Have you ever seen that meme where the dog and man are sitting side by side on a bench? The man is thinking of so many different things at once in his thought bubble, and the dog is just thinking of being there with the man.
Doesn’t that just say it all?
Animals naturally live in the moment, fully present to what is; and as such, they are wonderful at helping us do the same.
Our pets bring comfort, love, and peace.
They give us a reason to take a break from stress and “just be” with them. Don’t have a pet? Here’s the great news: it doesn’t have to be your pet! You can practice being mindfully present with other people’s animals, or even with animals at a zoo or nature center.
So, take your best friend’s dog for a walk. Walk dogs at a local animal shelter. Sit mindfully with your neighbor’s cat.
- Observe an animal mindfully. What do they look like? What colors or patterns do they have on their skin, coat, or feathers?
- Listen mindfully. Does this animal make vocalizations, or are they quiet? Can you hear any sounds as they move?
- If it’s safe/permitted to touch the animal, what do they feel like (i.e., soft, scaly, smooth, fluffy, silky)?
- Look into the animal’s eyes if you can. NOTE: Some animals consider staring a sign of aggression, so focus on looking at them kindly, smiling with your eyes, and blinking softly and slowly.
- If you’re doing an activity together (i.e., walking a dog, riding a horse), mindfully observe your physical bodies as you move. What can you notice about how you move together?
Whether it’s someone else’s pet, your own, or simply an opportunity to spend quality time around animals – from the birds in your back yard to a local farm or animal sanctuary – try practicing mindful awareness with them. Animals live in that space naturally, so it’s like they’ve already got the door propped open for us to join them!