Practicing Mindfulness with Your Dog

In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to disconnect. According to Deloitte’s 2017 global mobile consumer survey, 89% of Americans check their phones within an hour of waking. I personally suspect the percentage of people who check their phones within the first five minutes of waking is still quite high (I know I’m guilty). After all, many of us use them as alarm clocks. It’s hard not to check for messages when you’re swiping to dismiss the alarm.
Within this space of constant connectivity, it’s easy to wake up and feel the need to be on, creating mental task lists while rushing through your morning routine. Trying to sort through that mental load is stressful, to say the least. In my experience, it can even feel suffocating.

Well, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t have to be that way. Mornings can be a great time to meditate in preparation for the day, to provide a sense of clarity to help you tackle the challenges ahead.

Be Present With Your Pooch

I’ve recently started to focus on being more present in the mornings, especially during my morning walk with Joy. After all, our dogs deserve our attention and presence, too. Instead of using the time around the block to catch up on emails or the news, I leave my phone at home altogether. For me, removing the temptation is key.

It turns out, this time alone with Joy makes me feel centered and clear-headed. It creates the perfectly peaceful environment I need to stay more focused throughout the day. Joy, of course, benefits from my present mind, too. It’s now one of her favorite times of day because she can sense that we’re in the moment together. It sounds simple, but something as little as making more eye contact with her feels like it has improved our communication. She craves it, and so do I.

Ok so this time I had my phone...

Before you cringe at the idea of one more thing to add to your to-do list, know that practicing mindfulness can be easy.

Try This Simple Mindfulness Exercise

Try taking a few deep breaths, then run down the list of your five senses, observing something around you for each sense. For example, I see the sun’s reflection in the puddle of water on the sidewalk, I smell the fresh-cut grass, I taste the minty residue of my toothpaste, I feel the coarseness of the leash in my fist, and I hear the birds chirping in the tree. You’ll be amazed at how energizing it feels to simply take in the world around you, especially when you start noticing the little things you ordinarily pass by without a thought.

Add a Positive Affirmation

Follow this exercise with positive affirmations about your day—even something as basic as “today will be a great day”—and you’ll probably feel lighter and a little less stressed by the time you get back home. Sometimes all it takes to believe something is by saying it out loud.

Get Out There & Try It

Tomorrow, do yourself a favor and try out my little mindfulness exercise on your morning walk. Your dog will bask in your undivided attention and, if nothing else, you’ll be reminded how beautiful your surroundings can be if only you take a minute to notice them. Of course, it helps that it’s so pleasant outside during this time of year, but I believe we’ll both benefit from this exercise even on the most frigid of days come this winter.

Talk about good eye contact. [Source]

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