WALKING YOUR DOG AS A SPIRITUAL PRACTICE
Let’s say you just finished a truly empowering spiritual self-help book. The words you read resonated deep within you, giving you countless “aha” moments about how to be more peaceful, happy, grateful, self-loving and committed to creating your own healthy, abundant, joyful, love-filled reality. Then, of course, you actually have to put the book down and go out into the world and actuate all the inspiration you absorbed.
As it turns out, the act of walking your dog – can be a reinforcing spiritual practice in and of itself and, with this approach, you will also create a deeper and more profound bond with your dog than you ever expected. The following tips come out of a collaboration between my dog, Mr. T (above) and me:
1. MAKE ONE OF YOUR WALKS “QUALITY TIME” aka Your Spiritual Walk
This is probably the most key point of all; we realize that time is precious and not every dog walk will be worthy of a thumbs-up from the Dalai Lama. So pick just one of your daily walks to be “the conscious walk” for starters. As Mr. T says:
“It’s really important that we take our time- I know- this is something you humans never seem to have enough of- but you must put these moments on a calendar like a doctor’s appointment- you wouldn’t miss that, would you? Well, the healing you get from taking your time may be even more important but no one talks about it because it is free to everyone and not advertised on TV.”
Your dog knows the difference between a perfunctory “get the job done” walk and time designated for the two of you to be together. I started going to bed and waking up 15-30 minutes earlier so I could stop rushing and avoid the blistering Florida sun; you may prefer evening for your moving meditation walk instead.
2. TUNE YOUR INTENTION TO LOVE
As Mr T reminds me: “People have to stop and love more. Love IS the purpose; instead of running around and worrying about what to do next, ask ‘Where will love take me today? Where can I express it most, to who or what?”
So, before you leave the house, simply place your hand on your heart and remember YOU ARE LOVE. Tap into the love you feel for your dog and see it emanate from you as walk. You’ve now raised your vibration and you, your dog, and everything you pass by will benefit. Keep repeating this along your walk. Send love to the Earth; your love will help Nature flourish more than you know.
3. WALK IN “THE NOW”
Animals are masters of the present moment. Your walk together is the perfect time to practice the art of BEING HERE NOW, as Mr. T explains:
“If a person gives 100% total attention to what they are doing at the moment, this eradicates the worrisome little noises (thoughts) that hurt the heart. Don’t multi-task! When you walk, don’t talk on your phone or worry about what just happened or what may happen an hour from now. Instead, focus your awareness on your surroundings. We smile when we are outside and notice all the beauty in the smallest details. We use our senses to their fullest extent.”
So… smile at your neighbors, especially if they are trees. Listen to the wind with appreciation. Notice what grabs your dog’s attention, how his body moves. When you are in the present, you and your dog are on the same playing field, focused on only the things that involve you both. When you’re in your head worried about anything else, you’ve separated your dog out of your reality. In short, you’ve mentally and energetically left the room and he’s been left behind.
If your mind insists on creating a need for distraction, hum the lyrics to one of the following old songs in your head: “Put A Little Love in Your Heart”, “Love is The Answer” or “All You Need is Love”.
4. PRACTICE THE ART OF ACCEPTANCE
When it rains he prances through the drops, smiling. When it’s blisteringly hot, he seems not to notice. Even when the traffic or the gardeners manufacture noise so deafening that it causes him to cringe, the smile never leaves Mr. T’s face. In short, he is always on the lookout for what wags his tail: the next gecko he will never catch, the trail of scents he can decode or the neighbor’s dog he can go greet for the third time today.
Since there is nothing we can do about certain disruptions in life, acceptance is the healthiest strategy. It helps to practice this in sound bytes like on a 30-minute walk.
As Mr. T says: “don’t fight the temperature, blend into it”. No one expects us to fling rose petals and do the happy dance when we’re dripping with perspiration, our fingers are frostbitten or we just had 3 root canals. But focusing, instead, on a beautiful sky above you, or your breath and the magnificent lungs that pump it, is good for the Soul. Your blood pressure will also thank you for it.
5. CREATE PEACEFUL COLLABORATION
According to Gary Zukav in “Soul Stories” authentic power comes from choosing “harmony, cooperation, sharing and reverence for Life” on a moment by moment basis - and especially when we are angry, jealous, sad and frightened. There is no more perfect practice field for working these concepts than a walk with your dog. If your dog wants to go left and you prefer going right, compromise: let him choose one day and you make the call the next. This creates a healthy level of equality between the two of you that most people don’t consider. Your dog will definitely notice and appreciate your intention.
Finally, as far as “reverence for Life” is concerned, it’s good to remember that every creature has a reason for being…so try not to go out of your way to step on bugs. They didn’t plan to get in the way of your shoe.
Sandra Mendelson, HC, CPT, CLT is an author, speaker, animal communicator and channel. She is currently at work on a book about animal consciousness. As a Certified Equine Photopuncture Therapist, LED Light Therapist and Holistic Health and Nutrition Coach, she helps humans create deeper bonds with their animal partners, by identifying health imbalances and accelerating recovery through the use of animal communication,
acupuncture with light, red and infrared light therapy, anti-inflammatory nutrition and detoxification.