Dogs have one thing down: mindfulness (i.e. being). I’ve learned a few ‘being’ lessons from Bronson, our very loved four-legged family member, by observing how he moves through his days.
He doesn’t push and he doesn’t try too hard. He’s really got the balance between DOING and BEING right; the balance that we could all do with in our life to create more time, freedom ease, and flow.
The overarching theme Bronson brings to his life is that he totally lives in the moment. No grudges, no regrets, no wishing things were different. He just exists in the now.
Here are 7 things dogs teach us about ‘being’:
1. Love everyone.
Bronson loves everyone. He wants to be friends with every kid in the neighborhood, and loves to stop for a pat from whoever’s drawn to him on our daily walk. Anyone who shows up at our door is greeted with total love and acceptance (and a good deal of no-regard-for-personal-space sniffing).
The air-con guy came around once, and Bronson ran down the hall as if this were a long lost friend he hadn’t seen in years. The feeling was mutual, and they both embraced each other with an appreciation that was almost overwhelming. It was beautiful.
BRONSON’S TIP: When you meet someone, greet them with the love you would greet your best friend with.
2. Play whenever you get a chance.
Bronson is up for a game of chase whenever anyone offers. And if they don’t offer, he’ll suggest it.
He loves to run away with his toy in his mouth and then challenge someone to a bout of tug-o-war when he’s caught. It’s the only game he loves to play. It totally lights him up.
BRONSON’S TIP: The emotion of joy is the pathway to living a healthy, fulfilled life, and it can be found in simple pleasures. Make a point of doing something that lights you up every day.
3. Whenever you can, take a nap.
When Bronson’s waiting to be walked he takes a nap. When we go out or he’s put outside, he takes a nap.
If he wants to come inside and has to wait because I’m mopping the floors, he’ll cry to be let in. When nothing comes of it, he takes a nap.
BRONSON’S TIP: When life is feeling hard and you aren’t getting what you want, no amount of pushing is going to make it happen. Take a nap (i.e. surrender). It’s in those moments of surrender that solutions often show themselves.
4. Stretch. A lot.
As soon as I lift Bronson’s bowl off the kitchen counter to give his dinner to him he does a deep doggy-yoga bow. He even stretches the muscles of his mouth by opening it wide as he comes out of his bow.
Just before a walk, he stretches in readiness – and he does this a few times while he waits for us to get his leash out. As soon as my husband walks in the door (the signal that the daily walk is imminent), the stretching starts.
BRONSON’S TIP: Stretching helps us improve flexibility and is great for our joints. It keeps our muscles and tendons supple so that we can move well. Every time I notice Bronson stretch, I have a go at stretching my body in some way.
5. Shake off the negative.
Bronson doesn’t like it when my kids are annoying each other. He removes himself from the room as soon as the energy becomes too much for him. He gets himself back in alignment with a big shake.
BRONSON’S TIP: Shaking off the energy is a great way to shift into another state. When you want to put something behind you, or clear some negativity that you’ve just experienced, take yourself somewhere where you can shake your body in whatever way works for you.
6. Sigh deeply; often.
Breathing is a powerful way to keep ourselves energized and to help us connect with our body.
I notice that Bronson sighs deeply every now and then; especially when he’s been sitting idle for a while. It’s almost like a re-grouping, and then he moves on to his next position – either to lie down for a nap, or to scour the kitchen floor for any scraps the kids may have dropped.
BRONSON’S TIP: Take in a deep breath and feel your ribcage expand. Feel the breath push your belly out. Now breathe out in one big sigh. Repeat whenever you want.
7. Allow yourself to be loved.
Bronson has to be the most loved dog alive – well, that’s what my kids tell me. And he never says, ‘No’ to the love that is showered upon him. He gets wrapped in blankets at bedtime, he gets cuddled to death, he is lain on while the kids watch movies. And he has no problem rolling onto his back for an indulgent tummy rub that the kids are only too happy to give him!
BRONSON’S TIP: Allow yourself to be loved. Let others give you thanks for who you are. Accept the unconditional gifts and hugs and warmth that others feel inspired to shower you with. You deserve it.
If we lived by that theme as much as we could, and added these 7 ‘being’ lessons into our everyday lives, I believe we’d notice some big changes in the way things unfold for us… and in a very short space of time.