“My little dog—a heartbeat at my feet.”
My dog, Ellie, is my beautiful companion. I feel so blessed to have this little friend who loves me unconditionally and brings such joy to my life. Every morning for the past seven years, since Ellie came into my life, she curls up with me during my sitting time and meditates with me!
Many people have commented about how well behaved she is when they visit or when I take her to gatherings. Often she travels with me to places like the shopping mall and outdoor restaurants. She is always calm and even-tempered, and I really believe that her lifelong practice of meditation has made all the difference! Here she is waiting for me to join her for our morning meditation:
I believe dogs are very mindful animals, always living in the present moment with complete attention focused on whatever is right in front of them. Perhaps this is why they make such perfect meditation partners. They are usually so willing to just sit and be, and if they are anything like Ellie, they are perfectly content to be at their human’s side.
Meditating with Your Dog…
Each morning I look at Ellie and say, “Let’s go meditate, Ellie,” and she runs down the hall and jumps on her little cushion. I encourage you to try this with your precious companion as an active participant in your meditation practice. Actually tell your pet, “It’s time to meditate!” and offer a soft meditation cushion for him or her to lie on near your meditation space. Our animal’s love being with us, and this is a special sort of quiet time together. When I am finished, I look at Ellie and say, “Are you hungry? Time for breakfast,” and she runs to the kitchen.
Walking Your Dog with Focused Attention…
In addition to including your dog in your sitting meditation, you may want to try this interesting and fun Focused Attention activity: When I take Ellie for a walk, I focus all of my attention on her. Try it! I am suggesting that you really get down to your dog’s level (metaphorically, of course!) and try to see the world through his or her eyes. Notice:
Where is your dog’s attention going? What is his body language? How does it change during the walk? What might be crossing her mind as she encounters different animals, people, and objects? Does your dog look up at you from time to time? Is he checking in with you? Does she lead you one way or the other? Did something in the grass catch his attention? And so on.
When you try this, you begin to notice there is a lot going on in the world from a dog’s perspective! This is a really neat experiment, and the benefit for us is that we really get to experience being completely in the moment!
My thirty years of meditation practice has transformed me. What I know to be true is that when we meditate and become mindful during the moments of our day, it has a big impact on the people and animals in our lives. Ellie’s calm demeanor is just one example. This is “Being the change I wish to see in the World,” as Mahatma Gandhi said.