Pause with Paws - Activity 1 : Walk like A dog
Updated: May 6, 2020
If you have an active imagination and thought about being on all fours , marking away in your neighborhood , chasing squirrels /lizards /cats , I am glad I could give you that entertainment . Obviously , that is not what I meant by " Walk like a dog " :-)
One of the primary lessons early on in “A New Earth “ is about the benefit of observing nature without labeling. Example , When you look at flower without labeling it as one and observe it as though you are encountering it for the first time ,you sense there is more to it than its physical form. When you observe the stillness in it , it takes you to the place of stillness in your Being . The same way you feel when you observe your pet when they are fast asleep . It always brings you a sense of peace/ happiness that cant be explained . Going by the amount of sleeping pictures of the pets we have on our phones , we can't even hide how much we love observing their peaceful, cute faces as they are sleeping and our desire to be in that state of being.
What if we extend this state to another activity that involves our pet ? Dog walk is a brilliant opportunity to practice it . A dog gets super excited every single time for the walk ,even if we take the same route over and over. They react as though they are walking through it for the very first time . They would still stop to sniff the same bushes and their decision to mark on top of it varies day after day . What if we play along during the walks and interact with nature the way our pets do ? Not talking about marking and chasing obviously :-) .What if we tried focusing on the sounds around - birds chirping or even sound of vehicles , without labeling them . We are not labeling that sound as sound from the vehicle or from a specific species of birds , but just observing it. Just observing the plants , flowers , trees without any preconceived notion about what they are. It takes you to a place of stillness within . You have nothing to analyse or prove and so just going with the flow and walking as though you are holidaying in a different city . Just like how a dog does . Still with me?
The whole idea of attempting this practice is to set yourself up for success and therefore practice when the situation is close to perfect for exploring this activity
how frequently should I practice this ?
You can either choose to this daily or the days when you have a milder schedule depending on how you feel . Having said that , they say it takes 21 days of commitment to change a habit . So see if you can attempt that . Its perfectly fine if you aren't ready for it just yet . Just practice it whenever you can.
What if I cant stay in this state for the whole walk ?
You could do it for a few minutes during the walk and keep increasing the duration over a period of time. I do understand that not everyone has a flexible time schedule and sometimes you want to hurry through the walks. Try slowing down at the place where usually your pet is intrigued and stops for a sniff . Use that moment to practice this stillness.This way , what used to seem like a waste of time is now the time that your Being Buddy and you will relish the most during walks
I am a cat person and would love a similar experience
When they are indoors , you can hangout at their catio or look out of the window alongside your cat and just observe the world without labels . If you spot them outside , say hello to them and observe the surroundings there without labeling them and the enjoy the stillness .Unless of course if they say “ Mom / Dad , don’t embarrass me in front of my friends “. You need to leave right away then . Just kidding !
Tip for going back to practicing the state of Being , if you get distracted
If you feel your mind is now thinking about a past or a future event , which could be as mundane as i need to take the next right turn , bring your attention back to your anchor.
My anchor is my dog ,I follow his panting sound or the sound of the tags .Eckhart suggests a couple of anchors. One of them is " Am I still breathing ?". Since you never stop breathing when alive , this question then brings your awareness to your breathing and you can stay focused on it for a while . Just observe how you breathe in and out and the sensation that it creates in your nostrils / chest /stomach . You can then stick with that or try observing the surroundings again without labeling them whenever you feel comfortable .
Dog walks have never been a chore for me. I have always used it at a time to connect with my dogs. But I have also enjoyed the company of other humans during walks or checked phones ( until the day Brad voiced his opinion on it .I still do but it’s rare ). Since the time I have started practicing this , even the bushes and hedges look so different to me each time and walks have been so meditative and energizing .The road I take everyday , multiple times a day feels like the road i have never taken . Walking like a dog is fun !