Let your pup be your meditation guide.
You may think there is a typo in this title—doesn’t she mean “heal,” not “heel”? Of course, the practice of meditation has been proven to be healing and life-changing. Can you imagine the ability to silence the constant buzzing of to-do lists and worries that surge through your mind every minute?
Patanjali, an ancient yoga philosopher, suggests that through yoga and meditation we can “still the fluctuations of the mind.”
Sounds easy, right? Sometimes stilling these fluctuations, as I’ve discovered, is about as easy as getting a puppy to stop wagging his tail.
I suppose I should explain the doggy jargon. My mom just adopted a Jack Russell-Poodle into the family: Mac. Now Mac is everything you would expect out of a pup: curious, rambunctious, impulsive, and of course, cute as a button.
I’ve come to liken the process of meditation to walking a dog. Okay, hear me out: new and seasoned meditators alike have experienced the feeling of having their mind race a mile a minute when all they want to do is “Zen out.” I had a similar feeling when walking Mac for the first time.
There I was, strolling along a mountain trail, enjoying the beautiful views of Georgian Bay and trying to get into “the zone.” However, Mac had other plans. With every step I took forward, Mac took 30 in different directions. His little body jolted with enthusiasm at every little flower, rock and bug.
His clumsy puppy paws got tangled in his leash, he lost his sense of direction and he got into a little puppy scrap with a neighborhood dog (no one was hurt, don’t worry). At the end of the walk, the little guy was exhausted and I was no closer to fulfilling my desire for a tranquil walk.
When I meditate, I often have a Mac mind. As much as I try to still my thoughts, they insist upon running wild.
Here are a few things I’ve learned about meditation from Mac:
1. Be patient. Mac is just a puppy. It takes a long time to train a dog so that he is disciplined and calm. The same goes for your mind. Although corpse pose or seated pose may look like an easy pose from the outside, what happens within us is no walk in the park.
2. Don’t punish, encourage. In the doggy world, a little encouragement goes a long way; we’ve all seen old dogs do new tricks for a treat. When you catch your mind starting to wander to the shopping list, the mortgage or who will win Canadian Idol, gently bring yourself back to your breath. Resist the urge to criticize yourself and recognize that you are treating yourself to something transformative for your body and soul.
3. Love your mind. Even though Mac may chew my favorite new heels to shreds or steal that last cookie from the coffee table, I can’t help but forgive him and appreciate his tiny little lust for life. Love your mind like you would a puppy—even though your mind can be a rascal, love and appreciate it for what it is: your center of curiosity and learning.
4. Know that you are on the right path. As Mac gets older, he will begin to trust who leads him. He will begin to follow on the right path and see the bigger picture as he travels. When you meditate, trust that you are on the right path, that you are being cared for by a greater power and that you are an integral part of the bigger picture.
Katie Callaghan is a studio teacher at Balanced Life Yoga, a Can-Fit-Pro certified Personal Trainer, and high school English teacher. She is passionate about introducing yoga into people’s lives: Katie has created a Yoga Club for Teens at her high school and she is thrilled to be teaching the three part beginner series and Power Hour classes at BLY. Check out her bio at http://www.balancedlifeyoga.ca/katie-percy/
Editor: Sarah Winner
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