Pets can be great companions for easing our daily stress. They can also be purrfect meditation partners too, writes Jill Lawson
Most of us adopt a dog or a cat because pets give us joy and offer companionship and emotional support. These qualities are beneficial in stressful times.
Whether we are greeted with excitement and a hurricane of licks on our face when we come home from a long day or have a warm, furry body purring comfortably on our lap while we work from home, our animals help us let go of that which disrupts our peace of mind.
Having a pet not only fosters our health and wellness by calming us down, keeping us active, and offering company, our pets can also help us with our meditation practice.
If your mind is like an excitable terrier behind a squirrel, this meditation is for you. If you have a terrier that cannot sit quietly, you can still let it help you meditate; however, it is best to find a time when your pet is as calm as you wish your mind to be.
Do it now
- Come to a comfortable position with your dog or your cat (if you have a bird, a reptile, or any other ‘pet’, this meditation will still work).
- Take several deep breaths and give your pet a few pats on the back.
- Now, take a moment to let your gaze follow the outline of your pet. For example, look at your pet’s face, then trace your pet’s legs, back, feet, and tail with your eyes. Become aware of the subtle aspects of your pet. Do you see a few grey hairs you hadn't noticed before? Maybe you have become acutely conscious of the way your dog’s ribcage moves with each breath. Try to detect at least five nuances that you didn't see before.
- Now, narrow your focus even more. Can you see how the light reflects off your puppy’s wet nose? Do you see varying shades of pink on the pads of your cat’s feet? Continue to deepen your awareness of your pet as you concentrate on the many subtleties you once overlooked.
- If you have come this far in the meditation, pat yourself on the back.
The most challenging part of any meditation is getting beyond the initial struggle to quiet the mind long enough to reap the benefits. It's easy to quit because our minds, like the terrier, struggle to be still. Having a place to channel your attention is vital in getting beyond that initial challenge, and your pet offers the perfect opportunity to do so.
Jill Lawson is a writer and yoga teacher enjoying life on the island of Maui in Hawaii (jilllawson.net)