January is a time that many of us make resolutions about how we would like to make ourselves better over the year. I have done this many times before with resolutions to exercise more, meditate more, read more books, eat more healthily …the list goes on! I manage to keep some of them up but I have increasingly found with my mindfulness practice that mindfulness isn’t about trying to change ourselves or make ourselves “better”. It’s about acceptance of the here and now and not being judgmental, especially about ourself! So, instead of resolutions I like to reflect on a few intentions for the year. I find intentions much softer, i.e. it is something we would like to do but doesn’t feel as harsh and set you up to fail like a resolution. Intentions are kinder, we can have the intention to do something but if we don’t then the intention is still there to come back to anytime.
So, with that being said, my intention this year is to Be More Dog (go with me on this as I try and explain…!)
A recent life change has led to me becoming the owner of a lovely retired Guide Dog, Frankie. Always being a “cat person” I have had no experience of walking a dog so over the last few months I have had to learn this new skill! What has amazed me the most is how in the moment Frankie is with each walk. We tend to do exactly the same route every day and each time he is so excited like it is a brand new experience! He walks down the same path but there are always different things for him to smell and look at (and unfortunately for me, roll in!!). He doesn’t care where the end destination is, how long we walk for or who we bump in to. He is just mindful of each moment and thoroughly enjoys it! He even appears to demonstrate gratitude for going which is shown by his high pitch barking as we approach the start of the route.
It has made me have a total different approach to these walks. Now, instead of thinking about what I have to do that day, work on my to do list, what to eat for lunch etc, I try and be more like Frankie. I try and really look at my surroundings, notice sounds, engage with people and other dogs we pass. Basically, trying to Be More Dog! So this is my intention for the New Year. Notice what is taking me away from the here and now and keep coming back to my senses. My daily dog walks are a lovely way to practice mindfulness and when I do them in “dog mode” I usually feel a lot calmer and energised after. I also try and be grateful that I’m able to walk and do them which I know some people aren’t of course and if you are one of those people reading this I encourage you to still try and get out in nature as much as you can, maybe sitting and watching the world go by, feeling the breeze on your face, smelling the trees and flowers. I have recently learnt the lesson of not having a coffee before I go out however. This nearly led me to being a lot more dog than I want to!