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Mindfulness with our Beloved Pets and other Animals

March 26, 2020
Published in: COVID-19, Mental Health

Woman hugging her dog

The practice of mindfulness involves, "Paying attention to something, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally." Jon Kabat-Zinn. Paying close attention to a beloved pet mindfully can give us a much needed break from the anxious thoughts that we may be experiencing.

Many of us have a cat or a dog or another animal that we love tremendously. In times of stress they can provide great comfort. By tuning in to them in different ways we can maximize that experience. For example most dogs and some cats absolutely love to be brushed or combed and their sheer joy can make us happy. If we try to do this while watching TV we might miss the joy of observing how much our four-legged family member is getting from this sensory experience. To do it mindfully-just focusing on our animal and the joy he or she is experiencing- can really elevate our mood.

If you have ever had a massage and totally tuned into it then you know how amazing that can be. If you tried the same massage while thinking about scheduling your children's piano lessons around your schedule, then you most likely would not have had as good an experience.

Walking a dog is a more mindful experience than we might imagine. Dogs can get completely absorbed by the sights and smells and they are fun to watch. Even stopping to watch your fish eat can pull you in to the experience and distract you from all the worries of the day.

If you don't have an animal you can buy a bag of birdseed and put some outside in a place that you can observe from inside the house. Then you can watch the birds and the occasional squirrel come to feast. Though some people get bird feeders that prevent the squirrels from accessing the bird seed others allow the squirrels to eat. Either way it can be great fun to watch. If none of those options are available and you have the internet you can look up videos of animals and find favorites to return to over and over again. By focusing all of our attention on an animal or group of animals we can get a much needed break from the stresses of the day.

Be Mindful and be safe.