A mindful dog walk

Last night we had one of our online meet ups over at The Forge, my creative business mentoring group.  It’s such a lovely group, we all go through lots of the same issues and it’s great to have that support.  Anyway, one of the themes that came up last night was that of OVERWHELM!  If you’re self employed in any capacity, but especially in a creative one, I’m sure you’ll know what I’m talking about.  It’s that feeling that you have a never-ending do list; every time you cross one thing off two more get added; you end up losing yourself in your work and not looking after yourself properly, and you have that constant  gnawing anxiety that you’re never getting quite enough done ……

So, we chatted about this, and agreed that we really needed to combat this by be nicer to ourselves – self care being the priority!  This is something I keep coming back to; in fact when I did my 2014 planner, I made my word for the year “self care” (yes I know, that’s two words, but what the hell).  I started off pretty well with daily yoga and meditation, but as ever, life got in the way and after a hectic month I realised that overwhelm had struck: I hadn’t been near my yoga mat for 3 weeks, was too busy to meditate, wasn’t getting out for runs or walks, and was eating all sorts of rubbish rather than take the time to cook healthy meals.

Now I’m not good at admitting to my failures, so it was really good for me to be able to talk about this in a lovely supportive group last night.  It’s only a failure if you don’t get back up and keep trying, amirite?  So it’s time to make self-care my top priority again.

With this in mind I dragged myself out this morning for a short run/jog, and then took the pooches for a stroll. (You’d think I could combine the two, but my poor wee doggies are too old now for anything more than a leisurely stroll).  At the back of my mind was that niggling anxiety again, that little voice telling me “hurry up, you need to get back and get stuff done, make it a quick walk, hurry hurry hurry”.  I chose NOT to listen to this voice.  And I chose NOT to spend my dog walk running through my do lists in my head and thinking about work and planning all the things I’d do when I got home.  I wanted to savour being outside, in nature, and I wanted to take time out to be chilled, to stroll, pootle, amble, meander, and generally GO SLOW.  After all when you’re walking down a path this beautiful, you really shouldn’t rush.

sunny path

I read an article somewhere – I forget where – about mindfulness, which suggested that to be more fully present in a moment, you should run through each of your five senses and really *notice* what you are sensing.  So this is what I did on my walk.  I focussed on what I could see: trees, path, sky, my dogs.  Then I stopped walking, closed my eyes, and focussed on what I could hear: birds singing, the wind blowing through the trees, the jangle of my dogs tags on their collars.  Then I thought about what I could smell: fresh air and dew.  And finally, what I could feel: the dogs leads in my hands, the wind on my face, the stones on the path under my feet.

As we turned around to come back I wanted to see if I could go further with being mindful, so went back to noticing what I could see.  I decided to look for colours.  As I was walking through a forest I was pretty sure that all I’d seen on the way out was green and brown.  But its amazing what you notice when you really start looking!   On the way back I saw every colour of the rainbow.   I noticed all the hundreds of different shades of green, from the dark green of heather leaves to the bright, almost luminous, green of new shoots on the pine trees.  I noticed bright yellow buttercups and the blue of the last bluebells.  I saw the purple of heather flowers just starting to come through, and the pink of rhododendrons.  I noticed that the bark of the trees was not just brown but all sorts of shades of reds, russets, beige, orange and many more.  I noticed dew drops on a blade of grass, glistening and sparking.

Plus the dogs enjoyed their walk much more as they got to stop and sniff interesting things whenever they wanted.  Look how happy my Eddie looks ❤

eddie

How much beauty do we walk past every day and not even notice?  The thing is, it didn’t even really take much time out of my day: I had to walk the dogs anyway, and doing it at this leisurely pace probably added about 10 minutes on to the time it took.  An extra 10 minutes out of my day; well worth it for the benefits I got of returning home feeling calm, grounded, uplifted and refreshed.   So, I highly recommend trying this practice! It definitely helps you to ground yourself in the moment and to be mindful of what you’re doing.  Try it, and tell me in the comments how you get on, or blog about it and send me the link!

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5 thoughts on “A mindful dog walk

  1. I have literally just got back from a pootle with my dogs…….and like you I have taken more time to take in my surroundings……why are these sort of practices so easy to let go of rather than to hang on to when life gets busy?

  2. Loved your post, thank you for directing me to it 🙂 Very much feel I have lost my way this past month so its done me good crossing paths with your lovely self

  3. I will confess.
    I would not describe myself as a dog person. If I’m honest I tend to be scared of the big ones and a bit germ phobic of the little licky type.
    This could probably be traced back to a childhood incident or somesuch but I adore cats and have decided to plunge my flag in the cat litter tray. However, your post has made me genuinely question whether that’s true.. Or it’s a story I tell myself as shorthand. So reading this, I have decided to borrow a dog for the weekend and check the evidence. I will report back. Lovely writing, thank you xxxx

    • Tanya, dogs are the world’s best mindfulness gurus. Everything they do, they fully immerse themselves in and enjoy the moment. Honestly my doggies taught me so much and made me a better person 🙂 xxx

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