How My Dog Teaches Me To Slow Down
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Once a week I head to Rikers Island in Queens, N.Y., to teach yoga to women in prison. After a commute that involves a bus ride from Manhattan to the front gate on Rikers, I check in with a guard Read
On a daily basis, I read or hear the message to slow down and be present in the moment. It’s everywhere. I meditate. I practice yoga. I preach mindful eating. I have moments of peace and pure presence, but it’s so easy to slip into the mindset of rushing and hurrying to the next event.
Some ideas don’t click until I see them with my own eyes.
I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with a small, black boxer – my boyfriend’s dog, Arya. She lives in the moment. Everything is new and thrilling to her. She gets excited for every single walk has no expectations for her performance.
Yesterday morning, we went for a walk to the beach and back. I had no plans the rest of the day, yet, I was rushing. I didn’t realize it until I noticed myself a pull on the leash. I looked over into the grass, and Arya's ears were perched, her full attention on a tiny little frog.
I won’t lie. Like most runners, I’m competitive. Every run feels good, but there are days where I want to run fast and long. Expectations just set me up for disappointment. Arya is so happy every time she has the chance to move her body.
If I’m feeling tired, I just look down at her smiling face with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. I know the best runs are the ones where I run free – no watch, no plan, no pressure. If I need a reminder, I just look down at her. If she wants to stop and chase frogs or insects, I’m game. When we stop, she gives me the opportunity to look around. I am always amazed at the beautiful mountain views I often take for granted.
I don’t need to run for an hour straight without stopping to be a runner. One of the reasons I run is to reach the “runner’s high,” which is a moving meditation for me. When I’m in that moment, all thoughts of time, distance, and goals are gone. It’s just me fully enjoying the beauty around me and the gift of running. Those are the times I appreciate my body, its strength and power, and its ability to connect with my mind.
When we got home after our walk, Arya slipped into her favorite stretches – the best downward facing dog and up-dog I’ve ever seen. The grin on her doggy face was pure pleasure that the smile spread to my face. It looked like her way of saying thank you.
She deserves all the thanks, though, for always reminding me to slow down in life, so you don’t miss anything, especially those little frogs hiding in the grass.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock.com
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