Every day I go for a walk with my dog in through the neighborhood. He is called Bob. A beautifully ugly black Shar-Pei. He looks like a hundred years old with a few too many meals on his body. Yet he is only 1 year old. He is a lovely happy and bouncy dog. Going from one end of the room to the other running around when someone enters the room. When I go walking with Bob I mostly listen to some music, a podcast, audiobook, or the birds high up in the tree. This is a moment in which both Bob and I can relax. Just walking and peeing. Well, Bob pees I just walk. Most of the time I have enough time to let him sniff at every plant. Which means standing still every two or three meters. It’s kinda annoying. Still completely normal for a dog.
Just ever so often I want to keep going. I have to be in a meeting or have something better to attend to. That is when something hit me. If this is the case and I am stressed or rushed, Bob starts to act kinda weird. He is stressed out. But how could he? He is a dog? It’s a stupid thought of course because dogs can feel way more than we do. Bob can instantly feel whether or not I am calm and therefore he can be calm. It’s that simple. If I feel stressed or angry, he feels stressed or angry. He starts to run around like crazy trying to shake off the tension, or walkway to fast so I have to hold him back. He is all over the place. Just as I am in my mind.
He feels what I feel. I started to become present because of this. Noticing my own tendency towards rushing. I tried to shift my energy, towards a calmer state of being. Caring less about being on time. Knowing that I have loads of time left. Just the thought wasn’t enough. If I only thought of being calm Bob was still all over the place. If I tried to calm him and in that effort started to get even more annoyed myself he became even more rushed. The only thing that helped was changing how I felt.
A loose leash
All I did was loosen the line. Both for Bob and for my mind. It was okay to be rushed. It was okay to not be on time all the time. Everything was just okay. So I noticed Bob starting to calm down. Not only Bob but myself as well. Way calmer actually. In a few weeks, I started to learn that I could change how I felt almost instantly. How? By focussing on the feeling instead of the thought.
The thought of being rushed can be changed quickly. It just doesn’t make any difference if you change the thought. All you do is push it further away. So I started to just focus on the feeling. If I feel rushed my throat starts to feel tense. So I thought of the physical sensation if I felt happy. It was a warm feeling in the chest. Just by doing this. Imagining what happiness felt like physically changed everything. I started to feel it in my own body. I took just one deep breath and the rushed feeling was gone. Bob started to slow down. I slowed down.
I was present at the moment again. Just going for a walk in the park. Letting the tension of the leash go loose. Bob started to stay with me. Whether I walked on or stood still. He followed me as if he wanted to be around me. He literally felt how I felt and that is why he, in the first case, choose to be all over the place and in the second case to follow me where ever I go.
Even the experience of walking with a dog can teach us something. Can make us more present. To say Today I Lived. To notice the experience that is life. How are you feeling right now? Try to shift the feeling into whatever you want. Start with imagining the feeling you want to feel. Then breathe in, and experience the beauty of living.