How to transform every dog walk into a meditation

After practicing meditation daily for many years, I made a startling discovery: Meditation doesn’t require one to light a candle and sit pretzel-like on a cushion with eyes closed and your hands in a formal position. Informal forms of meditation—taking a walk or riding a horse, for example—can be just as powerful (if not more so). That’s because meditation aims to bring all of our energy here to this present moment, and open our hearts to the peaceful power that exists in the now—something animals instinctively know how to do. It matters not how we do this, but rather that we do it.

Once we realize this, fitting healing meditations into your busy days becomes that much easier. Especially for those of us with dogs. Imagine if every dog walk could transform into a walking meditation. It truly can! Here are six easy tips you can try today:

1. Prepare your pooch. Ideally, and to achieve a better meditation space, you’ll want to eliminate any agitation your dog might have before setting out. Has your dog been cooped up inside all day? Take 10 minutes to throw the ball with him to release some of that overabundance of energy. Is he thirsty? Give him a long drink now, so he won’t need one in 15 minutes. You know your dog best: Think about what you can do to get your dog into a calmer state of mind.

2Follow the dog’s lead. Letting someone else “drive” can be liberating (even if that “someone” is a dog!), and this will work as long as your furry friend isn’t distractedly pulling the leash every which way. But feel free to take a different path this time. Let go of feeling like you have to watch the clock.

3. Embrace silence. Aim for a peaceful stroll, so push away the desire to speak to your dog or converse with others you encounter on the walk. Soak up the silence instead.

4. Stay present. Tune into your five senses and the beauty around you, be patient with your dog’s olfactory musings, relax and breathe. Push away any thoughts that take you out of the Zen state. Focus on your experience of walking: how your body feels, the birdsongs around you, the rustling of the wind in the leaves, the jingle of the collar, the sound of each footfall upon the ground. If your mind wanders too far, gently pull your thoughts back to this moment.

5. Put away distractions. The goal is to connect with your dog in this moment. Imagine you are connected by your hearts, not just with the leash. Stay in tune to his experience and emotions, so ditch your cell phone, iPod and so on. So many dog walkers lack true connection with their pooches; both minds are going opposite directions. But when you eliminate unnecessary distractions, you can close the gap and focus on moving in the same direction.

6. Make walking meditations a daily routine. This may seem difficult at first, but the rewards will soon have you both looking forward to this precious time.

Here’s a meditation you can try today:

Reiki practice: “Remembering Gratitude”
Walking meditation with your dog: Take 10 minutes to walk outside in nature. As you walk, focus on the mantra “thank you.” Allow your mind to go where it will: to animals, people and situations in your life for which you hold gratitude. Notice how your mind and heart shift in as few as 10 minutes with this positive focus.

Have you ever tried meditating while walking your dog? Share your experiences in the comments below.

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Kathleen Prasad

Kathleen Prasad is an entrepreneur, author, educator, spiritual seeker and animal advocate living in beautiful Marin County, California, with her husband, daughter, dog and two horses. She loves being with animals, listening to hip-hop, eating out at vegan restaurants, riding dressage, hiking in the redwoods and traveling the world to meet animal people.
You can learn more about Kathleen here.

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Comments (16)

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    Ross Galan

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    I haven’t got a dog, but I Do practise MINDful & HEARTful© Walking/Running to catch the bus for instane? Meditation (With MINDfulness and HEARTfulness©.) Not only do I practise Mindful-Heartful© Walking Meditation but also in every single activity I do, from writing E-mails, to cooking, eating, talking with and to someone else to drinking water, Mindful and Heartful© breathing, to literally everything I do. Mindful and Heartful© Meditation is a must for me, like breathing. I recommend and suggest this practice to anyone else and give it a try for the simple beneficial reasons that this moment to moment practice does to our body, mind, spirit, emotions and feelings, souls.
    – – – – – –
    Ross Galán, Ph. D
    NLP Spiritual Life Coach

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      Kathleen Prasad

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      That is wonderful Ross! Thank you for sharing your practice. I also see mindfulness practice as something to do in every moment, as what could be better than being truly present in our lives! 🙂 Blessings!

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    ellie

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    I’m a dog walker and I get to do this everyday..some of my most powerful messages come in while i’m walking…and nature is all around me so what could be better!!!

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      Kathleen Prasad

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      That is great to hear – how lucky you are to be able to spend your days in nature with your canine friends 🙂

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    Carolyn

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    Just sent this to a friend who isn’t an animal person but is having difficulty trying to meditate “like a pretzel” What a wonderful phrase! I’m sure she’ll find her focus with your approach.

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      Kathleen Prasad

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      Wonderful, thanks for sharing this with her, Carolyn. Animals are wonderful teachers!

      Reply

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    Marie

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    This is exactly what we do — and the way I focus on the present is by seeking beauty in a tree, flower, etc. Especially if I’m having a stressful day, I thank the fact that I can walk, see, hear and smell everything on the walk. After losing two canine children recently, I also thank my remaining dog for being healthy today, for life is an accumulation of today/now.

    So, thank you for posting this. It gave me a big smile on my face.

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      Kathleen Prasad

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      Thanks for sharing Marie. That is beautiful! And so happy your dog helps you stay in that space of gratitude in the NOW 🙂

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      Mary

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      Your message really resonated with me. This past Saturday we had to let go of our dog and send his spirit to the Rainbow Bridge. I do have one other dog and it was a great reminder to thank my current dog for being healthy and here today.

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        Kathleen Prasad

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        Love and light to your dog’s journey into spirit Mary – and may Reiki’s peace embrace your heart.

        Reply

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    kathi richards

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    I am blessed to be able to walk my dogs every day off leash. Some days I recite the Reiki precepts, some days a mantra, some days in silence. We do this near the end of the day and it is a wonderful way to stay connected with them and with all that is around me. Blessings

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      Kathleen Prasad

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      Great ideas, Kathi, thanks for sharing 🙂 I know you also live in such a beautiful place – it supports the practice as well 🙂 Blessings!

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    Loriann

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    Yes! So glad you wrote this article – and thank you for affirming what I already experienced! I took a walk with my dog shortly after sharing reiki with him and since we were both relaxed from the reiki session, the calmness and mindfulness carried over into the walk. I didn’t realize it, though, until well into the walk that it was a kind of meditative practice. Beautiful experience. 🙂

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      Kathleen Prasad

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      Hi Loriann, Thanks for sharing your experience 🙂 The more we practice meditation, the more the “ripple effect” will carry over into our lives…and our dogs can help us stay in that space even longer! Blessings 🙂

      Reply

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    Christine Adamonis

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    I just found your site love it. I too am blessed to live in the beautiful desert Bella and I walk early every morning sometimes we see her doggy friends other times we don’t see any one just horses, bunnies, birds and coyotes which I think is a gift. I give thanks for everythingin my life, the most important I feel is thanks for a happy healthy body mind and spirit and for the dogs. Bella was rescued she loves life every day is an adventure. A friend and I have talked about doing Reiki for shelter dogs.

    In love and light.
    Christine

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      Kathleen Prasad

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      Thank you Christine 🙂 Bella is a very lucky dog! I hope you can reach out to your local shelter and share Reiki there – it is so beneficial for them!! Blessings!

      Reply

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