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Sunday
Apr192009

Present Moment Awareness: Lessons from Dogs on Being Here Now

 

I was talking with an old friend yesterday who expressed concern about how many of us have lost sight of ourselves due to being stressed and externally focused. In essence we have lost the art of present moment awareness.

When we're too concerned about the world outside of us we become out of touch with our inner guidance, we don't hear our body's intelligence tell us to slow down, drink some water, take a break etc. If this becomes our way of life we become imbalanced and at some point our health begins to suffer.

 

The World Outside Your Window

It's a bit like standing in a room in your house looking through a window to the world outside. You stand for days noticing and worrying about everything going on out there while the dust and cobwebs in your room build up around you. The air becomes stale, the house gets cluttered and still you watch and worry about the world outside never seeing what is happening inside.

 

Lessons from Dogs

My friend also commented on how she's noticed that dogs are always in the now. They don't drag their history with them into the present moment and they don't project their worries into the future. They're just here. Take them for a walk and they're happy doing what dogs do, sniffing, being with you, getting some exercise, tail wagging and never missing the chance to sniff and explore.

There's a lot we can learn from this. If we are not present moment by moment in our lives then we are not actually living our lives, we are merely drifting on autopilot and we are missing everything. We miss the chance to connect deeply with those around us, and the vital opportunity to develop the unique potential that comes with a human birth - to explore and grow our spiritual self.

The only thing we have that we can use to shape our future is this moment now, but if we are spending it worrying over something that may never happen, or arguing with someone in our head who served us an injustice five years ago the moment is lost.



The only thing we have that we can use to shape our future is this moment now, but if we are spending it worrying over something that may never happen, or arguing with someone in our head who served us an injustice five years ago the moment is lost. We are having to learn in a distraction filled world to be present in the moment. To make time to smell the roses instead of walking right past them worrying about our tax returns. We need to rediscover how to slow down, how to sit and breathe and watch the clouds, the birds, the stars.

 

Finding Balance and the Urgency of Reconnection

While a bias towards external focus brings self neglect, a bias towards internal focus can bring selfishness and a blindness to the bigger picture of life and the experiences of others. Neither are healthy and neither help us grow ourselves; to be healthy human beings who can make good choices and honour our potential for growth we have to find balance. Balance of external and internal and balance of mind and body.

Fortunately for us we have been given tools to do this perfectly. Perhaps the easiest and most effective is meditation. It doesn't have to take hours or require a steep learning curve, just the promise to yourself to check in with the bridge between your inner and outer worlds for a few minutes a day.

You can do it by setting a timer for ten minutes and simply sitting and watching your breath, or you can get some help by using a guided meditation that helps you calm your mind and talks you through an exercise in the art of restful awareness.

Either way, a few minutes a day is enough for you to start restoring balance. By putting some quiet time high on your list of priorities you can tap into your own healing potential and begin to enjoy present moment awareness with all its many rewards.

 

It's Not the Time that Matters

It's important to know that it isn't the amount of time that you spend in meditation that matters so much as the development of your understanding during that time. Even two minutes spent sitting still and breathing slowly can help you develop that understanding. You are developing self awareness, a reconnection with your body's intelligence and that voice inside you that always seeks to help you make good choices but so often gets shouted down by stress. Balance means making little spots of time throughout your day to hear yourself think and grow your life, it all begins with present moment awareness.

 

Photo by ginnerobot 

 

Present Moment Awareness Resources

 

 

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Reader Comments (7)

I wrote about something very similar on my own site today, except, instead of dogs I was talking about children. However, I have a dog and I think the concept is pretty much the same. My dog is always living in the present moment. She's not thinking about what she just did or what she's going to do later. She's thinking about RIGHT NOW. It's awesome and I think we could all learn a lot from that!

http://positivelypresent.typepad.com


Apr 19, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPositively Present

Positively Present

Thanks for sharing your thoughts and reminding me how well children do this too, I'm going to go and read your post now...

Apr 19, 2009 | Registered CommenterAnanga

I just came across this post again (from The Carnival of Healing) and I wanted to let you know that I loved re-reading it. :)

Positively Present

May 2, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterPositively Present

The other thing I've learned about dogs is not only do they live in the moment, they have no problem asking for what they want and making sure their needs get met. It never fails to amaze me how easy it is for animals to honor themselves and make sure they have what they need. I'm reading a seriously cool book right now, Honor Yourself: The Inner Art of Giving and Receiving and one of the first questions the author asks is "What do you need to be happy right now?" It's a great exercise for making sure you're focused in the moment.

May 5, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRuth

This was a great read. Thanks for posting.

http://self-improvement-saga.com

Sep 16, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterNea

I came across your blog via the "Write to Done" invitation to share your best writing from 2009. I'm glad I did. You chose well when you decided to share this particular post. I couldn't agree with you more.

Roia
http://mindfulmusictherapist.blogspot.com

Dec 31, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterRoia

Loved it! Great read!

Jan 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDezarae Starnes

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