INTERSPECIES INTERSPIRITUAL DAILY DOG-WALKING MEDITATION
Walking meditation is a mindful movement practice in which you consciously concentrate on walking so that you know you are walking AND notice the sense perceptions around you with each step. For example, if you’re walking outside, you see where you are walking, you hear the various sounds of nature while you are walking, you feel the breeze and the temperature of your environment and smell the aromas of Mother Earth. You can also focus your thoughts by using a word, phrase or mantra (e.g., repeating your canine companions name).
As one Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, explains, “Walking meditation is a wonderful practice. The primary purpose of walking meditation is to completely enjoy the experience of walking. We walk all the time but our steps are often burdened with our anxieties and sorrows. When we walk in mindfulness, each step can create a fresh breeze of peace, joy and harmony. Our destination is the here and now.”
Thich Nhat Hanh adds that you can use a small bell to begin and end your walk and use words or phrases during the walk to guide your focused, mindful steps. Specifically, he says, “When the bell sounds for walking, our breath is coordinated with our steps – we take an in-breath and make one step with the left foot. On the out-breath we take another step with the right foot. Then we begin the cycle again. We can also hold words in our heart. For example, with one step we can say, ‘I have arrived’ and with the next, ‘I am home.’ You may continue with other meaning phrases such as, ‘Yes’ and ‘thank you.’ Our body flows in a continuous movement in harmony with our breathing.”
See The Long Road Turns to Joy – A Guide to Walking Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh, (c) 1996
A walking meditation practice can be very beautiful and comforting when done alone or with other humans. It can also be very enjoyable with “other-than-human” companions but may not be as orderly or synchronized. 😊
For example, when I walk with my companion canine, Zorro, a 7-pound Chihuahua, we begin with me carrying him for the first half of our 300-foot walk. Fortunately, he is easy to carry but he still needs his exercise to maintain his muscle tone AND, equally important, to do his daily duty/doody (i.e., defecate and urinate).
When I put him down on the ground next to me, he will often sniff, slowly begin walking until he finds the “right place” to do his duty/doody and then, upon completion, sprint the remaining 250 feet to the front door of our house where he knows his water dish and reward treats are located.
Anyone can do this dog-walking meditation knowing that their process and results will vary depending on their canine companion’s needs and desires.
May you and your canine companion enjoy your interspecies, interspiritual, walking meditation experience.