On a recent coaching call, we were talking about the times and places in our lives where we could literally pay more attention, slow down, be more present.
One woman said that, often, when she’s walking her dogs, she’s doing it out of obligation and she just wants to get it done. She suggested she could slow down and enjoy the walk as much as they do.
After the call, Cody and I took our own walk around the neighborhood. I tried to keep him close, with the retractable leash locked at 6 feet so that he wouldn’t explore every neighbor’s lawn, but we are used to the full length of the lead, out in open spaces, so that we can walk at our own paces, stopping for each other as necessary, with minimal tugging.
This tight leash walking was new to both of us and there was too much tension on the leash for either of us to enjoy the walk. I wasn’t prepared for a training session, so I unlocked the line and we quickly settled into a comfortable pace.
My shoulders relaxed, my mind let go of trying to control the walk, and I starting thinking about the coaching call, which prompted me to consider how I could be present on this walk.
Cody was sniffing the oleanders along the alley next to the retired professor’s house, so I shifted my focus to just standing in my feet, and I immediately felt the need to stretch my arms up over my head. And then I saw the moon – shiny white, an almost full face, dangling in the sky over the downtown buildings. And I was so glad to be outside, in the not-too-cold evening air, walking with my wonderful dog.
Every time Cody stopped to sniff, I stopped too. I looked into the trees and the neighbors’ windows. I stood tall in Tadasana. I tried to find a star in the big city sky.
I smelled the sticky sap from the just cut branches of a very tall pine tree. I said hello to the man who was loading boxes into the back of his blue pickup truck.
I wasn’t thinking about my morning client, or the new floors for the house, or where we might go camping for Valentine’s Day. I was in my body, in my neighborhood, simply and fully enjoying an evening walk with my dog.
We didn’t walk far, just over to 10th Street, through the park and then home. But I was there for the whole thing. And I can’t wait to do it again.
We don’t have to sit on a meditation cushion in order to practice presence and letting go of our thoughts. Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, we can breathe ourselves into the present moment and simply notice what else there is.