Thursday, June 3, 2010

Mindfulness Happens

Yesterday I took my new puppy for a hike at a park in an adjoining town. This park is about 250 acres of dedicated public open space that offers a small beach on a lake, hiking trails and a little fenced in doggie park that borders the lake on one side.

We start out by hiking about two miles of trails up and down hills, around the lake and through the woods and we always end up (by her choice) in the dog park where she is allowed off her leash. Freedom to roam and chase blowing leaves untethered. In that little span of park she experiences the only freedom that a six-month old puppy gets in the course of a day… and she makes the most of it.

I sit on a bench in the shade. Funny thing about a hot, still day in New England, no matter how hot or humid or still the air the breeze still blows off the lake. There can be absolutely no movement of air in the other 249 acres of space but at that lake the breeze is always blowing.

Here is what I did: I felt the breeze and heard the leaves rustle. I watched the ripples in the water. I listened to the voices of the swimmers across the lake at the beach. I listened to the footsteps and chatter of people walking by on the trails. I watched the dog sit in wait for just the right moment to pounce on the next blowing leaf that had the misfortune of crossing her path. I heard birds, I heard dogs, I saw fish jumping out of the water and some sort of water animal (otter?) cutting a path through the lake. I chatted with people who walked by – my dog is a real conversation piece. I don’t mean to brag but she’s a real looker.

Here is what I did not do: Think about anything that happened the day before or even that morning. Think about anything that I had to do the next day or even that evening. I didn’t think about the mortgage or what I needed to stop by the grocery store to buy. I didn’t think about work or any other responsibility that falls to me during the normal course of any given day.

And I only realized later that for that ninety minutes that I spent in that park this was my experience. Mindfulness… being aware of where you are and what is going on in the moment. If you’re fortunate enough to get as much pleasure in the experience as I did yesterday so much the better. That ladies and gentleman is mindfulness.

And it happens… sometimes without even trying.


  1. Hey JSS,
    I think I do mindfulness without realising and, like you, it is at the times when I am communing with nature (er... that sounded very tree-hugging, which I'm not, but nature IS a big thing for me)...

    Still thinking of your reply about connection and disconnection. I see the paradox now... I can understand the need to disconnect in order to be connected... Sometimes it seems like a case of "disconnect or die" and for me,I think I disconnected far too late.

    Hope that you are okay.. Would LOVE to see the pup if you ever had the time to fiddle with cameras and uploads and the like...


  2. Hi WS - Declare your tree-hugging tendencies proudly. Human beings were meant to be tree-huggers.

    I've added a picture of my dog. She's an almost 7 month old black Shepherd. Very smart, very high-spirited and very much a pain in the ass at times. But we love her. I have not, nor have I ever been a dog-lover or any animal lover for that matter. Not that I disliked them I just had no interest... until now that is. Having this dog has added a wonderful new dimension to my life. She gets me out every day at least twice a day exercising and hiking through the woods. When I am with her I'm not thinking about anything else and she's excellent company throughout the day.

    Turns out you can teach an old dog new tricks...

  3. Yay!
    Thanks! Lovely to see her!
    She's a looker alright! And if that's her at 7 months... She is going to be one BIG dog!
    Know what you mean about not necessarily being an animal lover but, like you, I think that if I had any pet, it would be a dog.
    I love it that she has added a"wonderful new dimension" to your life. I can imagine that having that kind of company would be good for your spirits... and cos of all the exercise, for your body too!!

    Guess new tricks are good for us, huh? Keep us on our toes!