Mindfulness is a word used in a lot of settings these days. When a therapist uses the term “mindfulness,” they are referring to the art of staying in the present moment. Most of our anxiety comes from worries about the past or fears about the future, so if we can just stay in the present moment, that is when we are most relaxed. One easy and doable exercise to access the present moment is to utilize ones 5 senses: what can we see, what can we hear, what can we feel/touch, what can we smell, and what can we taste. We can use this technique almost anywhere we are.
Mindfulness with Your Pet: If you have a furry friend that enjoys being touched and paid attention to, you have an easy vehicle for a mindfulness exercise. In the case of your pet, you will not be tasting your pet. In most cases, this is not hygienic. Start with what you can observe about your pet using your sense of sight. Does your pet have different colors or are they just one color. Notice the different colors that your pet has on different parts of its body. Is its stomach a different color from its back? Are its eyes a different color from its fur? Does your pet have spots? What else is unique about the way your pet looks? Notice the shape and size of its different body parts. How much do you think your pet might weigh? Next, put your ear up against your pet and listen to the sounds your pet makes. Is it purring? Can you hear it breathing? Is it snoring? Is its stomach making any sounds? Are there any other sounds your pet makes? Next, feel your pet from head to toe. Your pet will LOVE this. What different textures do you feel? Is your pet’s fur different in different places on its body? Where is it boney, and where does your pet have extra flesh? Is it’s nose cold or warm? Feel the temperature of your pet. Is the temperature different on different parts of its body? Where is your pet the most soft? Enjoy the sensation on your hands as you run your hands over your pet’s body. Finally, smell your pet. A safe place to smell your pet is usually on its head or its back. Does your pet’s smell remind you of anything else? Is your pet clean or does it need a bath? I noticed when smelling my dog’s feet (yes, the one pictured) that they smelled like popcorn. Notice the warm feelings that come up for you as you attend so carefully to your pet. Does it bring up memories of past times with your pet? Are you aware of how much you adore your pet? If so, enjoy that feeling and try to make it last. That feeling and this exercise can get one through many anxious moments.