Taking your mind for a walk


Our dog Mosley is “spirited”.

Taking him on a walk when he was a puppy was an ordeal. He would pull at the leash, stop suddenly, veer off course constantly, sniff everything he came upon, get agitated if we came across any other dogs, and totally freak out if he saw a cat anywhere. (Cats… they drive him to barking fits like nothing else does.)

But, over time, he began to settle down for our walks. He still gets a little frantic at the start of a walk, but he quickly calms himself and gets into a smooth flow with me. Unless he spies a cat, of course.

I’ve been meditating somewhat regularly over the past year. Some weeks I sit for ten to twenty minutes every day. Other weeks I may sit only once or twice. 

But I’m not very good at it when I do make the time to sit. My mind is like the puppy version of Mosley. It won’t stay still and pulls and veers and gets so easily distracted. Some days it settles enough to flow smoothly along with my breath for at least a few minutes. Most days it tugs at the leash the whole time. 

I’m sticking with it, though. I’m clearly still in the puppy phase of my mindfulness practice. But I know my mind and my emotional well-being need at least a portion of the attention and discipline I focus on my physical body and my work.

I’m even more aware lately that humans “were built to be effective animals, not happy ones”, and it’s on me to upgrade my own operating system if I want more happiness and peace and wholeheartedness. Mindful calm is not our default state. 

Tim Ferriss recently interviewed the meditation teacher Tara Brach. It’s an interesting conversation which included this big statement:

“Meditation is evolution’s strategy to bring out our full potential.” –Tara Brach

Certainly, if more humans were better able to master their minds and their emotions, we would be a lot further along as a species.

This is a hard practice, but if even a little of the benefits spill over into my life and the way I interact with my family, my friends, and anyone I encounter, it will be worth persisting in the effort. 

I want to see reality more clearly and embrace whatever comes without resistance.

Maybe I’m a slow learner with this—even a perpetual puppy. I will keep giving it a go and just see how often my mind will let the leash draw some slack and flow along.

Even if there are cats.