Mental & Emotional Health

Mindfulness and Your Dog

If you’d like to get the benefits of mindfulness but aren’t quite ready or willing to enroll in a yoga class or start a daily journal, here’s something you might like better: taking a walk with your dog. In fact, the experts from Harvard Medical School recommend that you let your dog show you the way to be mindful.

According to these experts, who have written a Harvard Health Special Report, Get Healthy, Get a Dog, pooches are a perfect example of mindfulness, of being in the moment. A dog lives for the moment and is “joyously present” to everything he or she meets along the way.

Here’s what the Harvard experts recommend:

When you start out on your walk with your dog, pay attention to the sensations in your body.

Breathe in and breathe out while letting your stomach expand. Then inhale and exhale through your mouth.

While you’re walking, the experts recommend, use your senses to observe what’s around you: touch, sight, sound.

Inevitably, your mind will wander; in that case, the Harvard experts say, bring your attention back to the moment of being outside with your dog in a beautiful environment.

And the benefits of mindfulness go beyond that, the experts say. It’s a “lifelong practice” that can help you focus on the positive in your life. That’s likely to lead to less worry, stress and regret.

To learn more about the health benefits of owning a dog, as well as raising and living with your canine family member, buy Get Healthy, Get a Dog, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School. Click here to order.