Who is Training Whom?
As a follow up from my Mindfulness in the Park class Thursday, I made a short mediation video (10 mins - yes Nils) which became my Day 19 of my 21 Days to Mindful Meditation series on my YouTube channel. This meditation is a bit simpler than the one we practices in class in that it encourages the listener to merely follow the breath and when the mind wonders (as it will) without judgement you are then invited to notice or acknowledge what has drawn your attention away from the breath (e.g., a urge to cough, thought, achy neck) and just "let it go" and "begin again" with the next breath.
It is a simple meditation but I know not as easy as it sounds. However, if we practice this way over and over again we lay down the neuropathways so that when we want to "let go" of something more challenging (e.g., judging of self in the way we responded or didn't respond to someone, fear, shame, harsh words) we are rewiring the brain so that next time it will be a bit easier. The good news is change is possible the bad news is it takes time.
This brings me to a story about Winston and a conversation I just had with a dear friend regarding changing Winston's behaviour around other dogs when he is on a leash. And it just hit me while I was typing an email to the class participants her advice to me was very similar to what I am sharing with you. Let me explain.
Anyone who knows Winston is aware he is a loving wonderful dog; he is gentle with people and especially patient with our little grandnieces and nephews as they throw ball for him over and over again. However, on a leash he becomes a different "person" - yes I know that is an issue too but I digress. My friend's suggestion was that I need to expose Winston to other dogs while he is on a leash, at a distance, so he can learn to remain calm enabling him to eventually associate other dogs with being calm. This is not news to me, I hate to admit it; but, a trainer once told me to do this very thing (after charging me $200). She assured me if I do this for two weeks everyday and we will change his behavior.
So here is the quandary, why haven't I been able to change his behaviour or get myself to do this simple thing for two weeks if the potential gain is so great. The thought of being able to walk Winston in the Rose garden or have him sit with me as I teach a mindfulness class fills me with sheer joy. So why can't I or why haven't I followed through?
But let me be honest with you, I am very good at setting new practices for myself such as a daily meditation or daily exercise, writing program; but, I am really struggling with this one. I will try a time or two and he will do fine and then the third dog comes around the corner and he "looses it" and I am done. We go home and I feel defeated because I haven't been able to change his behaviour. While Winston as a dog is very good at "shaking things off" I as a flawed human am not sometimes (eek - letting go!). And it is then I had my light bulb moment - this isn't Winston's behaviour that needs to change it is MINE (oh crap). I yes me need to make friends with the discomfort I feel when Winston isn't successful. I need to create some space for myself take a deep breath and not take it so personally when this happens.
It takes time for us as humans to lay down new neuropathways at least 21 days and I am certain it does for dogs too. The new neuropathways I need to lay down for me are probably something like this "... ok, so this is discomfort, embarrassment, breathing in, breathing out and letting it go - oh and yes - beginning again." I need to change my behavior so he has the time to change his. This is not rocket science but I truly think making friends or setting a beautiful table for "frustration, embarrassment, and discomfort" is likely to help me be more consistent and give this next 2 weeks to training me and not Winston!
We will see how my training goes I will keep you in the loop.
Be Well - Namaste