Monday, August 16, 2010

Mindful Romp

Saturday Bug, Katrin, James (FCR), and I attended a class called the “Mindful Romp” at an ashram in Millis. The class was a combination of mindfulness (lecture/discussion) and yoga stances with your dog. The instructor was a student of Katrin’s and had shared the class information with her. I am so glad she did!

When we arrived Bug was, as Katrin said, “wired for sound.” He was high and obnoxious (big barks at another student’s dog at least 100’ away; what the heck!). This sent my stress level up and compounded his high energy. I did not feel like we were off to a good start. Once Bug met the other dog (Angel) he chilled out.

This reminded me of a blog post I read recently about dogs greeting on leash and the expectation some dogs have that they should be allowed to greet on leash. I usually have butterflies in my stomach with on leash greetings. It seems that someone’s leash is always tight, the dogs get tangled, and the owners are often clueless – essentially not a combination that encourages appropriate behavior. We typically do not greet on-leash if we can help it, so I don’t feel like Bug expects it as a rule. I might be kidding myself though given what tunnel vision he had on Saturday.

We congregated on the deck (3 students/dogs and the instructor/dog) and discussed mindfulness and being present before taking a stroll around the ashram’s grounds.

When we returned to the deck a new student and her dog joined the group. The new dog disrupted the energy we had established on the walk and it took a bit for everyone to settle. As we started to do different yoga stances the dogs were all on guard – watching the people walking on the grounds carefully and alarm barking.

As the class progressed the dogs became more and more relaxed. Toward the end of the class, when we did our final pose (laying flat on our backs with our feet between 8” – 12” apart and our palms facing the sky) our instructor commented on how all the dogs were touching their humans. Bug chose to lie on my hand! The transformation in the energy of all the dogs over the course of the hour was really interesting. I think it was very much tied to the dogs’ humans’ energy.

It was a really enjoyable way to spend the morning and it gave me a lot to think about. Over the past year or two I have had a lot of major things occur and as a result have experienced more anxiety than previously in my life. I had already decided to make an investment in my mental health by enrolling in a Stress Reduction Program offered by the Center for Mindfulness at UMASS Medical School. Attending the Mindful Romp and seeing very clearly how much my energy affected Bug’s energy confirmed the Stress Reduction class is a step in the right direction.

I am very curious to see what effect my making an effort to be more mindful and present will have on my boys and my life in general. I am also hopeful the ashram will choose to offer additional Mindful Romp classes!


Sara said...

Fascinating stuff.

Never heard of yoga stances for your dog! How cool.

Katrin said...

No the dogs didn't do yoga stances, the people did. the dogs just hung out and were part of the group, reminding us to live in the moment and be present.

Thanks again for coming with me Julie! I hope we get to do it again sometime!

Kathy said...

That sounds really neat, I would love to go to something like that.

Jules said...

Yes, sorry Sara, I worded that poorly. The dogs did not actually do stances other than the ones they do naturally (downward facing dog and upward facing dog).

Blue said...

That sounds like a fun day. I'd love to hear more about the Stress Reduction Program if/when you take it.