Practicing Observing

Mindfulness Practice: Observing

I recently got a puppy and have started the practice of walking her everyday. I live across the street from a park and a lake, so it works well to walk at sunset and it is so beautiful. Because it makes so much sense at this time, I try to clear my mind of thoughts and just observe. When I am able to do it, it's so peaceful and refreshing! Yet I'm amazed at how much I struggle to stay on the present. My mind so easily wanders away chattering and worrying nonsensically. When I become aware of it, I pull myself back to the moment.

What I realize I need to work on more is not beating myself up for wandering away. When I was learning DBT, I was instructed to bring myself back gently and without judgment when I find I've drifted and to see that the more I drift, the more opportunities I have to practice returning to the moment. The perfectionist in me always expects more from myself than I'd ever expect from anyone else. On my walk tomorrow, I'll practice non-judgmental observation and non-judgmental return to observation.

Animal Observation

My cats are over here tormenting the puppy. Poor baby. When Delilah arrived, they all made an initial truce that, no matter how unfair it seemed to the puppy, cats simply cannot debase themselves so low as to engage in "dog play." Okay. Delilah learned. She didn't like it, but she's not stupid. Well, I don't know if you have any cats, but that just wasn't good enough. There's no more effective way to attract a cat than to ignore it. So they provoke her! Like when she comes in from the cold, they'll wait at the top of the stairs twitching their tails, knowing full well that they're attracting Delilah's attention. After her paws are cleaned, she goes chasing them and they jump up on something or suddenly turn back on her and hiss like they're being unfairly attacked.

At first, I thought the cats innocent and yelled at the dog to stay away from the cats, but they provoke her. Like when I'm giving Delilah attention and they've decided that she's had enough. Athena, the black cat, will jump on the top of the chair and try to attach herself to my shoulders or the top of my head. Of course, Delilah forgets herself in hopes that Athena's come to her senses about playing. No chance! As soon as Athena gets Delilah to walk away from me, Cairo, the white cat, joins in and gets her barking. What they want me to do (but I'm learning) is to yell at the dog and then they're victorious. Delilah slinks away and Athena will jump triumphantly into my lap so I'll pet her and prove to Delilah that the cat is the top animal. But my training is coming along as well. Who says animals are dumb? It takes all my mental powers to figure out these little games and when I do, they all keep me jumping in order to go out of my way to keep all of them happy (like eliciting treat bribes). I wonder whose on display here? In my human egotism, I believe I'm enjoying watching funny animal antics and gradually training my pets. But maybe in their smug little brains, they're enjoying watching me dance for them, while waiting patiently for the day when I'm fully trained to keep them happy round the clock!

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