With patience and Cheerios, I trained my dog RussellClive to do his morning business in our backyard.
My Ironman and I purchased our first house last spring; as part of our new-house-routine, I decided Russ needed to break his addiction to 5:00 am walks and learn to “go outside” (as most dogs do) so that when Baby Drack arrived I could, conceivably, take care of her inside the house while he took care of himself outside the house.
I spent hours walking in circles in the backyard. I mean, hours of walking slowly, going nowhere (as Pico Iyer describes it), patiently telling RussellClive to go potty on the grass. Or on the leaves. Or on the landscaping. Or on the fence. Or, dear God, on ANYTHING in our backyard.
It occurred to me one morning that circling my little yard was a labyrinth walking meditation.
A labyrinth is traceable shape, similar to a maze, with a single branching path that leads to its center and back out again. Labyrinth walking is a contemplative spiritual practice used in faith traditions for spiritual centering. On the circular path of a labyrinth, you walk slowly and deliberately while quieting your mind to get clear about what really matters.
In her book Real Happiness, Sharon Salzberg describes walking meditation as “a model for being mindful in all the movements we make throughout the day.”
Shifting my perspective about the quality of my minutes spent walking in circles in the backyard helped me remember that each morning truly is a gift. It’s not something to be rushed through, it’s a time to spend in spiritual and emotional self-care that sets the tone for my day.
When can you spend time walking in circles? Can you discover the value in the repetitive mundane motion of mindless daily tasks and transform that time into a time of focused self-care? How can you use your morning routine to set the tone for the day?
(If you haven’t tried Walking Meditation before, I suggest getting Salzberg’s book Real Happiness to kickstart your meditation practice.)