Updated: Jul 18
You know that feeling you get when you connect deeply with an animal, using your senses to focus and truly be in the moment providing care? If so, you're already practicing mindfulness. In this blog, I will explore mindfulness - being present in the moment and fully connected to yourself and the world around you - and how mindfulness can support wellness in the veterinary community.
Photo from unsplash.com
One of my favorite examples of mindfulness comes from our dog, Jack. We adopted Jack a few years ago. He is a three-year-old Australian Shepherd/Border Collie Mix. Every day he loves to try to chase squirrels in our backyard and honestly, he hasn’t caught one yet. That doesn’t stop Jack, he just keeps running around, barking, and trying to see if he can finally get one.
About a year ago I was watching him do this and noticed something beautiful. At one point he stopped running and paused - he lifted his head up and felt the warm sun on his furry face. He closed his eyes and he sniffed the cool breeze. Jack took just a moment to pause. He soaked up that beautiful, sunny moment - and then a few moments later, he went back to his job of trying to catch a squirrel.
Photo of Jack (our dog)
It might sound funny to think about Jack practicing mindfulness, but we all know that sometimes animals can be our best teachers. He purposefully chose to stop, to engage with the moment, with his senses, with his body, and to just be. I’d like to think that this small reset helped him regain momentum with his squirrel chasing. :)
Mindfulness is about cultivating present moment awareness. It is about your ability to notice your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations in this moment that is unfolding right now with a sense of curiosity.
There are many different ways to engage in mindfulness. You can take some quiet moments to yourself to find stillness or to meditate, but you don’t have to. You can take a walk or simply listen to the sounds around you. You can take a moment to connect with your breath or with your body. You can connect with a companion animal or patient - noticing their soft fur or eyes. You can take a moment to communicate mindfully with a friend or co-worker, or to listen to a client.
Photo from pexels.com
There are many entry points for mindfulness - such as playing a game with a loved one, being in nature, creating art, or listening to music. You could even choose to take a moment to mindfully notice the food or drink you are enjoying.
Mindfulness has been gaining momentum in recent years and at times it can feel like a buzzword or even gimmicky. The reality is that for decades there has been peer-reviewed research on the impact of mindfulness in healthcare, business, education, and now, specifically in veterinary medicine.
In my next few blog posts, I will explore the research on mindfulness and some specific studies that have shown the benefits of mindfulness in the context of veterinary medicine, so stay tuned!
For now, I invite you to think about Jack and see when in your day you can take just a moment, maybe a minute or two - or even 5 minutes - to breathe, to experience some stillness and to check in with how you are feeling or what is happening around you. You might do this in your car, outside in nature, or maybe even in the bathroom - if that is the best place for you to step away for a moment.
Thank you for reading this blog post! Feel free to reach out with your ideas, questions, and comments. I am excited to be part of the growing movement to support veterinary wellness!
Peace Within also offers Mindful Vet Med - customized, audio-based mindfulness meditations designed specifically for veterinary professionals. The meditations are 5 minutes or less and support your daily well-being routines.