Life can be hectic, and we often find ourselves stressing over the trivial details. Money, work, schedules, and appointments can all take their mental toll.
Imagine a silent mind and the peace that it would offer.
To live moment by moment, with non-judgment is the practice of mindfulness, and it’s a way of being that is the norm for every other animal on this planet. Let’s look to some other animals’ behaviors that we might be able to learn from.
Anyone who’s tried to train a dog knows that its attention is fixated solely on what’s happening in the moment. If a puppy makes a mess and you scold it, then it will be remorseful. If you offer it a treat moments later, the guilt will be gone with the puppy left immersed in its excitement.
To let the past go so easily—along with the associated emotions and experiences—is the endgame of mindfulness.
Speech and cognition separate us from the animal world. While it’s allowed us to craft a society with more good in it than one could ever describe, it does have its drawbacks. From speech comes rumination; we tell ourselves stories that either build us up or bring us down. These stories, though, are a waste of time; we start to believe them they can lead to anxious and depressed thinking.
Perhaps we can most learn from the playfulness of animals in the wild. Otter, lemurs, meerkats, and dolphins are all notorious for enjoying their lives—making a playground of the world around them.
Elephants have been described as comedic and hilarious by the great environmentalist and conservationist Joyce Poole. They often make light of themselves by running and pretending to trip and fall for the amusement of others. In being playful there is never consideration or overthinking, only the joy of living in the moment and having fun with life.
A solid practice in mindfulness can help us learn to live with the lighthearted simplicity of other animals and fully enjoy the present moment.
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