Be where your paws are

Zoe 'n Me {a dog blog} Be where your paws are | Jordan benShea | Santa Barbara, California

I walked into the yoga studio frustrated and agitated with my day.

It had been a few weeks since I had stepped on my mat but I knew taking care of me was what I needed to do at this moment. Yet that didn’t stop me from doing it with an attitude.

A while back while relaying a frustrating family event situation to my dad he passed along the advice, “if you are going to go then go, but don’t go and then be pissed about it while you are there.” At the time instead I railed against the advice, and as I stepped into the studio I thought about this, here I was being pissed about being there and yet making the choice (and paying for the experience mind you) to be there with an attitude. I expressed that I was having a frustrating day to my yoga teacher and one of my nearby classmates said, “well that’s why you’re here to decrease the stress.” I went into it very skeptical that I would come out with less stress, let alone open to the opportunity for it to be a good practice. Let’s be honest my mindset at the time was better suited for a gun range rather than a yoga studio.

I was early like usual so I laid on my mat, closed my eyes and began to deep breath. The class began and as we started to flow my yoga teacher said “today I want you to focus on a phrase you have probably heard before, ‘be where your feet are’.” At that point i was anywhere but where my feet were. That piece of advice combined with the music playing, and the addictive intoxicating smell of my Lululemon mat (which still smells 6 months later but has me instantly associate the odor with yoga) began to snap me out of my bad mood.

Then I started to think about Zoe. She is always where her paws are, if she is sitting she is focusing 100% on what is in front of her, not what’s behind her or to the side, let alone something she can’t even see. Is she aware of her surroundings? Of course, but not crumpled by them. But we as humans focus on what’s to the right and left and behind and above and below us, and many times on things that which aren’t even in our viewpoint if we circled around. We focus on something someone said to us earlier in the day, a look we think someone might have given us, replay in our minds a conversation in which we wish we would have responded differently, or hound (pun of course intended) ourselves with critical thoughts of how we could be better. We focus on things which have been very well documented to be out of our control, and yet we transfix on them.

The other morning I was wide awake at 4 something, why? What sort of world issues would I be solving at 4am? Not good ones for sure. I feel pretty confident I could take the Olympic gold medal in over thinking things which are way beyond my control, yeah I am SUPER good at that. But how good am I at being where my feet are? How good am I at closing my eyes back at 4am rest assured that 6am will provide just as many answers? Clearly this is an area where I could use some guidance.

And as usual I am looking at Zoe for guidance, recognizing that while of course my dog has less ongoing responsibilities than me (although she may disagree while she is protecting me from the clear and pressent danger of squirrels), I can learn a lot from her to be in the present. She isn’t concerned about a look she got from a dog on the beach last week, or how another dog barked at her as we walked by in a store, how one of her pack dogs didn’t want to share their treats with her, let alone whether or not she jumped high enough to reach a stick being thrown for her. She isn’t sitting riddled with rejection or even given a second thought to any of these scenarios. And really why should we?

Granted there are things in our life we have to be aware of and discuss and observe, but in general why the (sorry mom, I am going to swear here) fuck should we care so much about these things out of our control?

As I left my yoga class I felt completely nourished, realizing the experience was exactly what I needed. As the fantastic Rolling Stones song goes, you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you get what you need. What we need is to be where our feet are, where our paws are, and remember we might not always get what we want, but sometimes we get exactly what we need.

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