For sometime now, I have been calling my morning walks with my dog, Love, my "awareness walks." I do my best to keep my focus on her and notice what she notices, and how she notices, and what she does.
Yesterday morning (and, admittedly some other mornings) I woke up later than I needed to and did a "rush job" walking her. Didn't spend a lick being aware - except to be aware of the little time I had to get to where I was going (a half-marathon). This morning, I had time. But it had started to rain.
First, I thought that Love and I would just walk around our apartment complex (grass lawns and sidewalk paths) because I didn't want to be out in the rain. But then I thought I had better make sure she has a good walk now, as later it may be raining harder. I also had to be honest with myself: I was simply not in the mood to walk. I wanted to put it off. I didn't feel like being present and aware. I wanted to crawl back in bed.
But that little voice, that little reasonable Karma voice jumped in and said, "Nicky, this is what you committed to doing. Stick with your commitments. Stay the course. You will be happier if you do." So, off we went.
Walking through the alley way, I listened to Love's little nails clicking against the pavement. She seemed to pay no attention to the rain drops as they lightly fell on her head and back. If we had a backyard and I opened the door to let her out, Love would choose to stay inside. She does not like the rain...Unless she is being taken for a walk. Then the rain doesn't seem to bother her at all. Interesting.
Love has a tendency to want to walk across the street from our complex, and the second we hit the sidewalk (my unit sits about 1/2 a block back from the street), she strains to cross the street. Today, that was okay, but somedays there are cars coming and I have to really work to hold her back. I always wonder why Love prefers the other side. When we walk back towards the house, she is fine with being on "our side." Hmmm...
As we continued to walk, I watched Love stop and sniff at some things: really taking her time to check them out, while with others, they simply got a "quickie." Often she will stop in the same places as usual and spend time with them. Other times she will ignore those places all together and I wonder if there is a rhyme or reason to this.
As our walk progressed, so did the rain. And I began to enjoy it. Early morning, with my dog, fresh rain, cleaning out the old, bringing in the new. I like that for 20 minutes, I was able to get out of my own way and let Love have hers. I am grateful that I could focus on Love, our neighborhood, the weather. Where as in meditation when I drift off/spin out/ "think", I bring myself back to my breath, during our morning walks, I bring my attention back to Love. For just that time, I don't "worry" about what I have to do next or what just happened beforehand.
It's a good practice for me.