Detachment Lessons & Mindful Living From my Dog

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by Juan Villegas, E-RYT® 500

Detachment seems to come easily for my 20 pound yorkie Diego. I woke up early this morning, put his leash on and went outside into the -15 weather to the dog park. As I stood complaining about the weather, I watched Diego as he played in the snow, not caring about the cold.

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Downward Facing Dog

Diego is a living reminder of yoga for me. His mindfulness, and enjoyment of simple things are inspiring. How do animals manage to enjoy life so fully despite its challenges or pitfalls? I think because they live fully in the present moment. In yoga we can achieve this through the practice of detachment. 

Living fully in the present moment means not living in the past or thinking about the future. Detachment from both these states enables us to be absolutely present, mindfully enjoying every second that life brings. To detach is to relinquish control over events, to allow things to unfold before us. While i stood at the park I was attached to the warmth I had felt in bed just moments before, whereas Diego was mindfully enjoying the snow, present and aware.

Yoga affords us many ways in which we can practice detachment, the use of breath in asana practice, meditation and pranayama all bring us closer to present moment perfection. The challenge arises when we need to detach off the mat, when driving, doing dishes or standing at the dog park in sub zero temperatures. One of the tools we always have at our disposal is our breath, we can focus on our breath in real time and notice our mind detaching from the events that just occurred as it focuses on the inhale and exhale.

In the Bhagavad Gita 3:19 Krishna says this about detachment ¨always perform with detachment any action you must do; performing action with detachment one achieves supreme good¨

¨supreme good¨ can be seen as a number of things, perhaps liberation of the mind from anxieties, or being fully present for our loved ones. The truth is that detachment can bring us into a state of being truly ourselves, free from the parts of our minds that inhibit our true wonderful nature.

Diego’s detachment from past and future means he lives every moment as though it were the most wonderful moment of his life. Have you noticed the subtle present moment reminders that your pet shows you everyday?