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Mindfulness is big. People read books, search online and pay good money for seminars and personal instruction.

I get free, daily Zen instruction from a true master: a six-year-old rescue dog named Ringo.

Ringo practices walking mindfulness. He takes me along for lessons.

He doesn’t go for a walk like you and I do, straight from Point A to Point B as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Ringo has no set destination for the journey, except back home. It’s more a meander. With sudden, baffling changes in course and direction.

(Why do dogs do that? Do they follow an inner light? Do they get signals from another universe?)

There are frequent stops to – literally – smell the roses. And grass. And shrubs. And weeds. And pine straw. Not to mention trees, hydrants, power poles and any other structure where another dog left a message. And to leave his own pee-mail.

Ringo has taught me that his stops aren’t interruptions to be ended quickly so we can get on with the walk. Rather, they are signals for me to stop, too. Look at the sky. Feel the sun and wind. Look around. Watch other people. (Observation: resting bitchy face is not solely a female phenomenon.) Be here, now.

Eventually we circle back to where we started. Where I get another lesson: Time for a nap.

Consider this a complimentary lesson from Ringo for your practice in the New Year. Happy 2016.



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