Clinical Psychologist specialising in
Emotional Intelligence and Mindfulness

Use Mindfulness To Put Your Puppy On A Leash by Fiona Walsh

I fell into the practice of mindfulness by accident all due to a puppy. I found myself sitting in a park one day, watching a puppy – running here and there, sniffing something, then running up to another dog or another person, then bounding off to pick up a stick, then back to their owner, then off again. That frenetic, unfocused energy made me smile and feel tired at the same time.

Reluctantly I left the park and the sunshine to head back to work, opened my computer and tried to decide on where to get started again – one of three projects that were all due soon, the clamour of unanswered emails, finish one of the 6 half-written emails open on my screen, write that performance review I was putting off, look at my to-do list and add a few more items I had thought of in the park or read some industry news? In a moment of blinding clarity, I realized I was that puppy at work. Jumping here and there, telling myself I was productive because I was multi-tasking. Getting to the end of the day and wondering why people hadn’t responded to my emails only to discover my emails were only half-written and hadn’t been sent yet! Finding multiple documents open and work half-finished on them. The to-do list that never seemed to get shorter. I realized I was tired and lacking focus and not really having as much fun with work as I’d like.

Now I’ve played with meditation over the years and have found it extremely difficult to sit still and do it ‘right’. But I glanced over and saw the little blue volume The Mindfulness Book sitting on my desk and thought – “What’s to lose?” I did a quick read of the first couple of chapters and started using a very simple tool that Dr. Martyn Newman writes about in this very useful book. I call it the “lopsided triangle”. Breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 7 seconds and breathe out through your mouth for 8 seconds. Do this up to 8 times.

I love this tool! I was surprised at how effectively and quickly it works – calms me, gets me focused, quiets my inner voice and puts me back in control. I do it daily now and I also use it when I find myself getting frustrated or procrastinating. Such a simple exercise with powerful results! I have used it in stressful situations, when dealing with difficult people or when I feel my mind running around in a frenzy.

So the next time you feel frazzled and stressed, put your puppy on a leash with this little exercise!