You stand at the threshold of a door with your (real or imagined) dog. Your dog knows you are waiting at the door because its time for a walk! He is SUPER excited to take a walk. He is full of energy, jumping around, yelping gleefully. He’s so hyper that he isn’t focused on anything but getting out that door and exploring every single smell, sight and sound out there. This happens every single time you collect the leash, get your shoes on and head for the door.
So you are standing at the threshold, waiting for your dog to calm down. If you get more animated, mimicking his actions, he will just get MORE excited. If you calm yourself, take some deep breaths, stand still and wait, your dog will calm down (it might take a while. Be patient).
YOUR MIND IS THAT DOG.
In classes this week I have been using this analogy for students to focus on during savasana (final meditation at the end of a yoga class) Then the other day, it occurred to me that the “new age” eastern meditation teacher I picked this up from and Cesar Milan (aka “The Dog Whisperer”) say the exact same thing.
I’m a huge believer in Cesar’s methods for communicating with dogs (I don’t believe it’s dog “training.” I think it’s about getting humans to understand that dogs are dogs and that we can learn to communicate better if we understand their dog culture better.) If you know Cesar’s “way,” one of his primary lessons for us humans is that we need to manifest calm, assertive energy. We are in control. We are the Pack Leader. The dog is a pack animal who needs a leader. They need the human to assert control and set the example so they can follow. Otherwise, the dog will run amok, doing whatever it wants in an uncontrollable whirlwind of dysfunction.
SO, back to the meditation analogy. Your mind is the dog. Your Soul, your Higher Self, your Heart Center, whatever you’d like to call it, is the human in this dog walk scenario. The mind should be submissive to the Soul. The mind should follow the instructions of the Soul. If you allow your mind to take over, you will have chaos, constant movement, an inability to focus, jumping around and non-stop gibberish. And perhaps poop on the bedroom floor, a few chewed up shoes, an over-turned garbage can and crap everywhere.
Cesar says that dogs need to be in a calm, submissive state before they are rewarded with anything. Walk, food, toy, affection, a jump up on the couch. Anything. And here’s the trick: your dog will not be in a calm, submissive state until you are in a calm, assertive state.
It’s the EXACT SAME THING when you are trying to meditate. Your mind, left to run amok, will follow thoughts, make plans, remember conversations and daydream. It will try to solve all of your problems, your family’s problems and your work projects. It will try to balance your checking account, create a menu for dinner and on and on and on. That is, if you LET IT.
But You are in charge. That’s You with a capital Y. Your Soul, Your Intuition, Your Heart is supposed to be in charge. You are the human, standing at the threshold of the door, waiting for the dog to calm its ass down. When the dog pulls on the leash, trying to lead you out the door, you say calmly and assertively, “Heel” and the dog heels. Similarly, when you have a thought during meditation, you say “Breathe” and you bring your awareness back to your breath. When you mind is focused on your breath, it calms its ass down.
When you get that hierarchy of who’s in control, your mind will quiet down and your Heart will sing. And you will hear it finally! That’s your meditation practice.