I’ve never been much at meditation. Back in 2004, I was invited to drop out of a beginners’ class. My ineptness offended the master. Or perhaps she objected to my guide dog sharing my mat, but I doubt that. The dog was more meditative than I.
Calming this mind becomes a test of will. I get too hung up on superficial details — soft lighting, mood music, comfy cushions. I am too controlling to allow connection to any power other than selfism.
So, when my friend described her habit of “walking meditation,” I listened. And it came to me that walking with my Seeing Eye dog is meditative. When I grasp his harness handle, we become a team. We trust one another. He guides. I direct and correct. Our roles compliment. He does what comes naturally. I relax and go with his flow. We get rhythm. I feel tension dissolve. I let my mind wander to sounds and smells and textures. I am aware but receptive. I absorb more and transmit less. This is the serenity of surrender and acceptance, of allowing a power to do for me what I cannot do for myself.
Years ago, hypervigilance was my default state of mind as a blind person. I stalked the streets with furrowed brow, hunched shoulders, rigid joints and stilted gait. Even coupled with my white cane, I remained the white-knuckled student driver, fraught with fears I would crash, run off the road or knock myself silly on a tree limb. With my dog, I throttle down and become more the Sunday driver, calm yet attentive. My stick-figure strut softens into a loose-limbed mosey.
Dogs aren’t for everyone. They shed, drool, steal food and sniff people impolitely. For twelve years, half my blind life, I have chosen the responsibility of guide dog ownership. I have been richly rewarded with physical safety, emotional companionship and spiritual connection. Spiritual connection you ask? Yes, any guide, whether human, canine or cosmic, who leads this wandering soul to peace is a gift and a blessing.