Dog Meditation: All the Rage in L.A.
See the dog, be the God. So goes the mantra at the Buddhist-Bowwow Institute, where dog owners and their canine companions practice ancient meditation techniques.
By George Wolfe
SILVER LAKE — Meditation isn't just for people anymore. Now,
after thousands of years of companionship, dogs can learn to relieve
stress and raise their own consciousness through the age-old process
of being still and going inward.
"We talk down to them and yell "Sit!"
while we ourselves find it difficult to do just that: Sit and be still."
— Clöe Ghesang,
founder, Buddhist-Bowwow Institute
The Buddhist-Bowwow Institute was founded by
Clöe Ghesang, a veterinarian who was personally drawn toward
Eastern Religion and has traveled throughout India. "Most people
believe that dogs are capable of only certain basic tasks. We talk
down to them and yell "Sit!" while we ourselves find it
difficult to do just that: Sit and be still. So maybe we're really
just angry with that restless part of ourselves. With the Institute,
however, we finally have a place where dog lovers and dogs can sit
side-by-side and do the work together."
Since dogs are so good at pure being and unconditional
love (as the Institute's theory goes), the people participants are
able to feed off the energy that dogs bring to class. And vice versa:
The dogs are said to be eager to follow the example that their masters
set by being motionless.
In the first class offered, participants do their best to meditate
for an hour. Ten-minute segments of sitting are interspersed with
five-minute "walking meditations" in which the dogs and
people slowly circle the perimeter of the class before returning
to their sitting locations.
"It sounds crazy, but it's awesome," says Donovan McKee,
who signed up with his Weimaraner. "She's only a couple years
old and tends to be a little high-strung, but when she saw all the
others sitting and being blissful — well, I heard her utter
a faint 'yelp' and I could swear I saw something in her, like…
surrender. After that, she followed along and got real calm. And
there's been a real positive, residual energy floating around our
home now, too. So that's cool."
As to what exactly goes on in the mind of a dog who's meditating, no one could say. "But they've done studies," chimes Ghesang, "where they hook dogs up to wires and test their brains and — sure enough — they're actually able to enter a state of heightened alpha wave generation that's akin to 'wakeful relaxation.'"
"I don't know what that means to you,"
Ghesang adds, "but that tells me we're all in search of our
DOG HEAVEN: Dogs like Om showed up at the first meditation class
offered for canines and homo sapiens. Participants on both sides
of the divide were blissed out.