I just got off the trail by my house which is one of the great joys of my life. This trail. There’s a bike trail and a walking trail. Officially, you’re supposed to have your dog on a leash but there are a lot of dogs let off leashes by their owners.
Dogs are funny. They act different ways, whether they are on a leash or off a leash. You can have a dog who is super friendly and thinks you are the most exciting thing ever, and just wants to wag and come up and meet you. Some of them are just off sniffing and seeing what is out there. They’re wandering away and don’t even want to give you the time of day.
Some dogs are not so friendly and are worried and skittish or aggressive. They are concerned that you could be a threat to them or their owners. When they are let off their leash, that is a potential danger. It could lead to stress on the part of the humans, maybe altercations, and even physical harm. These are the kinds of dogs who shouldn’t be let off a leash in that environment.
I’m going to draw a parallel here between dogs and your mind. Where does your mind go when you let it off the leash, when you let it wander and roam?
If your mind goes to that happy, excited, tail-wagging place where new experiences and ideas are exciting or just goes off day-dreaming to see what’s out there in the recesses of your mind, that’s all good. You should definitely go out of your way to make sure that you have time to let your mind off the leash, to let your mind wander so that you can have those experiences.
If your mind goes to worry, stress, and seeing other people and the world as a threat to you or the people you love, that is a mind that needs to be tethered. In terms of roaming, it needs parameters.
Because here’s the thing, even with dogs. If you put a dog who feels stressed or might be aggressive or skittish into a place it feels safe, like a yard or your house and it has parameters, it can be that happy, wagging, excited being. It just needs that place where it feels safe.
If your mind does that too, then your mind needs parameters. That can just be intention-setting. When you know you’re going to let your mind wander, set an intention for it. If you find that your mind goes there every time it wanders or you are in a time of your life when that is happening, you can get professional help with a therapist or a coach. You can get books. You can take courses. You can help tether your mind with some training, so that you still get to experience those happy moments when it wanders. It doesn’t have to wander to worry or concern.
If your mind wanders to creative happy places, get it off a leash. Find a place where you can take your mind and let it go. Just like these dog-owners let their dogs roam, go live, and experience life.
I will say that I have never met an aggressive dog off a leash on my trail. My dog-owners are awesome. And dogs need a place for that.
Your mind needs a place for that, too.