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  • Writer's pictureRita

Mindfulness... alpaca style

“Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Alpacas grazing

Have you ever been outdoors for hours simply watching something? No, not hours spent looking at shop windows or watching a tennis grand slam. I mean outdoors, in nature, sitting on the bare ground, staring at something captivating... Have you?

Perhaps you have spent hours watching a slow sunset when on holidays, or perhaps you have spent hours staring at the horizon from a lookout high in the mountains. For me, that something that captivates me and makes me spent hours outdoors is alpacas. I never thought these unusual camelids would be my best mindfulness teachers. For years, I attended meditation courses, tried various therapies and read hundreds of zen books. Yet, none of them taught me what my alpacas have. Every time I go outside in the paddock, I find myself slowing down, as if a beautiful sunset is unfolding. I wait, breathe and watch as my alpacas approach. I watch them from head to toe, noticing their gait, their humming sounds, the way their fleeces slowly grows, the brightness in their eyes.

Meditation.... alpaca style

It wasn't always like this. When I first started with alpacas, I was scared. I didn't know what to expect, how to handle them, if they would like me or not. Frustration would set in. Why isn't this working? Why don't they move where I want them to move? Somehow I found peace during feeding time: sitting on a chair in the paddock, lucerne around me, alpacas would come and munch. So I realised I had to pay attention, sit with them, watch and observe. They settled. I settled. And I started breathing slowly...

My alpacas have been my best mindfulness teachers. If I hurry, if I have too many thoughts in my head, if I am thinking of dinner while doing some husbandry with them... it won't work. Chasing them is as futile as chasing happiness. Force accomplishes nothing. It's the light touch, the patient wait, the daily observing that works. My alpacas have taught me to be calm, to accept things I cannot change, to do what I can in this moment, to breathe and be patient.

I learned trust. I learned to lie down on the pasture and close my eyes, and feel their breath as they explore my shoes, my hair, my clothes. They learned I mean no harm. And I learned they are here to teach me to be a better person.

“Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Restful mindfulness


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