Live Humble as a Dog


Live humble as a dog and the world will come alive in your mouth.

The day I brought my golden retriever home as a pup, I had no idea that she would become my teacher. She was seven weeks old and slept in my shirt the whole way home. I could feel her small rhythmic exhalation like a tiny animal wind warming my heart. Day by day, I came to understand her sheer, complete, and constant presence. I never knew anything to be so thoroughly involved in the moment at hand, so innocently devoted to whatever was before her. If she was rolling in grass, the world was the grass and the feel of the roll. If she was circling the rug to lie down, life was solely the want to curl and sigh. I came to envy my puppy’s ability to be completely wherever she was.

I also came to understand how she knew the world through touch, primarily through her mouth. Without the hesitation that plagues humans, she stuck her snout in everything, and this immediate knowledge of things gave her joy.

This little dog, incapable of words, taught me that there is an inexpressible feeling of foundation that comes from staying directly connected to the earth, a humility that comes from directly touching whatever we are experiencing. This direct connection helps bring things alive; it is refreshing. In this way, the energy of the world floods through whatever moment we dare to enter fully.

  • This is a walking meditation. Center yourself and walk in rhythm with your breathing.
  • As details come alive for you—the light on a branch, the slickness of a puddle, the moss growing from a stone—try to touch the simple things that call to you.
  • Breathe deeply and nose your heart into the day.


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Excerpted from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo. Used with permission from Conari Press.

The 2018 Book of Awakening Calendar is now available from Amber Lotus Publishing

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Mark will be teaching a 3-day retreat at The Sophia Institute, Charleston, SC SEPT 15-17. On Friday night he will read from his new book, Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living, and Weekend Retreat (Sat and Sun), Heartwork: Being a Spirit in the World. 


About Author

Mark Nepo moved and inspired readers with his #1 New York Times bestseller The Book of Awakening. His recent work includes a new book of poetry, The Way Under the Way: The Place of True Meeting (Sounds True, November 2016) and the upcoming Things That Join the Sea and the Sky: Field Notes on Living (Sounds True, November 2017).

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