Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Chill. Don't attack the herd.

The other night I watched a documentary about dog trainers and their dogs. In a segment about border collies (which are very smart dogs), the trainer explained that a crucial part of training is teaching the dog not only how to herd but also how to relax—or, as the trainer put it, to know when to "kill" and when to "chill."

The reason is this: A border collie can get emotionally wound up while zipping back and forth to round up a herd of sheep. But once the sheep have been rounded up and are all grazing quietly, the dog has to shift almost immediately into "chill" mode. That means sitting down and watching the herd quietly and from a slight distance.

A dog who doesn't chill and continues to harass to herd will not only make the sheep nervous (and possibly scatter them) but may become too aggressive and end up attacking the sheep (which will not exactly help the dog at performance appraisal time).

Hmm, are there any parallels to this phenomenon—getting so wound up that we end up lashing out at the people we're supposed to watch over, protect, or work with? Do some of us stay in "kill" mode when we need to be in "chill" mode?

So remember: Don't attack the herd. Mellow out.

But learning to relax is a skill. It takes deliberate effort and practice. And Mellow Monk is here to help, with relaxing, mellowing green tea! (I had to get a pitch in there somewhere, right?)

Of course, green tea, even with its theanine, can't do the job alone. But it's a start, and a good, old-fashioned tea break is a good way to take a step back, relax, and recharge.

—Mellow Monk

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