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These Zen Dogs Will Help You Reach a State of Enlightenment

Find your zen with help from Alex Cearns' striking photos of tranquil pups paired with insightful quotes from meditative figures.

Phillip Mlynar  |  Dec 6th 2016

Do you find yourself searching for some calm respite among the stress and bustle of the holiday season? Well, Alex Cearns’ book Zen Dogs might be your guide to achieving a state of serenity now.

The portraits of dogs looking like they’ve achieved tranquil bliss pair with quotes from meditative figures such as Gandhi and Buddha, acting as a poignant reminder to take time each day to simply relax.

Here’s what you need to know about achieving a zen dog state of mind.

The genesis

Back in June of last year, the Australian-based snapper Alex Cearns uploaded 30 pictures of zen dogs to the internet. The images of dogs with eyes closed and relaxed smiles on their faces quickly went viral and inspired Alex to expand the project. The Zen Dogs book ended up featuring 80 canines.

It’s all thanks to Suzi

The very first zen dog was Suzi, a Chinese Shar-Pei. Alex managed to capture a photo of her with closed eyes and a charming smile on her face. Writing about the moment in the book’s introduction, she recalls how Suzi’s “contented smile suggested calm, euphoric bliss.”

The photo of Suzi also inspired the name of the series and book, Zen Dogs.

So how does the book work?

According to Zen Dogs, research has proved that having a canine in your daily life can help with lowering blood pressure and reducing hormones that cause stress, and can even boost those feel-good chemicals that your brain enjoys so much. The book is said to act as a reminder of the joys of canine companionship.

Some of the zen dogs are rescues

Alex says that many of the pooches featured in Zen Dogs “come from a difficult background.” She adds that she’s a passionate advocate for animal welfare issues herself, and claims two rescues in her life, Pip and Pixel. The former was found wandering around the streets in a severely undernourished state, while the latter was scooped up from a farm sanctuary after she’d been surrendered there.

Life advice for you and your dog

So what sort of calming quotes can you expect to find sagely scattered throughout Zen Dogs? Well, choice picks include this nugget from the philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero:

“The pursuit, even of the best things, ought to be calm and tranquil.”

Try telling that to a canine scooting after their favorite fetch toy, right?

Zen Dogs is published by HarperOne. Check out more of Alex Cearns’s photography at Facebook and Instagram.