Ever since my dear friend and meditation teacher Rob died, I have been more aware of little moments I can capture during the course of a typical day which can also serve as brief meditation sessions. One thing I have gotten into the habit of lately is pausing before I stretch and get out of bed, allowing myself to enjoy a moment of stillness. I spend a couple of minutes observing my breathing, how energy flows through me, and how the room feels, looks and sounds. It’s a welcome change from the rushed manner in which I used to hit the ground running as soon as I woke up.
Kazu and Tenshi, my dogs trapped in cats’ bodies
My rescue kitty and nap buddy Shima
The most fulfilling and endearing moments I have allowed myself to indulge in are the ones I spend with my cats. Two of my cats are very doglike and love everyone, while the third cat is extremely attached to me. All three are sweet and tend to demand a lot of my attention when I am home, but I often keep my interaction with them to a minimum because I am in the midst of a pile of work and usually typing or running around the house doing chores. Like faithful dogs, my cats will often follow me from room to room, looking up at me expectantly, purring away and doling out unconditional love.
I have made a concerted effort lately to greet my cats with pets and kisses in the morning while they are sprawled out on my bed. When I come home, I will often lie on the floor, bed, or sofa with them, taking a few moments to just be with them. My shy rescue cat, Shima, will frequently lie on my chest while I pet her, and if we are both very relaxed, we will take a nap together in this position. Every once in a while, a feeling of guilt will wash over me, even though I know I will most likely finish all the items on my to-do list for the day. But this feeling passes quickly, and I remember how important the bonding process with pets is. Even as I write this I have all three cats in the living room with me, with my boy lying alongside my left leg.
My blue male Burmese, Tenshi, is very much a dude and exhibits alpha type behavior with the other two (female) cats. But he also loves to be hugged and squeezed, will push his face into my hands and actually likes having his muzzle grabbed and scratched and his belly softly rubbed while he is on his back. He is also a lap kitty and will often snuggle with me while I write away. My female European Burmese, Kazu, will sometimes take up residence on my lap, and at other times, will rest her head on her favorite pillow just like a human would, and will watch me work. Kazu is also the cat who plays fetch, greets me at the door most faithfully, and purrs if I merely look at her. Basically, my cats make it very easy for me to steal moments of presence and joy with them. I just wasn’t paying enough attention to their signals before Rob died.
If you have pets and you find yourself ignoring them because of your workload, do yourself and them a favor by pausing each day to bond with them. I am not talking about a couple of quick pets, I am referring to a true connection in which your animal senses that you are fully interacting and remaining in the moment. There have been particularly hectic times in which I became so incredibly busy that my cats got nothing more than a perfunctory tickle under the chin or an ear scratch, but considering how highly socialized two of them are and how needy my rescue cat is, I definitely neglected them somewhat during those times. It doesn’t seem fair to them, especially considering the fact that they greet me at the door, hang out with me in whatever room I am in, and sleep by my side at night. Who knows? Maybe if I had a daily nap with Shima atop my chest, all my stress would easily melt away.