Meditation and cats

Updated 15. Dec 2021

An encounter with a cat or a feeling can lead to both delightful experiences and discomfort.

Grows it into a tiger, or settles for a nap?

What are you feeling at the moment? Is it nice? Unpleasant? Have you ever tried just sitting with a feeling, no matter what? Like a cat that's walking towards you, but you're not going to pet it or chase it away? Have you ever tried to see what happens, whether it grows into a tiger or settles down for a nap? How long will it take before it moves on? What are you left with? A scratch on the leg? Or just some cat hair on your shirt? 

The cat always walks away

Neither of these are so awful when the cat finally walks away, right? Because it always does. And then it comes back. And it might have been uncomfortable if it became a tiger and scratched you. However, it would have become even more wild if you had tried to chase it away or ran away yourself. And yes, it might have been nice to scratch and pet the soft fur, but you'd probably be sad when it took off again. What? It didn’t like you? Well, sure it did, but then something new caught its attention, which had nothing to do with you, and it was gone.

There is a better way

And yes, you guessed it, I'm talking more about feelings than about cats. It’s much easier to be around feelings if you just sit there with the feelings when they come. Don’t chase them away or grab them close to you. Don’t run away or argue with them. The same goes for cats, as well. But it's not that easy. Because we are used to pulling them by the tail to keep them with us or kicking them away to keep them at bay. I mean the cats, not the feelings. Well, that goes for feelings too, I guess. 

However, there is a better way. A way that allows you to kindly say "Hi. There you are. Here I am." And then you can just sit there and let the feeling be there too. Because whether you're chasing it off or holding on to it, it’s going to disappear after a while.

And once you've been sitting like that a few times, just observing, you know that the time you spend together, the feeling and you, the cat and you, is so much more relaxed and safe if you just accept things the way they are. 

It takes courage and discipline to wait

However, it can be difficult, especially if the feeling comes leaping at you with its claws outstretched. In that sort of situation, it's nice to have had some practise. And that’s meditation, the practise of sitting still and accepting these visitors calling on you. It requires both courage and discipline. However, on the other hand, you don’t have to worry about what to do the next time they come up on your shoulder and remain there until it feels like you are caring for an entire animal shelter. You can simply breathe deeply and know that you have become very good at waiting until they get bored. You might actually begin to appreciate these visits, even from the heavy and creepy cats, too.

Because once you've been sitting with them, you realise that they often turn into playful little kittens that are not so creepy, even if they do scratch you a bit.