Five Things I Learned From My Cat

Settling into my new funky apartment took a long time.  My emotionally challenged cat appeared to be settling in better that me and I wondered how she seemed to know how to relax in our new home.  I began to watch her, taking notice of her routines.  I was writing a book at the time.  Exploring human emotion formed part of this work, initiating an understanding of ‘creature consciousness.’  In our mechanized, computerized world, it’s easy to forget ‘creature consciousness.’ 
Living energy runs in cycles, organic and sometimes unpredictable, naturally seeking to balance itself with its expression.  I began to learn from my cat, as ‘animal guide,’ a ‘teacher’ of what it is to be a ‘feeling’ human.  I had been too long a ‘thinking’ human, a ‘doing’ human, needing to balance and prevent the regular burnouts stunting my life.  I learned five ‘creature comforts’ from my animal teacher.
Find Sunny Places:  Cats are the first to find that sunny spot.  Putting my desk by the window in the sun made me want to sit there.  When our workspace and playspace are pleasant and warm, we are more likely to want to return and repeat the activity.  If it’s possible to consider the lighting and comfort of any place of activity, output is likely to increase.  When output, work or creativity increases as a result of a pleasant experience, we are likely to repeat it.  When output is forced through an act of will, the perceived strain is uncomfortable, less likely to be repeated.  Light invigorates the spirit, motivating the activities of the day whether working or resting in the sun.  When working indoors and spending more time with screens, sunlight becomes something we need to consciously think about to preserve its power in our lives.  Vitamin D deficiency is common, particularly in winter.  Creating a sunny workspace energises the body, initiating vitamin production, charging the body and positively boosting the mind and spirit.
Create Routines:  Cat lovers notice their pets often circulate to the same places each day at similar times.  They have a wet and dry weather routine.  Their routines provide structure and predictability to their day, which seems to settle them.  I noticed these routines being re-formed by my cat in our new home and began to follow her lead.  The benefits of human hands are that I can write mine down.  A written or mental list of activities associated with various parts of the day can help to structure a new life until it becomes natural and effortless.  Make sure pathways are clear toward these activities by including preparation time, for example I created a fortnightly routine of visiting a local fresh produce outlet, purchasing fabulous organic fruit and vegetables for my new increasingly plant based diet. I needed to make cooking easier.  Invoking this new routine into my fortnight made me excited about food and I couldn’t wait to cook nutritious meals for myself, as good as I had cooked for others.
Rest When Tired:  Human energy rises and falls in cycles determined by many organic and external factors. Creatures such as humans require differing amounts of rest depending on circumstances.  It is important to make routines flexible to allow for extra rest when needed.  Clear the pathway toward rest by creating appealing, perhaps sunny places for rest and relaxation; perhaps meditation if that’s your thing (I recommend it).  We are creatures, not machines, running on varied cycles and rhythms, within and without.
Stretch and Play:  Cats know how to stretch and play without procrastinating or complaining about it.  Keeping the body supple with a few stretches can make a huge difference to the quality of how it feels to ‘be in skin.’  These might be formal practices like Yoga and Pilates, or natural like a child or cat instinctively move.  Let the stiff spots determine the type of stretch.  Follow the body’s lead.  Exercise that feels like play is repeatable.  Stretching tight muscles is its own reward when the body really ‘feels’ the relief rather than just thinking of perfect placement or the next move.  Go gently.  Make love, not war, with your body as your stretch.  Make it joy. 
Smooch or Hide:  Cats like to feel good.  We affirm their feeling by stroking them and they smooch back. Happiness is obviously increased.   Happy creatures are more energised.  People are responsible for meeting many 'creature' needs, including the need for love.  Self-love can be expressed in a million ways from music, nutrition, self-care, taking a spa or a class, art, meditation, exercise or entertainment.  Connecting with the world via friends and family, exchanging a massage, meal or conversation.   Smooch with yourself by stretching on the floor.  Your body will love it.  Find what you love and talk about it, do it and think about it.   Smooching with the self includes knowing how to hide.  When we are irritable, tired or just grumpy, sometimes the best thing to do is turn the phone onto silent, unplug the wifi and just hide for a little while.

I would never have written this article facing a wall.  When things are getting too hard, overwhelming or just boring, it helps to review routines, activities and locations, constantly refining them as you learn more about yourself.  No one else can determine your routines, just as I cannot determine my cats.  We are each unique expressions of the universe, created by our souls for the purpose of the curious discovery of the soul, body, the world and the universe.  It’s all more interesting by a sunny window.  - Leanne Margaret © 2015


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