Kitty Meditation

Yesterday morning, I got out of bed as my alarm went off. I grabbed my phone from the dresser and turned off the relaxed reminder to awaken. I propped up some pillows in bed near the wall and prepared to sit for meditation. As soon as I settled myself in the sattva posture with my back straight, having just clicked another timer on my phone to count off 15 minutes, I heard a meow from behind me, around the corner.

Rei Ray, the gregarious, love-needy cat was excited to see me awake and wanted my attention. I almost sighed, as I knew what would happen next (she’s done this before): she would jump up on the bed, try to snuggle me, and if I didn’t respond, she’d meow at me or try to wake my partner still sleeping on the other side of the bed. For half a second, I pondered gently setting her down on the floor, hoping she’d get the message, but then I realized that my whole meditation practice is about wise and compassionate insight. Where’s the compassion in ignoring and pushing away such a being in need of connection with its family? How is that embodying the paramitas? Rei cannot understand any explanations that I’ll pay attention to her in a few minutes. She needs attention now. Beyond that, it’s not like when she interrupts my sleep or somehow otherwise reaches out in a way that impacts activities when I cannot pay attention to her.

IMG_20170930_121802-COLLAGE

She may not look it, but this Katze can be quite the handful.

I decided that I should sit there in my meditation stance and pet Rei as much as she needed and at the same time keep her from waking my partner. So, I pulled her into my lap, and noticed my breathing as well as the feeling of her fur against my hand. I tried some lojong — breathing in the feelings of anxiety, lack, or whatever the kitty sensation may be that make her so driven for attention at times, breathing out peace, love, connection, and security. I looked into her eyes as she gazed up at me and tried to mentally extend a sense of calm to those inquisitive eyes.

The “kitty meditation” took up the whole 15 minutes, and although I didn’t get as solidly settled into the groove of a shamatha meditation, there was a certain just-sitting with the arising nature of a sentient being in need, and I feel there was more wisdom to be gained from responding to that patiently and open-heartedly than ever could be gained through strongly administering boundaries and standard practices.


May this provide you the insight on how to be flexible enough to be wise and compassionate when the moment calls for it.

Gassho!

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4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. 5amt3n
    Jun 16, 2018 @ 01:05:56

    I love this! It brings back fond memories of Amber, my kitty who passed away two years ago. I smile as I remember her always, and I do mean always, wanting to settle down (more or less) in front of or on me every single time I meditated. If I ignored her she would bouf (push her head against my arm or hand) me until I gave her a gentle pat. What I started to do was when it happened to shift my focus of attention from my breath to her. I used to call it kitty meditation. I would shift my focus to the sense door of touch as I patted her, bringing my full awareness to the feel of her fur, and/or to hearing as she purred away. I would be open to all sound, which often included her purrs. She also would often wander around the people meditating in a meditation group that I led in my home. She didn’t engage with anyone, just wander. For all of us, I think that she kind of became a fixture. I really think that she sensed and liked whatever it was in the atmosphere when meditation was occurring. I found that for a very long time after she passed away, it felt weird, and to be honest, somehow empty sitting on the cushion alone. The two of us had meditated together, pretty much daily, for years. By the way, I love that you included photos of your kitty. She is so beautiful! Also, I realize that I was not meditating on my bed with Amber, so there was no partner to waken. Happy meditating!

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    • zeuslyone
      Jun 18, 2018 @ 18:46:38

      I had a feeling that at least one of my readers would have some identification with this story/experience. I find it a bit funny because we have two other cats, and they don’t notice/care when I’m meditating, but sometimes, Rei, the attention seeker, does, and she seems to think that it’s time to get up close and stare at me. 🙂
      Your approach is basically the same that I’ve done, trying to bring a full vipassana-style awareness to the sense of touching her fur, feeling her presence, and hearing her purr. I try to sense her experience of sitting there with me — connecting to the lojong aspect.
      You and your meditation group was very lucky to have Amber. I’m sorry to hear of the hole it left when she passed.
      Thanks for the compliment regarding Rei’s appearance. Rei is quite the striking kitty with a line down her face separating a light and a dark tabby coloring. She’s quite the unique cat in general. I got her a couple years back when a friend couldn’t care her for any longer (EDIT: I wrote a post about it at the time. Took a minute just now to go find it: Here.). She’s been a lucky gift in my life, just like your kitty.
      Thank you again for reaching out across the electronic void to connect and share. I have great gratitude for your comments and insights. *bow*

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  2. Malcolm Hunt
    Aug 10, 2018 @ 22:08:59

    I enjoyed this post! I cared for a cat at the temple and trained her to bow at the Buddha and meditate (well, she sat on my lap with crossed front paws). I think cats sense the peace and warmth that come from meditation.

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    • zeuslyone
      Aug 10, 2018 @ 22:14:47

      I think you’re on to something there, Malcolm. They definitely seem drawn to participate in the poised calm. I’m trying to imagine you sitting with ar-cat (had to pun that one! 🙂 at the temple. We just took in another cat, and he’s been pushing his way onto my lap while meditating, so now it’s actually 2 cats who want to join in, rather than just the first.

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