Did you know that cats were once worshipped as gods in ancient Egypt? Ask any cat (or cat owner) and they will tell you they still behave as though they have never forgotten.
Today cats are not so much revered but perhaps more than ever, can teach us pearls of wisdom about being and living.
I wrote an article recently in memory and in honour of my Yoga studio’s resident cat, Benson. He would often meet us on the studio driveway and have a ‘chat’ telling us about his day, or his week. Honestly, I’m not sure what he was telling us but it was always with great enthusiasm so I couldn’t help but be engaged in his story. Sometimes he’d roll over onto his side and allow us to pat him and then he would obligingly escort us to the studio door.
Occasionally Benson would join us for class walking around the room checking each person’s poses, perfecting Cat Cow, and of course Savasana (relaxation). This week I thought I’d lighten things up and today’s post is a reminder that we can often learn the most valuable lessons from the most unexpected people (or animals) at the most unexpected times.
All we need is to be open-minded, have a level of awareness and the ability to observe without judgement. Too much to ask?
Here are some learnings and lessons our feline friends can teach us.
“I have lived with several Zen masters – all of them cats.”– ECKHART TOLLE
You only need to watch their graceful yoga-like poses, how they lengthen their bodies, or drop down into the perfect ‘child pose’, to know they are masters of their craft. In this sense perhaps what our feline friends do best, is teach us integrity as they completely embody their practice.
Self-love and self-care. When we make ourselves a priority and focus on our holistic health, we not only reap the benefits into old age, but we get to see the world as full of opportunities and through a more positive lens. The practice of yoga, meditation, or just taking deliberately taking time out every day to be silent, without distractions, has widespread physical, emotional, and psychological benefits that ripple across every area of our life.
Cats certainly love humans but they love themselves first. Through their actions (not words) they teach us to clean and groom ourselves often, get plenty of sleep, eat small nutritious meals throughout the day, move our bodies often, and follow our dreams – pursuing the things that interest us. Oh, and express gratitude by bringing ‘gifts’ to those they love.
Accepting what is. Cats (and yoga) teaches us to observe and let go. We are reminded that we do not need to (and can’t), control everything that happens in life. We are encouraged to drop all judgement, of others and ourselves and we are responsible for our own practice, our attitudes, and our reactions.
Cats are sometimes described as indifferent or arrogant but in fact, they have no judgement and teach us how to love someone just as they are. They are independent creatures needing nothing from us. They have also mastered the art of being in the moment and live permanently in the space of ‘now’.
Be independent. I saw a sign once that said “If your cat could text you… they wouldn’t.” I suspect that if we asked a cat what its thoughts were on independence the response would be something like this.
I rely on you for food and water because I am in your house BUT understand that I mostly rely on myself. I am in charge of my self-care, personal hygiene, moods, emotions, and needs and I attend to them all. I get me through every day and I am responsible for my own happiness. I love companionship but I also need quiet time and ‘stillness’ for me to thrive.
Keep going. Life will always present us with challenges, obstacles, and learning opportunities. When we believe we have failed at something or don’t complete something to perfection, we can often over analyse. We might even embellish the event by telling ourselves stories such as, ‘I can’t do it‘ or ‘I’m not good enough‘ or ‘I’m an idiot’.
Cats have an innate ability to land on their feet but on the rare occasion they miss their landing pad, they simply shake it off and keep going. A cat never blames someone, or something else, nor do they expend the energy to consider something a failure.
Perhaps the lesson here is to focus on being back on our feet after the fall, not the fall itself.
There are learnings everywhere, every day, throughout life. Perhaps cats remind us that even though it sometimes feels like we have lost control, or didn’t have it to start with, there are always wonderful things that we ARE 100% in control of.
Dalya xx 💙