I learned some of the most valuable lessons about how to be present to myself and to others from my cat. We adopted our first cat, Buddy, about 3 years ago. I wasn’t sure that I would like having a cat, as I always considered myself a dog person. But a year after our dog of 16 years passed away, our middle daughter, who has always been the cat person in the family, persuaded us to adopt a cat.
When we adopted Buddy, I quickly learned how wrong I was in thinking that I would not like having a cat. I started to appreciate his Zen-like ability to be in the present moment. He was not worried about what was going to happen in the next hour or the next month. He was simply present in a calm, relaxed, and reassuring way. It was as if he had nowhere else to be, no better thing to be doing, but to be right where he was.
When anyone form our family is sick or upset, he instinctively comes and keeps us company. I remember being upset about a difficult situation I was in one day when he came to sit on my lap, purring and calm. It was as if he was trying to say, “Don’t worry. Stay calm and you will figure it out. I believe in you. You just have to be present, like me.” Other times when I am sick or having a bad dream, he comes to keep me company, sleeping next to me as if he is saying, “I see you are not feeling well. I am here with you.” Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and find him curled up next to me, giving me the gift of his presence and calmness. He knows how to be present in the moment and how to help others do just that.
Here are some of the lessons I learned from my cat:
Be present to yourself. Sit down and relax.
Stay calm and collected. Don’t lose your head worrying. Stay focused on the present moment and you will feel better.
If you are present to yourself first, you can then be present to others. All you have to do is show up and curl up next to them.
Notice when someone is not feeling well physically or emotionally. Go to them. Your presence may just be exactly what they need.
To be present to others, you don’t have to talk, just listen. Don’t judge what the person says or thinks. Don’t give advice, just be there. They will figure it out, you can trust them to do that.
Being present is hard work. Take care of yourself. Take lots of naps, if necessary.
What lessons have you learned from the animals in your life? How have those lessons changed the way you relate to yourself and others?