Way of the Cat: Nap, Do Nothing and Stretch Your Way to a Blissful Life
1 journaler for this copy...
The concept of basing one's mental and physical well-being on the behavior of cats isn't new to me, but I found some very thoughtful passages when I thumbed through the book, and I enjoyed it very much.
The anecdotes about the author's cats are charming, and her suggestions for becoming a domestic "Jane Goodall" - that is, to be aware and mindful of what your cats are up to, watching how they interact, etc. - make a lot of sense.
From the "observe" advice, she moves on to suggesting that we try to experience a cat's-eye view of life, both as a way to understand our pets (and perhaps improve their environment) and as a form of meditation. "When you walk, can you hear your feet click on the ground? Can you walk without being heard?... No judgment here, just awareness. Different styles of walking are suitable for different purposes. When the cats track a butterfly or bee, their walk is different from when they are just flowing towards another good spot to be."
She compares cat-stretches to low-impact human exercise, and especially recommends a form of the "Salute to the Sun" from yoga as a way to fully stretch one's own body. [I do find it more appealing to think of exercising as "acting like a cat"!]
At one point she mentions that she spent some time in the SCA, the Society for Creative Anachronism, and was a pretty good fighter at that time. As I'd participated in a few SCA events myself - though not as a fighter - I was pleased to find another connection, and her way of contrasting a totally-focused fighter with a cat on the hunt tickled me.
Each chapter of the book includes some suggested exercises, like "Become Invisible" ("practice becoming invisible in a crowd, and then practice becoming visible when you really want attention". Cats, obviously, are the examples here, and it's certainly true that some cats can seem to disappear even in the middle of a bare floor!
"Sleeping is an art," says the author farther on, and adds "A friend made p the Japanese art of ikeneko, referring to ikebana, flower-arranging. It is the art of arranging sleeping cats." Hee! But while I have had cats who could be "arranged" while sleeping, my current ones are too jumpy for that.
Another bit of advice from the author: "Dogma is rarely useful. It is an artifact, a fake barrier that we build, and that we then tell ourselves is insurmountable. It isn't insurmountable. It isn't really even there. Don't create rules where rules are not necessary."
And then there are her suggestions about dealing with old age - in cats as well as in ourselves. Her advice to let ill, aging cats take their own time rather than rushing to have them put to sleep - well, I do think that sometimes it's tempting to rush things, but there are cases where the animals are clearly not enjoying life anymore, so one has to make tough decisions there. But she adds a suggestion for a "Saying I'm Sorry" ritual, to use for "every animal whom you feel you failed in any way," something that really resonated with me, as I do have regrets, from waiting too long to summon the vet to ending things too soon...
Interesting, thought-provoking book!
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