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  • Andrew Lewis

What can we learn from cats?

It is often said that there is something zen-like about cats. What does this mean? How can cats teach us something about our meditation practice?

Here is one way:

Cats are not like dogs. They do not often seek our attention, make a fuss over us, crave to love us and be loved back.

Often if we crowd them with love and tactile attention, they will beat a hasty retreat seeming to prefer solitude. This can often frustrate young children who want to adore them and shower them with attention. Cats seem self-contained, almost aloof. They are likely to run away from the attention.

We soon learn that if we want to spend quality time with a cat, we have to wait for the cat to choose, we have to give it space. We have to stop trying, seeking, imposing, and just let things be. Our feline friend will come in his or her own time and on his or her terms.

Meditation is like this. If we are trying too hard to achieve something, get some kind of special experience, we will only drive it away. We need to drop the trying, get out of our own way and let things develop in a natural flow.

Happiness is like this too. When we stop searching for and seeking happiness, it arrives in delightful ways. Perhaps it has always been there, just waiting for us to give it space.

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This is so true. My young children chase the cats all day and they run and run. However, in the still of night having a bedtime story the cats will jump up on the bed and join us. They like to choose when they come to us and the children are still struggling to accept this. Searching for happiness is exhausting and frustrating and often disappointing but I have learnt that in the moment we can find so much happiness just be being still and present enough to feel it.

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