Conscious Cat Sunday

Conscious Cat Sunday: Summer memories

Buckley's Story: Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher by Ingrid King

Then followed that beautiful season – summer. Filled was the air with a dreamy and
magical light; and the landscape lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood.
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

How is it possible that it’s Labor Day weekend and summer is officially coming to an end? Even though we have warm and beautiful weather in my part of the world until well into October, there’s just something about Labor Day weekend that marks a passage. Temperatures may still be summery, but the quality of the light, and the feel of the air, are starting to subtly change and take on a hint of fall.Continue Reading

Conscious Cat Sunday: Get happy

Get Happy

How many of you remember the theme song to The Partridge Family TV show? “Hello world, here’s a song that we’re singing. Come on, get happy!” And how many of you had a crush on David Cassidy?

But I digress. This post is about getting happy. Is there a formula for happiness?  Is there one sure-fire way to achieve everything we want in life?  Well, actually, there just might be.  And it’s as simple, or as complicated, as getting happy.  Simple, because we all have the power to do it.  Complicated, because our conditioning tells us it’s not that easy.

Everything around us is energy, including our thoughts. If we focus our thoughts on things that make us happy, our energy shifts to a better place, and we tend to attract more happiness.   But how do we do this in a world that seems to be so full of unhappy things?

We do it by making a conscious decision that we want to be happy.  We have the power to choose our thoughts – so why not choose thoughs that make us feel good?  We can make these conscious choices in every single moment – by choosing to focus on what is working in our lives rather than complaining about what isn’t, by choosing books and television programs that make us feel good rather than depressed or upset, by choosing to be with people who uplift us rather than drag us down into negativity.

Once we focus predominantly on that which makes us feel good, we’ll find that the world around us changes.  Life flows more easily.   We attract people and situations into our reality that are pleasant rather than frustrating.   Our lives work better.  We get happy.

And if you need a little help with feeling good, you don’t have to look any further than to your cats.  They’re masters at making themselves feel good.

What will you to today to get happy?

Conscious Cat Sunday: Sundays are for reading

Amber reading Buckley's Story

Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible
and wisest of counsellors, and the most patient of teachers. – Charles W. Eliot

Reading is as essential as breathing to me.

I’ve been an avid reader as far back as I can remember. My parents started reading to me as a very young child, and I surprised them by reading on my own long before it was taught in school. At first, they thought I was faking it and that I was only repeating the words from memory.

During all the changes I’ve gone through in my life, good and not so good, books have always been there to provide entertainment,inspiration, escape, advice and so much more.

It should come as no surprise that I particularly enjoy books about cats as well as other animals, and I offer a wide selection of my favorites on my Reading List.

My “to be read” pile is usually out of control, and I like it that way. In fact, I get a little twitchy when the pile gets too low. Between the books I see reviewed on some of my favorite book blogs, the books I find browsing at my hometown Barnes and Noble store, and the books publicists and authors send me for review, I don’t think I have to worry about running out of reading material anytime soon.

I usually read at least two or three books at the same time. Currently, I’m reading South of Broad by Pat Conroy, The Nine Emotional Lives of Cats by Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson, and a German women’s magazine (a way for me to try and keep up with my native language).

What are you currently reading?

Conscious Cat Sunday: Navigating turbulent times

Navigating Turbulent Times

Turbulence is life force. It is opportunity.
Let’s love turbulence and use it for change. – Ramsey Clark 

We live in challenging times.  The economy, the stock market, political battles – everywhere you look, there’s turmoil. Mercury is currently in retrograde, and if you believe in astrology, it means that during this period, things can go a little crazy, and our reactions to the ever-changing situations can cause confusion and frustration.

We can’t control the planets, or what is happening in the world, whether it’s the world at large, or our own small piece of it. But we can choose how we react to what’s happening around us, and we can control what we focus our thoughts on.

Here are some simple steps that can help make navigating these turbulent times a little easier:

–  Make a conscious decision each day to look for things that make you feel good.  Look for things to appreciate.  Look for the positive aspects in the people you interact with.  By focusing on what’s good in your world, you’ll allow less of what’s not so good into your energy field.

–  Go on a news diet.  At the very least, stop watching the news first thing in the morning, and last thing before you go to bed at night.  What you see first thing in the morning will stay in your consciousness throughout the day.  What you see just before you go to sleep will make its way into your dreams and spoil a good night’s rest for you.  Consider foregoing the news altogether.  If you feel you must be informed, be judicious about where you get your news.  There are ways to get the news without the hype.

Practice simple acts of kindness.  This is a fun and easy way to take the focus off yourself and any fear and worry you might experience.  Yield to the car in front of you trying to merge into your lane.  Smile at the harried clerk at the store.  Take an unexpected small gift to someone in your office.  Trying to make someone else feel better feels good. You’ll be surprised how much these simple little acts can shift your consciousness to a better place.

Spend time with your cat!  Spending time with cats is one of the best ways I know to instantly shift your vibration from negative to positive.  It’s impossible to be fearful and worried when you watch a kitten play or when you have a purring cat in your lap.

Find serenity in the middle of chaos. Breathe, take a walk in the fresh air, unplug, read; any or all of these will help you feel calmer. Or follow Merlin’s lead in the photo above: find a bench in a park or in your backyard, and enjoy the calming beauty of nature.

What are you doing to help you navigate these turbulent times?

Conscious Cat Sunday: Gratitude

Gratitude

 We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude. – Cynthia Ozick

Gratitude makes you happy. Research by Dr. Robert Emmons of the University of California at Davis into the psychology of gratitude has shown that people who practice gratitude are 25% happier.  They are more optimistic about the future and feel better about their lives.

The energy of gratitude is a powerful force.  It can shift your mood and your thoughts from a place of scarcity to a place of abundance and joy. Gratitude is about being in the present moment, and appreciating what’s around you. Gratitude is about choice: you have the power to choose how you view any given situation in your life.

Gratitude is also a practice. Practicing gratitude is a great way to start and end each day.  Think about five things you’re grateful for before you get out of bed each morning, and again before you go to sleep each night.  Do this for a few days and you will notice how the shift in your energy will transform your life.

My five for today are:

1. Allegra

2. Ruby

3. A lovely breeze coming in through the open window.

4. That first cup of fresh brewed coffee in the morning.

5. Good health – my own, as well as Allegra’s and Ruby’s.

What five things are you grateful for today?

You may also enjoy reading:

Conscious Cat Sunday: Creating Balance

Five habits to expand your thinking

Conscious Cat Sunday: Are you addicted to technology?

Are You Addicted to Technology

Technology makes it possible for people to gain control over everything,
except over technology. – John Tudor

As a professional blogger and writer, I spend much of my day online. I also have a BlackBerry that keeps me connected to e-mail and my blog when I’m not at my computer. I love the world of e-mail, blogs, social media and other forms of online communication and the opportunities it presents. I especially love how it has changed how we meet people and form friendships in ways we never could have imagined even ten years ago.

Technology has allowed me to make contact with people I never could have met in real life.  Whether it’s the author I’ve admired for decades, or the veterinarian whose articles I’ve only read in journals before, or the many fellow cat people who share my love for these incredibly fascinating and wonderful creatures – I treasure all of these relationships.  Some of them have turned into real-life friendships.

But there is a downside to all this 24/7 connectedness. As with all good things, there can be too much of it. Researchers from the University of Glasgow found that half of the participants in a study reported checking their email once an hour, while some individuals check up to 30 to 40 times an hour. An AOL study revealed that 59 percent of PDA users check every single time an email arrives and 83 percent check email every day on vacation. (Source: WebMD.com)

Does this sound like the behavior of an addict to you? That’s because it is. All this technology creates compulsive behavior by tapping into the brain’s reward circuit and operant conditioning: the association of stimulus and reward. Every time you hit “check mail” on your e-mail or smartphone, you get a little dopamine hit. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters that makes you feel good. Receiving that e-mail, text, or Facebook comment sends a message to your brain that says “Yay! Somebody loves me!” Your brain comes to associate this feeling with the “you’ve got mail” or text message sound on your device, and releases a squirt of dopamine each time it hears the signal.

As if this weren’t bad enough, after you check that e-mail or that Facebook comment, your dopamine levels dip below normal, so you need another hit just to get your levels back to normal. If you’ve ever sat at your computer and hit  the “get new mail” button over and over and wondered why on earth you’re doing that, now you know.

The constant connection to technology can take a toll on our bodies and our mental state, and it  probably behooves us to occasionally unplug, even if it’s only for a few hours. Here are some ways to break the technology addiction, at least temporarily:

  • Unplug for for short periods of time if disconnecting for an entire day seems impossible. You life won’t implode. As with any addiction, there can be a period of anxiety when you first try it.
  • Leave your cell phone at home one day a week. Weekends are good for this. For some people, this will have the same effect as a two-week vacation; the psychological benefits can be that dramatic. If you feel must have your cell phone with you because of safety concerns, keep it turned off.
  • Set boundaries. Don’t check e-mail as soon as you get out of bed. Stop checking e-mail after a certain time in the evening. Set yourself  a time limit when you go on social media sites.
  • Don’t let technology interfere with real, face-to-face contact. There’s nothing more irritating to me than having lunch with someone who keeps a constant eye on her smartphone.

I’ll admit, I find it very difficult to unplug, and I know I need to work at doing it more frequently. Thankfully, Allegra and Ruby are good at reminding me to step away from the computer. Usually, their reminders involve a walk across the keyboard, or a chase around the monitor. I’m going to heed their advice today and try and unplug for a few hours.

How about you? Are you addicted to technology? Do your cats remind you to unplug?

You may also enjoy reading:

Conscious Cat Sunday: Creating balance

Conscious Cat Sunday: Make time for contemplation

 

Conscious Cat Sunday: The heat is on

 cat_summer_fun

If you saw a heat wave, would you wave back? – Steven Wright

Much of the United States has been sweltering in a heat wave for the past few days, with temperatures and heat indices into the triple digits. I hope you and your kitties are keeping cool in the shade or under an umbrella, like Ruby in the photo above.

I come down squarely in the “some like it hot” category, but the last couple of days have been a bit much even for me. Allegra and Ruby are air conditoned kitties, so their only complaint has been that open windows are only happening for a few minutes at a time to give them a chance to sniff some fresh air, something they both enjoy. One thing they absolutely won’t allow me is to close any of the blinds to block out the sun and conserve some energy. My two little sun worshippers are still seeking out the sun puddles in the house. Like mother, like daughters!

Please keep your pets safe in this relentless heat.How are you and your cats coping?

Conscious Cat Sunday: make time for play

Make Time for Play

Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable.
Without it, life just doesn’t taste good. –  Lucia Capocchione

Cats need to play to thrive. This is especially important for indoor cats. Playing allows them to indulge their natural instinct to hunt. Feline play mimics stalking and chasing prey in the wild, and toys that will encourage this are the best kinds of toys.

Play is important for humans, too. The National Institute of Play (who knew there was such a thing!) believes that play can dramatically transform our personal health, our relationships, the education we provide our children and the capacity of our corporations to innovate.  Play is a vital ingredient for a happy life.

What better way to get play into your life than playing with your cat? Even just one 15 minute play session a day will keep your cat happy and healthy. Interactive toys are a great way for both of you to get in on the fun. Toys such as the Da Bird feather teaser or any number of fishing pole type toys can provide hours of fun for you and for kitty. Playing with your cat is not only fun, it also increases the bond between the two of you.

Odin doesn’t have to be told that he should be playing more – the only decision he has to make is which toy to pick out of the basket.

Do you make time for play – for yourself, and your cat? What is your cat’s favorite game?

You may also enjoy reading:

Keeping your single cat happy

Safe toys for your cat

How to keep your indoor cat happy

Conscious Cat Sunday: Creating balance

Creating Balance

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance,
order, rhythm and harmony. – Thomas Merton

Do you struggle to find balance in your life?  Many of us lead lives that are anything but balanced. In fact, at times, we often feel like a cat trying to balance on a tree branch, ready to tumble off at any moment. Some of us will manage to right ourselves, others will try to balance by flailing about, and the rest of us will fall off and try to get back on again. But eventually, no matter how hard we try, we’ll all fall off if we don’t create balance in our lives.

Balance is an essential ingredient for a happy life. When your life is in balance, your body, mind and spirit are in harmony. Everything just feels right.

But how do you achieve that balance in these hectic times we live in?

The definition of balance will vary from person to person, but the following tips can help create balance in anyone’s life:

  • Make time for yourself. You can’t be there for everyone else unless you take care of yourself.
  • Exercise regularly and eat healthy. This goes right along with taking care of yourself.
  • Integrate your passion with your work. Most of us spend up to a third of our lives at work. Doing work you’re passionate about rather than work that’s “just a job” will go a long way toward creating balance in your life. If you haven’t found a way yet to combine the two, leave your work at the office. Nobody ever looks back on their life and wishes they had spent more time at the office!
  • Spend time with family and friends.
  • Live within your means. Stress over finances is one of the biggest obstacles to creating balance in your life.
  • Don’t multi-task. You may think you’re getting more done that way, but you’re really not. By putting your full focus and energy on one task at a time, you will work more efficiently and you won’t feel like you’re just spinning your wheels.
  • Spend time with your cats! Spending time with cats is one of the best ways I know to come back into balance instantly.

What one thing will you do this week to create more balance in your life?

Conscious Cat Sunday: make time for contemplation

contemplation

Could the purr be anything but contemplative? – Irving Townsend

It’s hard to find time for quiet contemplation in these busy lives we lead, but without making time for it, we end up stressed, depressed and anxious. Cats are masters not just at purring, but also at quiet contemplation, as Amber demonstrates in the photo above. We’d be wise to take our cue from them.

Contemplation can take many forms: it can be something as structured as a meditation practice, or something as simple as taking a walk in the park. For me, even watching my sleeping cats can be a contemplative experience.

Most people use the excuse that they’re too busy to make time for just being quiet. I think you can’t afford not to make the time, or your mental and physical health will suffer. And it’s really not that hard to carve out a little extra time each day. If you’re a planner, you may need to schedule quiet time into your day, just like you schedule any other activities.

To help you along, here are some tips on how to create extra time for quiet contemplation and solitude. Whether it’s an hour, or even just ten minutes, I promise you, you will find that your life will improve. Solitude is not the same as spending time alone watching tv, surfing the internet, or reading. There’s nothing wrong with any of these activities, but they won’t result in the quiet space you need for contemplation and reflection.

  • Cut back on your TV time. Americans spend an average of seven hours a day watching tv – how hard could it be to cut back on what, let’s face it, is often wasted time? Stick to watching only shows that you truly enjoy, don’t just sit in front of the TV because it’s there.
  • Get up a little earlier. Spending quiet time first thing in the morning (after you feed the cats, of course!) assures that it won’t fall by the wayside as you get busy later on.
  • Cut back on your e-mail and internet activities. (Just don’t cut back on reading The Conscious Cat!)
  • Plan your errands ahead of time. By organizing your route and sequence of errands, and grouping them together, you can save time, and, as a nice additional benefit, gas money.
  • Minimize housework. Relax your standards a little bit if you can. Do some basic cleaning once a week, and a more thorough cleaning once a month.

Do you make time for contemplation? How do you do it? If not, why not?

Conscious Cat Sunday: a different point of view

IMG_4012

Being willing to change allows you to move from a point of view
to a viewing point — a higher, more expansive place, from
which you can see both sides. – Thomas Crum

Sometimes, we get so mired in our day to day lives that we can’t see the forest for the trees. We find ourselves stuck in our routine, entrenched in our point of view of things, and unable to move forward.

While I’m not suggesting that you climb up on top of your dining room cabinet like Allegra in the picture above, what better way to change your view than to see life through the eyes of your cats? In their lives, every little thing is a cause for delight, whether it’s a speck of dust on a sunlit floor, a special treat in the food bowl, or a nap in the sun.

Spend some time this holiday weekend and look at life from your cat’s point of view. What are you seeing?