Human Health

Meditating with Your Cat

Guest post by Stacia D. Kelly, PhD, MHt

My husband thinks it makes for a funny picture whenever I sit down to meditate. In our house, I usually have a cat or two as I sit cross-legged on the couch in my lap or somewhere nearby purring happily and meditating right along with me. Of course, said husband also freely admitted a week or so back that our girl Bella laid right down on his chest while he was listening to a Nancy Georges hypnosis session – shame on him for not listening to one of mine! 😉

Bastien, our youngest rescue, is learning to be a great hypnosis assistant. He’ll either curl up in my lap or next to my clients during a hypnotherapy session to settle right down for the 40 minutes or so, purring the entire time. And while he irritates his sister felines, Bella and Bijoux, since he’s so young, he is such a momma’s boy that he tries to do whatever I’m doing. If that means meditating, he’s right there with me. And, thankfully, my clients love him.

I wish I knew what’s going thru their minds when they curl up with me, but I know the soft purr and warm body only help to enhance my focus. Somehow, they just know the right spot and the right level to help you achieve that perfect moment of Zen.

Mine never interrupt; none of them ever have.

calmness? Sagesse, an angel kitty now, was the only one who helped me through those late nights as a first time mom. She’d learned how to calm and meditate with me when she was a kitten, so, when I needed it most, she was right there next to me vibrating that same purr, in the same spot. She helped me make it through those first weeks. Gabe, our hunter, hit the same note when it was time for me to let him cross over. I wasn’t ready, but he was, and he let me know with that soft purr on just the right note.

So, how do you meditate with your cat? (I haven’t tried this with dogs, but please do and let us know the results!) Some are naturals…some require some guidance. Thankfully, mine have all gravitated right to it, but that may be because we make it such an intrinsic part of our household or it’s such a part of my nature, I only attract those who are inclined to be good about it too.

First, create a space for yourself that you are going to use consistently to meditate. This is a must, whether you’re trying to get your 4-legged to cooperate or not. It helps to set your subconscious up for success when you’re ready to sit down to focus. I use my couch and a cross-legged position. My body naturally falls into a receptive mode and starts to relax. My husband will meditate in bed and the cats are fine with it. (They refuse to participate if I’m in bed and meditating…instead I get the meows and the growls.) Wherever it is, make it consistent.

Next, start to introduce soft music when you’re out of the house, and they are more naturally at rest. Use harps, strings, nature sounds. Note: DO NOT USE music with BIRDS! They start stalking the CD player or the TV. I’ve watched it happen!

Next, use that same music they’ve been listening to during day for your relaxation/meditation sessions. You will see they start to quietly unwind and come to curl up next to you as your breathing evens out. Most will want to touch you in some way, so they may lie in your lap or next to you. Do NOT give in to to the need to acknowledge their presence. NO petting. If you must, lay a hand on them and keep it still. Remain focused on your meditation.

And, just breathe.

Open your eyes whenever you’re ready.

You can see our cat family at http://catklaw.com/kittens/ – this is our hidden yet dedicated site to all those who are familiar in our lives. I don’t post up often, but they are integral to our family.

For those interested in a Guided Meditation with their feline family members, please, post up! I’ll create one to share!

Stacia D. Kelly, PhD, MHt takes a whole mind-body-spirit approach to health and well-being and teaches her clients to do the same. She is the Mind-Body-Fusion Specialist. Breathe. Focus. Achieve. She is a Master Certified clinical hypnotherapist, a 1st degree black belt, and spends way too much time with her nose in a book. She writes paranormal romances with a very hypnotic style and tries to inject humor in all her non-fiction writing. She plays doorman (woman) to three cats while the young one is off to school and the husband is all over the state for either the day job or a band. Stacia is also the founder of CatKlaw, Inc., a Creative Solutions Company, and Mind-Body-Spirit Works, a Holistic Health Practice.

Stacia is offering one of her guided relaxations titled Relax Into Being as a free download.

About the author

How to Cope With Losing a Pet

In one of the stars...

For those of us who share our lives with animals, it’s inevitable that at some point, we will be dealing with losing these beloved friends.  Over the last ten years, I’ve lost three cats, and I’ve helped many clients through pet loss during the years I worked in veterinary clinics.  As a result, I’m often asked how to cope with losing a pet.

Different things work for different people.  Each situation is unique.  Was the death sudden?  Did it come after a prolonged illness?  Was it the first time the person experienced losing a pet?   I share my own experience of dealing with pet loss and grief in Buckley’s Story – Lessons from a Feline Master Teacher, and maybe my readers will find some commonalities with what I went through.  Even though no two people will deal with pet loss in exactly the same way, I’ve found some common things that can help ease the pain at least a little.  I’ll also share some resources at the end of this article that have helped me when I’ve had to deal with grief and loss.

Acknowledge that losing a pet is a very difficult experience.  Many people, especially people who don’t have pets, don’t realize that losing a pet can often be far more difficult than losing a person.  Many of us view our pets as children, especially if we don’t have children of our own.  For most pet owners, losing a pet is very much like losing a child.    Don’t let anyone tell you that you should “get over it,” “it was only an animal,” or, even worse, “you can always get another one.”  Expect to feel the same emotions you would feel after a person close to you dies.  In Elizabeth Kuebler Ross’ model, the five stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and eventually acceptance.  Expect that some of these stages may be magnified after losing a pet.

Mark the pet’s passing with some sort of ritual.  It’s important to acknowledge that your pet is gone.  A ritual can be something as elaborate as a memorial service and burial ceremony, or something as simple as lighting a candle in your pet’s memory each night for a little while.

Find supportive family and friends.  Not everyone in your life will be able to handle your grief.  It’s important that you find people who are comfortable with being supportive, can handle letting you cry, listen while you talk about your pet, or who can just quietly sit with you.  Many people don’t know what to do or say when faced with someone who is grieving, so, afraid of saying the wrong thing, they don’t say anything at all.  This can make you feel even more isolated during a difficult time.  Try not to judge people for their inability to handle your grief, and spend more time with those who can.

Allow yourself time to grieve.  There is no way around grief – the only way to deal with grief is to move through it.  If you try to ignore it, it will catch up with you when you least expect it.  You may need to spend an afternoon or an evening crying.  You may not want to distract yourself all the time.  While it’s not healthy to get stuck in your grief, pretending that nothing is wrong is equally unhealthy.  Try and find a balance.

Find things that comfort you.  Whether it’s a walk, music, a favorite book, looking at photos of your pet, or a perfect cup of tea, find small things that provide comfort for you. 

Getting over the loss of a pet takes time, and it takes being gentle with yourself.  If you find that you simply can’t cope, and that even supportive family members or friends aren’t enough to help you get through this difficult time, consider getting professional help.  And know that even though it seems hard to believe when you’re in the middle of grieving the loss of an animal friend, there is truth to the old adage that time heals all wounds.  It does get a little bit easier as time goes on, and one day, upon waking up in the morning, instead of your first thought being about your pet being gone, you’ll find yourself remembering something wonderful about your departed friend.

Resources:

• http://www.veterinarywisdom.com/ is a wonderful site for anyone looking for information on pet loss. The understand that it’s hard to face the future when you know it won’t include your beloved animal companion, and they offer a plethora of resources to prepare for and cope with pet loss, as well as to celebrate and cherish the pets we love.

• http://www.petloss.com/ provides information on how to cope with pet loss, a bulletin board to exchange messages and gain support from others grieving the loss of a pet, healing and inspirational poetry, and links to other internet pet loss sites.

• BooksFor Every Cat an Angel and For Every Dog an Angel by Christine Davis.  These little books are wonderfully illustrated and celebrate the connection between a human and his or her forever cat or dog.

• Music:  Some people find music plays an important part in the healing process.  One particular cd that I have found very helpful anytime I’ve dealt with loss, whether it was an animal or a person, is Beth Nielsen Chapman’s cd Sand and Water.  The singer/songwriter wrote the songs on this album after the loss of her husband to cancer.  The songs on the album reflect the many stages of grieving and healing, and are just as applicable to pet loss as they are to human loss.

• Private Pet Loss Consultation:   I offer phone consultations to help you navigate through your grief.  Sometimes, talking to someone who has experienced this devastating loss can make a difference.  For more information on consultations, click here.

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Pets and Lawn Chemicals – Not a Good Combination

cat_and_dog_on_grass

While a green lawn is pretty to look at, you should think twice about how you go about achieving that lush, green look.   The pesticides we apply to our lawns and gardens are hazardous to our pets.  Pets can absorb pesticides through their paws or lick it off their bodies. In addition, pets can be exposed to pesticides when they eat grass.   Some of the chemicals found in herbicides are also easily tracked indoors on your shoes.  An EPA funded study in 2001 found that 2,4-D and dicamba (a chemical used in herbicides) are easily tracked indoors, contaminating the air and surfaces inside residences and exposing children and pets at levels ten times higher than pre-application levels.

This should be enough to make any pet owner think twice about using chemical fertilizers.  There are plenty of natural and organic alternatives to these chemicals that are not only safer for your pets, but also friendlier to the environment.

Insecticide and pesticide poisoning is always an emergency situation and requires immediate veterinary attention.  Symptoms of insecticide poisoning are:

• Excessive salivation
• Tearing of the eyes
• Excessive urination
• Muscle twitching
• Weakness
• Difficult breathing
• Collapse
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Abdominal pain
• Weakness
• Dizziness
• Unsteady gait

Repeated exposure to phenoxy herbicides (example: 2,4-D) may affect the liver, kidneys, gastrointestinal tract and skeletal muscles. Some pesticides contain chlorophenoxy acids and are poisonous to the blood, leading to anemia, neutropenia (low white blood cell count), thrombocytopenia (low platelet count), and feline distemper.

Don’t put your pets’ health at risk – look for natural alternatives to keep your lawn green and your yard weed-free.

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Meditate with your pet

Meditation is usually viewed as a spiritual practice, but research shows that there are innumerable health benefits as well.  Most physical illness is caused by stress, and meditation provides stress relief by calming down the mind and body.  A regular meditation practice is one of the best things you can do for your mind and body.

I often hear people say “I can’t meditate.  I can’t shut down my thoughts.” 

You don’t have to.   Simply making the commitment to sit quietly for fifteen, ten, even five minutes a day can have beneficial effects.  Don’t judge yourself – if you find that you can’t quiet your mind, try and simply acknowledge your thoughts, and then gently let them go.

Your pets can help you meditate.  If you can’t clear your mind, try focusing on the purring cat in your lap or the sleeping dog by your side.  Focus on the love you share with your pet.  While this may not be what some purists consider meditation, I can guarantee you that it will change your state of mind to one of peace and relaxation.

contemplating-007Amber is meditating.

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