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Peace, Mindfulness and Grandma's Cat

Peace, Mindfulness and Grandma's Cat

When I was a kid my grandmother had this cat, it was as mean as a snake. Every year grandma would come for the holidays and every year she’d bring that cat. That cat hated everybody and everything, including my poor grandmother. While she visited we had to share our basement room with the cat. It would inevitably establish an outpost on the third or fourth step from the top and fiercely guard it, attacking anyone or anything that dared cross its path. Negotiating safe passage up and down those narrow basement stairs was a lot like trying to calm the busy mind. 

The human mind is a busy place. Every day we are bombarded by messages delivered by our subconscious. The more stress we feel,  the more messages our mind wants to send us. Sometimes it can be overwhelming sometimes it can be exhausting, sometimes it can be an angry cat on a narrow set of basement steps. Fortunately, there is a way we can regain some mastery and control and it’s called mindfulness. You may have heard this term or another very similar concept called, living in the moment. Basically, it refers to quieting that busy part of your mind and focusing more on the exact moment and time we are living in but how we make that happen is often misunderstood.

Like trying to pass that cat on the steps, quieting the busy mind is not always an easy thing to do. The second it senses weakness, fear or hesitation it reacts. I was always terrified of that cat until one day when I was lying on the couch quietly reading a book. Without warning the cat silently approached, leaped onto my chest and sat there with me eye to eye. I froze for a moment, but then without thinking I gently reached out to pet the cat. Hesitantly she responded, I was extremely tentative but eventually we both slowly began to relax. Finally, sensing no threat, she rested her head and went to sleep. When we are stressed or agitated our mind tries to find ways to protect itself. Being mindful means quieting the stories we tell ourselves by observing, not what happened in the past or trying to predict what will happen in the future, but by observing what is happening right now at this very moment. The busy mind will, of course, want to remain busy but by observing what is happening in the moment we can begin to quiet those messages so we can finally relax and find moments of peace.