The Act of Purring & the Muddled Art of Meditation

Sophia eyes closed

Sophia, on one of our morning meditations

To me, a cat’s purr is the most wonderful thing… How amazing it is to signal happiness in such a physical, visceral way. How special it is to be able to demonstrate that happiness, to yourself and to the world, and to have that feeling magnified and amplified, feeding back into its’ own intensity. Purring, it seems to me, is the most fantastic blend of the emotional and corporeal.

Surely the act of purring must engender an sensation of utter bliss…  I’ve observed that a purring cat often has glassy eyes with a dreamy countenance, and seems completely tuned into and at one with their own delight. I wonder then, if when a cat purrs, that it is a mode of meditation..?

A purring cat is lost in rapture, seemingly unthinking, so surely that is a meditative state? Spend any length of time with cats and you will observe that most of them have a capricious capacity to surrender themselves completely to their pleasures – to their sleeping and to their purring. So if purring is akin to meditation, it seems to me quite obvious that cats generally have a very Zen like existence. They have a simple self assurance, and their physical needs for food and shelter are met, so they can give themselves over to endless hours of sleeping, the giving and receiving of affection and the sheer poetry of joy that it is to purr.  And if purring is meditation, and they spend so much time engaged in it, well that alone could explain their Zen like lot in life…

I really wish that I found meditation so easy… I simply do not seem to have the capability to still and empty my mind, even after the pre-emptory and preparatory deep breathing and positive intention setting. Still, I have found some comfort, in that most people I know, who practice some form of meditation, also find this to a greater or lesser degree and in fact say that it not possible to do so, rather that you accept the unwanted thoughts as passers by, or clouds, or signals for healing or any number of chosen alternatives.

Personally I find that if I set my intention around such intrusive thoughts, that I can choose to acknowledge them and let them go, for that meditative period of time, and that I can also trust myself to decipher and decode them at a later, more conscious time if necessary.

There are myriad forms of meditation and I have dallied with many of them. Since I am still practising true mindfulness, I find on the path to there, that my brain finds visualization and guided meditations somewhat easier; so that rather than emptying my mind, I fill it with positive experiences and expectations instead, hyper-linking myself to a glorious repetition of positive states, not least relaxation.

But then purring cats seem to fulfill all of this with out any real effort. When I observe this, I realise that there must be some lessons in this for me. And though I have been practising my morning meditations for some years now, for a long, long time I kept my cats and my meditation strictly separate.

In fact I have spent so much of my life, keeping the various aspects of it separate. I segmented myself into work mode, into family mode, into hobby mode, and a whole verisimilitude of modes, across all aspects of my life in order that I could control it all and not let one aspect messily bleed into another. But life for me never sat neatly like that and when I started on a more conscious path, I also started to join up all dots and in doing so, actually found life a whole lot easier and more natural.

Meditation is a classic example of this. In the past I would get up in the morning, close the bedroom door on the world and focus on my meditation. Cats would simply be a distraction… Now that I realise that distractions are normal, I have willingly let the cats in to my practice.

Now instead in the morning I descend downstairs, get comfy on the sofa and then begin. And I’ll allow who ever chooses to, to join me.

Of my three cats George, as always, is most naturally inclined to join in with my practice; Taz really couldn’t care a fig about it – his physical and emotional needs are simple and are met by food, shelter and love. Then there is Sophia, always brimming with churlish, childish energy, never stopping long in any one place, literally or figuratively – as something or someone, will tend to spook her or pique her interest.

I think of Sophia as an eternal kitten, squeaking through and playing with life – she is small and fey in stature, even though she probably consumes three times as much food as the others put together, so clearly she has a manic metabolism, which drives her on to munch much and to hunt.

So to my surprise, she actually enjoys my morning meditations. She will climb into my lap and start purring, volubly and rapturously. The first time I turned on one of my meditation tracks, she jumped at the noise, so I turned the volume down and she settled in and soaked up the vibes. She rarely stays put, any where for more than a few minutes, but now will stay with me through many of my morning meditations, which are usually around 15 – 20 minutes.

And rather than being a distraction, I find Sophia’s purring presence to be a benediction. As so many methods of meditation use mantras and chanting to engage in and enhance the experience, I am now using purring – focusing on the sound and the feel and receiving this little creature’s rapture, so to augment my own mental escape and ecstasy.

Sophia and George now quietly vie for the morning meditation lap and I just allow who ever comes along to take part and so we are nicely set up for the day…

It all works out, deliciously and some how, if I let it, so too will my life, just like my day…

PS: Did you know that a collection of my ‘Peachey Letters’ have been gathered together in to a beautiful book, cats and all?  I’m completely biased of course, but it makes a purrfect present, for you or the cat lover in your life… You can buy it from book websites any where in the world, including Amazon (in both Paperback and Kindle)

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