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seven steps

Mindful like a cat in 7 steps

Usually, I’m pretty calm and organized. But sometimes it’s just one of those days where I feel jittery all the time. While tripping over the mess I should have cleaned up the previous day and try to make myself a cup of coffee before my client calls be for a Skype meeting, I hear the urgent tone of a stream of incoming emails, which are drowned out by the shrill beeping of the washing machine, indicating it’s finished. By now, adrenaline is pumping through by body. And then I see Freya lying on her favourite sheepskin, positioned in a ray of sunshine. As she always does when she’s completely relaxed, she’s lying on her back. I ignore everything around me and walk to her. Her eyes open slightly and she starts purring. What I wouldn’t give to lead such a careless life. Why can’t I be mindful like a cat?

mindful like a cat
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Why we can learn something from cats

You never see cats worry about how they will be able to get through their endless to-do list. While I try to so many things at the same time, I’ve never seen a cat trying to eat while it is cleaning itself. Yes, I think we can definitely learn something from our fluffy friends. Cats fully live in the now and are extremely aware of everything that is going on around them. And still (at least under normal circumstances) they manage to maintain an enviable level of serenity.

This is how you learn to become mindful like a cat

#1. Close your eyes.
How often do you take a break to close your eyes during the day, without the intention of falling asleep? Cats do this all the time. Just give it a try. Close your eyes for a minute or two. This may help you to block out distractions and maintain your focus.

#2. Perk your ears.
Even when their eyes are closed, cats are very alert. Their ears twist like fluffy radars while they listen to the sounds in their environment. When you see a cat sitting like that, relaxed and at the same time very aware of the here and now, you can’t deny that it’s master of mindfulness.

#3. Do nothing.
It’s the moments where they seemingly do nothing at all, that make it look so easy for cats to be mindful. They often sit in silence, just enjoying the moment. In our hectic society, doing nothing is often considered a waste of time. In reality, it’s a way of being mindful, something that allows us to take a ‘mental break’. The most successful people tend to work with short bursts of productivity, alternated with short breaks that we call ‘unstructured downtime’.

#4. Breathe.
Take the time to watch a cat breathe, and then focus on your own breathing. Feel how the air enters your lungs, and what happens when you breathe out. Research has shown that deep, conscious breathing calms the nervous system.

#5. Forget multitasking.
When you’re playing with a cat, its attention will be undivided – providing you’re using the right toy. For example, if a cat is obsessed with a specific piece of string, see what happens when you pull that string across the floor. The cat will fully focus on the string. On that moment, the string is the most important thing in the world. While you’re pulling it, you’re probably doing a whole bunch of other stuff – you’re listening to the sound of the tv, think about what you have to do the next day, or get annoyed by that squeaking floorboard. This multitasking, no matter how innocent it may seem, can lead to stress and anxiety.

#6. Stretch!
I can really enjoy watching my cats stretch. And when I take the time to roll out my yoga mat to do some stretching myself, they always want to join in. I’m not kidding, they’re basically fighting for a spot on the mat! I don’t know why. Maybe they sense that I’m relaxing when I’m doing yoga and they want to be a part of that, or maybe they recognize themselves in those stretches. Anyway, if humans would stretch as often and thorough as cats, we would feel a lot better.

#7. Learn to chill anywhere.
Where are you able to easily relax? Probably at home, in your own bed. I often get overstimulated when I’m somewhere else. But look at a cat. It can find a spot to nap basically anywhere. I’m not saying we should start napping anywhere, anytime; it’s more about finding a physical and mental tranquillity, no matter where you are. This, too, is something we can learn from cats.

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