The Story of the Two Cats

I’m fighting the urge to call this The Tale of Two Kitties.  It was the best of times, it was the worst of times……. Tao1

We currently have two cats and a dog.  We lost a cat earlier this year and recently decided that the time was right to get another cat.  Tao, our existing cat, is a lovely little creature who never learned to be a lap kitty.  She was originally a stray and still maintains that “I can fend for myself” air about her.  She used to like to run the hallway and stalk the other cat but since losing him, she’s not done much of the running and obviously, no stalking.

We thought maybe a new cat would be a bit more cuddly to us and would give her a playmate.

Well, it hasn’t worked out quite as we had imagined.

We found a seven month old cat whose family turned up allergic to him.  He’s very sweet.  He wants to sit with us and be in the same room with us.  He’s very social and misses us greatly when we’re not around.  And Tao does not like him.

Tao is the princess cat.  She has that air of royalty that is entitled but doesn’t get her hands dirty.  And she’s always been the Alpha animal.  Since the day we brought her home, she’s been the ruling animal personality in this home.

Stitch, the new cat, doesn’t understand that she’s the Alpha and he’s making a serious play for the position.

The position isn’t open and neither one of them can make the other understand that.

But here’s what has struck me:  In a very real way, Stitch has claimed the dominant role.

Stitch doesn’t realize it yet.  He’s still trying to engage her in a battle.  He spends a great deal of time looking for her and watching her and then plotting his attack.  He waits until we’re out of sight before making his move.  It’s difficult to reconcile the very sweet, wants to be loved cat with the mastermind who has figured out how to get to the other cat.

Meanwhile, Tao spends her time growling at his intrusion into her world.  She spends a lot of time under the bed, or under the table, huddled into a pissed off ball of fur.  When engaged by Stitch, she lets out this unholy scream of indignation that lets everyone know that not only has her bubble been breached but she’s not going to stand for it.

It’s a very interesting dynamic that has become all consuming.   If they are in the same area together, they are stuck in this drama and thus, so are we.  If Tao would concede her authority, she’d figure out how to play with him and would have a companion.  If Stitch would stop trying to take the authority, he’d find himself with a friend and someone to share the toys with.  For all intents and purposes, Stitch is dictating the relationship right now and with that, has gained the upper hand.  But he doesn’t see it.  And so the cycle continues.

Neither one of the cats is fully happy.  Even though they have a nice home, with clean litter boxes and good food that they didn’t have to buy, open or catch, they are not happy.  They are consumed by the other one’s presence.  It’s blocking their ability to see and appreciate all the wonderful things in their world.  And it’s blocking us from being able to give them even more love because we feel apprehensive and divided.  Which, of course, they pick up on and are quick to act on.  It’s a really vicious cycle.

If either of them realized that that their world would not change no matter who “has the power” , maybe the title wouldn’t matter so much.  They both will still be fed at the same time by the same hand in the same house.  The toys, beds, cat perches are all still available to them.  They are safe and warm and tended  to.  But they cannot see it because they are so busy suffering their positions.

This situation has made me wonder what similar situations could be in my life.  Where am I stuck in a dramatic power play that is taking over my thoughts and energy?  What relationships have I decided should go a certain way?  And if that relationship doesn’t fit 100% into what I think it should look like, am I plotting and harassing my way through it? Or am I screaming with indignation?

If I were to realize that power is an illusion and claim the reality that my world doesn’t really change if I change my stance, what could my relationships be?

Something to ponder.

 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair…”

 

Stitch

 

Struggling

I want you to know that everyone struggles with something in their life.  Everyone, no matter how serene their outside facade, has inner demons and struggles.

I am reminded of that anytime a couple who I thought had it all splits up.  Or when some gorgeous, young, vibrant person takes their own life.  Or when a family is shattered by unseen forces.

I think one of the hardest things in this life is the inner voice that is so hard on us.  It knows the secret thoughts of doubt, anger, self recrimination, unworthiness, and the times when you know you didn’t live up to who you want to be.  That voice’s world is dark and cold.  And it usually surfaces when we’re tired and stretched leaving us more vulnerable to accepting that voice as the voice of truth.

I find myself working through some deep thoughts in the middle of the night.  It may seem like the best time, the outside world is quiet, there are no distractions, but it’s actually when my defenses are down and that negative voice seems its loudest.  I know I’ve hit the wall of Out of Control when I worry about when the last time the kitchen floor was mopped.  But I don’t always hit that well recognized wall.  Most of the time, I stop short and just wallow at the base of the wall, unable to sleep and unable to work through the issue with my sleep deprived reasoning skills.

In the morning light, my fears and worries are put back into perspective.  They shrink back and are replaced with my life’s missions and obligations and by the affirmations of those around me who find me valuable and worthy.  Yes, there are days when the shadows sneak in but in the daylight, those shadows are not overwhelming.

So, what do you do when the shadows seem to be overtaking you?

My simple answer is pray.  Pray to your Higher Power, God, Allah, Jesus, Messiah, All That Is, and surrender the fear and the doubts and the worries that are swirling around.  Imagine gathering all the darkness and putting it in a basket or a box and handing it over to the Great Light of the Universe.  Imagine this basket/box being lifted from your hands and feel the weight of it being removed from your being.  Feel your fingers releasing the basket/box.  Let it go.  Don’t reach for it again.

Feel that sense that you are safe and that your biggest worries are being handled by someone who has more knowledge than you do.  It’s safe here.  You are safe.

Close your eyes and imagine a great sunrise on all those shadow thoughts.  Blasted in the light of knowingness and centeredness, they are gone.  Shadow thoughts cannot stand in the light.

You have the power within you to raise the light of your being any time of day.  As I sit here at 3:32 AM, I know that my light and my God rise inside of me and banish all those shadows thoughts.  I am an expression of God, full of worthiness, confidence, wisdom, power, zeal.  There is no situation here that can overtake the light of who I am.

Grounded in this wisdom, I sleep.

How Meditation Can Affect Alpha Rhythms in the Brain – Re-post

 

This is a re-post from an email sent to me from Luminosity.com by Pam Zhang.

http://www.lumosity.com/blog/meditation/

 

How Meditation Can Affect Alpha Rhythms in the Brain
Meditation might act as a “volume knob” forselective attention, leading to better control over pain and negative emotions. A recently published Brown University study on mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) has shown that attentional training holds promise for improving everyday functions.
What is MBSR?
Originally developed by a professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical Sc hool, mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) has grown to become part of many healthcare plans in the last 20 years.It consists of an 8-week program that trains patients to focus a “spotlight of attention”on different parts of their body, and eventually to develop the same awareness of their mental states.

How MBSR affects alpha rhythms
There is strong evidence that the MBSR techniques of increasing attentional control have measurable effects on alpha wave behavior in patients’ brains. Alpha rhythms are a key part of the sensory system: they’re related to how the brain processes and filters irrelevant sensory inputs.Filtering inputs is a crucial part of higher order cognitive process such as selective attentionand working memory. Both of these processes are based on a person’s attention to focus on relevant information while ignoring irrelevant information. Without proper filtering, your ability to carry out even the most basic cognitive operations can be crippled.

Imagine the simple task of backing your car out of the driveway. In order to reach the street safely, you must hold your destination in mind while steering t he car and ignoring distractions from every modality: the news on the radio, children playing at the end of the block, an itch on your foot, the glare of the sun in your eyes. Most of us do this filtering subconsciously—but if you let such irrelevant stimuli distract you, even such a daily task can become a difficult ordeal.

That’s why MBSR’s value extends even beyond its ability to improve attention during regular tasks: one of its primary clinical uses is in the treatment of patients suffering from chronic pain, who struggle with ignoring irrelevant pain stimuli on a daily basis. In fact, MBSR has been shown to have positive emotional benefits in those suffering from chronic pain and depression.

Brain scan evidence of MBSR
In this 2013 Brown University study, researchers divided participants into two different groups: a test group that underwent MBSR training for 8 weeks, and a control group that did not. After 8 weeks, both groups were analyzed using a brain imaging technique known asmagnetoencephalography (MEG).Participants in the brain scan were told to direct attention to or away from their left index fingers. The MBSR group’s neuronal response was significantly faster than the control groups, as measured by concentration of alpha power.