Want to be Watchful? Take a Lesson from the Cat

It isn’t easy for most of us to step outside of ourselves and truly observe what’s happening in life and with other people. Our minds race, and often we want to jump in and let someone know what we think about what they are saying or doing. Most of us, though, want to increase our communication with others – and strengthen our relationships. The best way to do this is to stay still and be aware of what’s happening with ourselves and with others.

I, like many people, struggle with exactly how to stop myself and stay still and focused on another person. I practice being an Interested Observer quite a bit each day, but I am always looking for other ways to improve. Today I found my tutors – my cats!

As I was making breakfast this morning, I was watching how very still and silent one of my cats was being as he watched the birds outside the window. It was as if he were a statue, he was so focused and intent on the view. As he sat there I marveled at the incredible fortitude and patience that a cat shows when they want to. There was nothing we could do to move him from his spot – call his name, throw a treat on the floor or wiggle his favorite feather. He was rooted to that area, just watching and waiting.

Now, I hope we don’t learn to “pounce” on other people as my cat would likely do if I let him out with the birds! But the stillness and the calm centeredness he displayed is what I strive for in my relationships with others. Being still and allowing the other person to reveal themselves, what they care about and what is going on with them is the kindest and most loving thing we can do for another. Most of us just want to be understood – and deep down few of us think that we are, even by those that love us. Being patient and non-judgmental is such a gift we can offer to another person.

Today, practice a bit being still. I know I am always moving, often rushing, and many times during the day I need to remind myself to “slow down.” Strength comes from stillness, and a few times each day we need to stop what we are doing, watch our triggers with others and give ourselves more choice about how we engage.