Meditation comes very naturally to me because I am a cat. When I first began to meditate I thought I was just taking a little cat nap. Then, after attending Durgananda’s meditation courses, I began to realise that I was actually meditating. I was going deep into myself, beyond my claws and under my fur, and connecting with the part of me that is full of love and energy and is in a constant state of purrrfection.
Durgananda says that everyone is able to experience this state of purrfection, (particularly cats) so I would like to share my favourite technique with you. She also says that we should always use a method that works for us and feels natural. We should not try to force a method just because we think we should be using it, or that it works for the person next door.
Now, just as an aside, I have tried to suggest meditation to the dogs next door as they seem to have high levels of anxiety and bark whenever anything at all happens and this noise often startles me out of meditation. When I suggested it they just seem to become completely incensed and bark abusively. I have had to back track swiftly by jumping over the fence and running inside to safety as quickly as I can. In the future I will find a quieter spot for meditation rather than confronting that beast again. I could use headphones but they don’t sit well on my ears. I suppose the lesson for me here is to not make suggestions to those creatures that don’t want to hear them.
Back to my preferred meditation technique, which is mantra repetition with the breath. I repeat the mantra once as I inhale and once as I exhale. I purrticularly like using this method as it creates a very soft soothing hum.
In fact a cat’s mantra, its purr, has very special and beneficial healing properties. There have been a number of studies on this and, according to Leslie A. Lyons, an Assistant Professor of Veterinary Medicine, “Cats purr during both inhalation and exhalation with a consistent pattern and frequency between 25 and 150 Hertz. Various investigators have shown that sound frequencies in this range can improve bone density and promote healing”.
Imagine that! My purr is able to heal. I have been experimenting with the healing quality of my purr on Durgananda’s neck. She injured it some time ago and it flares up sometimes. When she is resting, in order to help this healing process, I climb up to sit on her shoulder and snuggle into her neck while purring as loudly as I can. Sometimes I smother her face a little but I know she doesn’t mind as I am healing her neck. I think my purring is helping a lot. You see, the sound of my hum is the sound of om, which is the sound of the universe as well as the first part of my name. When I meditate I am so fortunate to naturally connect with the sound of the universe humming.
But back to my explanation of how this method works. You begin, first, by finding or creating a meditation space for yourself, a spot that is dedicated only to meditation and spiritual practice. By creating a dedicated space you build the energy in it and, whenever you return to it, your practice comes more easily.
My favourite spot is Durgananda’s lap when she is meditating, or the windowsill when a yoga class in underway. Obviously, these two spots are not suitable for you, you can’t sit on Durgananda’s lap (though you could attend a meditation or yoga class with her) and you probably don’t fit comfortably on the windowsill like I do but other options are favourite chairs and cushions, which I also use, as it is not always possible to attend a class or meditate when Durgananda is there.
For example, I have a number of other spots around the Maribyrnong Centre that I have claimed as my meditation spots: the rug outside the meditation and yoga hall, the chair in the bedroom corner, the back of the couch, the centre of the bed and various other sun filled window ledges. At the moment I particularly enjoy the chair in the corner; it gives me a lovely view in two directions; I get a gentle breeze on hot days when the windows are open; and the spot is all mine! Or at least I like to think it is mine. The chair has a lovely soft cushion and woollen asana on it.
For a long time, when Durgananda spoke about asanas, I thought she meant arse. I was very confused about this. I couldn’t understand why she was always talking about bums in a yoga classes. I was worried people might take it the wrong way or out of context. She would say things “find your asana” “sit on your asana” “reach into trikonasana” “fold forward into uttanasana” “explore your asana” or “hold your asana”.
Initially, I tried to do these things with my bum when I attended yoga but I usually gave up and just washed it instead. It was all rather disturbing and I spent a lot of time cleaning myself during yoga until, one day, Natji explained to me that the word asana has a few different meanings depending on the context in which it is used. He said that asana is a Sanskrit word that means seat or posture. In yoga, it refers to the shape you make with your body (I make excellent shapes in yoga) and, for meditation, it refers to your cushion or whatever you sit on to meditate. It can also be used to mean holding your centre, your inner space of power. Now I understand that an asana for meditation is very personal, as it holds your energy and you build on it every time you meditate
When I meditate I go to my asana. I jump up on to it. I turn around a few times and firmly paw and knead the cushion until it plumps up. By turning around a few times I get a nice dip in the centre to sit down in. After I sit down I look around the room to make sure everything is in place, that there is nothing further to investigate. Then I start to withdraw my senses. I turn my attention towards me. I wash myself a little and then curl up into a perfect ball, wrapping my tail delicately around my paws and drift into meditation.
As you don’t have a tail I suggest you get hold of a meditation shawl that you can wrap around yourself. This will also hold the meditative energy and help you to regulate your body temperature as it can fluctuate during meditation. You may also find that it is a bit awkward for you to curl up in a ball, so I suggest sitting upright in a relaxed, comfortable, but also slightly alert manner.
Imagine you are about to take a cat nap. Close your eyes and begin watching your breath. Focus on the sound of your breath and hear it hum. Hear it hum like the sound of the universe, allow the hum to vibrate through your throat. Internally, in tune with your breath, repeat your mantra: once on your in breath and again on your out breath. Allow the vibration of the mantra to resonate through your whole being. Lose yourself in this feeling until you become one with the Self and merge into the universal hum. The hum that I make when I meditate may be slightly different from the hum that you make when you meditate, and that is okay. Each and every breath and mantra meditation is very effective and has great healing qualities.
If you would like to purr along with me listen to the following track.