I mentioned I wanted assurance. Ease, solace, soothing. For all of us, beans and cat-beings alike.
I now see, in my golden years, that I need to loosen my grip on that ’60’s flower-power
pipedream. This flower doesn’t grow by itself. It’s a complex piece of gardening at the best of times.
I like what I’m seeing in the work of psychiatrist and brain-scientist Daniel Siegel. He shows that the human brain – and I believe this is also true for all sentient beings, to a greater or lesser extent – functions by handling four streams of input: Sensation, observation, cognition, and knowing (“SOCK”). To live as mature beings, we need to learn the skills to juggle these four streams, to integrate all four, to mediate and to intervene, into this playground neuron-fest, by exercising executive functions of choice and desire –
And just you try pulling off that party-trick when you’ve got a kink in your tail. When you’ve learned your chops on the street. When you’ve had the kind of upbringing that’s left you, shall we say, less than clear about how, when claws come out and fur gets ruffled, to come back home to ease and soothing solace.
The Siegel book I’m reading is THE MINDFUL BRAIN. Siegel is a Harvard medschool grad and director of the Mindsight Institute (see here for on-line courses): http://mindsightinstitute.com/
And he’s co-director of the UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: http://marc.ucla.edu/
Or for an easy introduction, invest an hour listening to my favorite BRAIN SCIENCE PODCAST with Dr. Ginger Campbell. Campbell is a truly great interviewer, with a real gift for clarity and accessibility. Here’s a link to her Siegel interview:
So the “assurance” work continues over here with Bugs and this Bean.
Jackson Galaxy says cats are like balloons: You either put energy into the balloon, or you take it out.
Putting energy into the Bugs balloon seems to mean that I work with, honor, his hunt-catch-kill | eat-groom-crash cycle.
Putting energy into the Bean balloon means I inculcate, in myself with meditation and FELDENKRAIS, the ability to tolerate feeling and sensation in a more balanced manner, so I don’t let depression and denial drain me, or let rage and frustration burn me up.
Taking energy out of the Bean balloon? Same strategies – meditation, FELDENKRAIS, plus blowing off steam by consulting with my lovely empathetic NONVIOLENT COMMUNICATION partners.
Taking energy out of the Bugs balloon? I’m kind of making this up as I go along.
I’ve written about how just my touch, without Teresa and TELLINGTON, hasn’t worked out the way I need it to – i.e., fast enough. I’ve written about how, for me, it works better to disagree with Bugs’s energy by using the “TSSHT” expression, followed up by agreement with praise and treats.
Now I want to expand the repertoire. I’m nervous about over-relying on treats. Weight and health issues come to mind. So I’m trying treats plus things like:
Not waiting for the claw-launch to even enter Bugs’s head, but by getting the jump by “owning” a circle of space around me, and disagreeing when Bugs even looks at that space with more energy than I’m comfortable with. Jackson says cats allocate territory amongst themselves. And swatting and hissing is not unheard-of.
Using my meditation work to concentrate attention – but to diffuse the energy I bring to bear on Bugs by focusing on what he’s doing, but softening too-strong deployment against him by ducking my head, using sweeping round gestures, and avoiding eye contact.
Watching his body-language as intently but softly as ever I can – the carriage of his tail, the look in his eye (which changes rapidly and constantly), where he points his chin, with what speed and emphasis.
All which require, at key times, that I put this computer down. (Which may be the hardest part.)
It’s been a long morning. We started our engines at 6:00 and I believe he’s finally careened-off into his morning pit-stop – for the moment – at 10:15.
But even in the middle of this
duel negotiation, I like the softer eyes I see here. I took this in a hiatus about half-way through, at around 8:00.
It’s quiet now. It’s about 107 degrees outside – but it’s cool and quiet in here. Well, quiet except for the roar of the window-unit.
Frankly? Music to my ears.