- Sheeja Shaju
Are you feeding your cat?
By Sheeja Shaju
I heard this story from one of my teachers and it has stayed with me like glue.
Once there lived many rats in a house. They ate everything in sight and grew in numbers day after day. In the same house lived a cat which was malnourished because it had little or nothing to eat at all. One day the owner of the house noticed the cat and started feeding her. Soon the cat grew stronger. One fine day, the cat became a little bold because of the energy she had gained and tried pouncing on a rat. It clawed the rat, but the rat has more strength than the cat and managed to get away. A few more days passed by and the cat now was more confident than ever. She made a move on a rat and killed it. This boosted her confidence. Not very long after that she killed many rats in the house. All the other rats soon abandoned the house and ran away.
As you may have probably guessed by now, this story is a metaphorical one.
The house is our life. The rats are our thoughts which roam about freely, they come and go, they get created in multitudes. The more we feed them the more they grow. The more we are not aware of them growing, the more they thrive.
The cat is our awareness. The more we nourish it, the more it will grow and become strong.
When our awareness becomes strong there is literally little or no room left for our thoughts to roam in abandon. Then we have the choice to choose our thoughts.
When we choose our thoughts, the two things that tend to greatly diminish are discomfort and disempowerment amongst others.
Why is awareness important? Awareness helps us be present in this moment; not in the events of the past nor in the stories of the possible future. Awareness is being here in the now. It means being mindful of every moment.
How do I become more aware? The one word answer is – Practice.
How can I practice this?
1. Practice meditation/ centering. Remember the more you feed your cat the more it gets stronger! Everyday sit and practice meditating. Start with 10-15 minutes every day. (Feeding your cat)
2. Keep reminders on your phone/or in places around your home/office to stop and become aware of your mood/ energy/thoughts. (Feeding your cat)
When your awareness gets stronger, you will notice you have an abundance of happiness and freedom.
When your mind is full of thoughts you will notice you feel physically tired that day more than other days. Try getting rid of these thoughts and see the difference.
In the post-COVID world many of us have all kinds of thoughts about our future, whether it is a lay-off, financial burden of the pay cut, anxieties of health risk, challenges at physical / virtual offices, all kinds of them. These thoughts are our stories of what is to come. If these stories allow you to take steps to creating a kick-ass future then, well done, feed these thoughts!. But if these stories pull you down or disempower you then remember they will also restrict you from taking constructive actions and may restrict your freedom. This is where awareness comes to the rescue!
Become aware of how this thought is serving you or not. When awareness sets in then you have a choice of feeding it or starving it.
As always, I leave you with a practice -
The next time your spouse/ parents-in-law/ boss says something to you that you don’t like; just pause and notice your stories about them. Is that story serving you/your relationship?
Begin with noticing just once a day and gradually increase the number of times you notice them.
Feed the cat or the rats, the choice is yours!