The new year is often a time when many of us create intentions for the coming months. For many years, I sat down on each New Year’s Eve and assembled my own list of ambitions and desires and then posted it somewhere visible; I hoped it would serve as a constant reminder. Although I savored the ritual of dreaming and designing the list, most of the year I did nothing more than walk past it on the way to the bathroom.
After a few years of this, I learned I could create and change my intentions in each fresh moment. I wasn’t relegated to the affirmations scrawled on Hello Kitty stationary each December 31st. I found freedom in this discovery and now regularly revisit my intentions in my morning meditation and journaling, as well as throughout the day.
Some of my intentions are more easily met than others. Sure, it was (sort of) easy enough to practically eliminate refined sugars from my diet. I’ve remained (fairly) focused on daily blogging and creating connections in the writing world. I even (briefly) picked up sewing again and fashioned a few fun projects. Despite my efforts toward fulfilling these very tangible, measurable goals, I continue to find myself visiting, revisiting, and again revisiting one that feels impossible to measure, yet is a definite key to undeniable bliss: feeling more moment-to-moment presence in every part of my life.
I know I’m not the only one who sometimes finds difficulty feeling completely present in each moment — the books written by experts line the bookstore shelves. We seem to be desperately seeking that secret…the one piece of advice that instructs us how to flip the distraction switch to the fully focused position. I’ve read plenty of those books and have gratefully gleaned guidance. Intellectually, I’ve got it mastered; I could teach a class on the subject. Practically speaking, however, I sometimes feel like the Princess of Preoccupation.
You know who has never read a book, but has mastered the power of presence? Cats. They fastidiously fixate on whatever happens to be top of mind in the moment. What can we learn from these whiskered wise ones? I think if we pay attention, we can expect a master class in embracing the here-and-now.
- Cats have no trouble falling asleep. They don’t lie awake thinking about the catnip mouse they lost under the refrigerator.
- Cats play intensely. They narrow their focus on that jingle ball and throw themselves into every tumble, sprint, and pounce. I want to play like that, although my pouncing skills are a bit rusty….
- My cats love to watch chipmunks and they often gather together at the front door and, with laser-like focus, follow the chippies’ every move. They don’t leave their viewing space until the curtain falls on the rodent show. They are persistent and follow through until the end. Cats, chipmunk-watching; me, writing.
- When one of my cats snuggles in my lap, purring, I can bet that I’m the only thing on his mind. I can tell by the look in his eyes — pure love and presence. This is how I want to feel more often when I am spending one-on-one time with the people in my life.
Our furry friends seem to have unlocked the door and I’m still sometimes fumbling for the key at the bottom of my purse. Maybe we should all start thinking with more of a feline mind. Yes! That’s my new intention. I will clear my mind at bedtime, play more intensely, narrow my focus on writing projects, and converge the energy of my heart and mind into meaningful moments throughout the day. I do, however, draw the line at using the litter box.