The Power of Stillness

Lizards are masters. Snakes are pros. Cats are champions at it too… when they’re asleep. What do they have in common? They all can be exceptionally still. Humans? Not so much. We need to work at it a little harder.

Stillness doesn’t seem to be in our genes. Rather, we seem programmed to do more; to work more, work out more, play more, and well, be more. Sometimes our minds are racing so much, we might not realize that we are, in fact, running our bodies ragged.

Do you sometimes feel that your body is almost a separate entity from your mind? Do your mind and body go about their day as if they have nothing to do with each other? If your mind and body were to separate from each other, would they tell the same story about your life? It could make an interesting novel, yes?

Practically speaking, the mind and body work together every day, so they must be communicating. Our minds tell our bodies to retrieve an object, and our bodies follow the instructions. When our bodies feel cold or hot, our minds say, hey fix that, I’m uncomfortable! We’re quick to fix those discomforts that are on the surface. But what about other discomforts that aren’t so obvious?

One day in my yin yoga class, I did a spinal stretch and felt a sudden rush of emotion. I saw my father in a hospital bed. My father died earlier this year, so it makes sense my body could hold on to some of that grief. The image of my dad in a hospital bed was one that happened much earlier, long before he had passed, but there it was. One simple stretch and tears streamed down my face. I breathed through the stretch, trying to shake off my sorrow, and hoped my teacher wouldn’t say a word. She didn’t. I pulled myself together.

My body may hold on to pain that I have yet to face or perhaps it’s a memory stored on the cellular level. Whether you believe such things are possible, I feel that our bodies are talking to us in some form or fashion. I felt mine talking to me that day.

The trouble is we rarely listen to our bodies. Sometimes, there may even be confusion. Is it your mind or body requesting coffee? What I know is that the quest for more often leads to less sleep and less time for ourselves. In a rush to get somewhere and be more, being still seems counterproductive.

I’m reminded of the time I danced in a tribute to Pina Bausch and one option for movement in the piece was to be still. To not move. I found that strange. We didn’t even have to give it counts; we could decide how long. The only condition was that you had to be really still. If you moved a finger or twitched an eye, you fell short of the goal of attaining real stillness. Anyway, this stillness was as much a movement as the choreographed movements; being still was its own move. And if you did it right, you could make as much a statement with it as with anything else.

Try it. Be still. It may open your eyes to not only what’s around you but allow yourself to hear your body’s story. What is it telling you? Don’t forget to breathe on purpose while you listen.

Be still...like the rock.
Be still…like the rock.

photo credit: Rock Simplicity via photopin (license)

Harmony in Haydale – Friday Fictioneers – 02/28/14

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers. Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff Fields for graciously hosting this group  every week, and to Sandra Crook for this week’s inspirational photo.

My 100-word story follows. For other fabulous stories from the Fictioneers, click HERE.

Why not give it a try yourself? Everyone is welcome to participate.

Genre: Humor (100 words)

Copyright - Sandra Crook
Copyright – Sandra Crook

Harmony in Haydale

When farmers fled the land, their flocks followed. And so Hemsdale became Haydale,  not to be confused with “hay bale.”

Goats milled about happy and lost. Cows, paying no mind to the daily business, clogged the main arteries for hours, stopping time as they chewed hay incessantly. Chickens fluttering on tavern tabletops became tomorrow’s stew.

The pungent aroma cloaking the village became impossible to escape,  and around the clock fecal maintenance created many jobs. Villagers wagered bets over the slaughtering of one’s favorite sheep, and thus, blood detail was added to the duties.

And of course, hay. Always  more hay.

Fat Kitty City: A Special Place

I visited an enchanting place today. It’s called Fat Kitty City and it’s the only cat sanctuary in all of Northern California. My family and I took our kitty Spud to the sanctuary to get neutered.

Spud looked a little worried, but I know he’s in good hands. We met Spud at the local pet store where Fat Kitty City brings cats for adoption.

Little Spud; also known as Spuds, Spuddy, Spudley, Spudinsky, Spudman or just Tater. His secret name must be Butterscotch although he would never tell.

Their sanctuary is magical, nestled in the hills, down a windy narrow lane, about two miles from the main road. Cats roam freely here inside a spacious gated property. There are about 180 cats, with approximately 25 feral cats who wander outside the gate. The feral cats, of course, know it is their home and probably would not survive anywhere else.

Ed and Cindy, a husband and wife team, live in a house adjacent to the property. Together, along with many volunteers, they care for the cats and kittens and provide medical services, food, shelter, and a place for these cats to call home. While many of the cats seemed happy and adjusted, I’m sure they would love to have a forever home. Some are permanent residents due to their physical needs and conditions. Ed and Cindy know all their cats by name, with the exception of eight of the feral cats.

A success story that’s hard to ignore

Winner, miracle cat, won my heart.

Meet Winner. He pulled at my heartstrings. A woman phoned into the sanctuary one day to report about an abused, tortured cat. Someone had poured gasoline on him. When he arrived, his ear was hanging off and bloodied, and they thought he might lose his eye. He also had bloody cuts on his back. He was in such bad shape, the sanctuary could not yet release a photo of him on their website.

I met him three weeks after the sanctuary rescued him from his ordeal. I seriously bonded with him in a matter of minutes, petting his chin, followed by his purr and a throaty, cracking meow.  He was still recovering then, with a bloody ear and scabs on his back. With a lot of TLC and medical assistance, Winner pulled through. His progress was nothing short of a miracle. I find it amazing that Winner still trusts humans at all.

I considered adopting him, although I’m not sure how he would fare living with my two young boys. He seemed a little jittery around them. But, indeed, he is a Winner.

Kitties of all kinds

Ed likes to joke that they have all kinds, both the pretty and the ugly. Yes, some have nicked ears or are missing eyes or tails. Most cats here are older, but sometimes there are kittens.

Bosco, the elder, is 97 in human years.

The oldest cat living on the property is Bosco. He is over twenty years old, although they are not entirely certain. He eats just wet food now since he has no teeth.

Ginger narrowly escaped death.

Meet Ginger who was gloriously saved. She had only 15 minutes to live before she would have been put to death. The sanctuary came to her rescue when she was nine months old. I learned that the cats at shelters around here only have about two days to land a home. They give cats with special circumstances more time. Ginger is almost two years old.

When you arrive at the sanctuary, cats greet you slowly and warmly. You pet one, and then a few more. Within a few minutes, they surround you, following you around on the grounds. I understand that when they feed them at dusk, all the sleepy ones wake up, and more than one hundred cats are at your feet. That would be something to behold. I may have to return for that. You leave feeling as though you have made a few friends.

Please visit their website at fatkittycity.org for more information.