A useful practice in times of change

In the middle of this very very hot, very very dry summer, when we would stay inside our wonderfully cool little house all day every day, Ella, our lively little cat, was eight months old, and Mocha, our sensitive and often reactive dog, was ten years old.

One day the shit hit the fan.

Mocha was on her bed, sleeping lightly. Ella came flying into the room, skittered across the wood floor, attacked the dog’s tail with one flying paw, claws fully extended, turned, and zoomed out of the room. But Mocha was ready. Suddenly the dog had the cat cornered under the coat rack, and her jaws were closing around Ella’s ribs.

I shrieked, shouting at Mocha in my fiercest voice, pushing her away from the cat, and sending her to her bed. There was no need really; Mocha knew where to go, and as usual, she seemed genuinely remorseful.

But the incident was over the top for me. All afternoon, I stormed around, imagining the quiet home in the country I’d find for Mocha, designing in my mind the sign I’d hang at the vet’s and the Facebook post I’d write. I was done with her, this difficult, traumatized animal who’d shown up in our lives just when we arrived in our idyllic new setting four years ago. Despite some good progress, she still terrorized tourists, lurched and bared her teeth at moving wheels of all sorts, and snarled at children who approached her uninvited.

I’d had enough. Which picture would I choose for the ad?

Meanwhile, Ella was fine, relaxing on her chair next to Mocha’s bed, stretching, washing herself.

As these things go – more and more frequently it seems – when I sat down and opened my computer, there was an offer to watch a short series of videos on working with sensitive animals. Needless to say, I watched them.

For a little over a month now, I’ve been practicing a new form of meditation that I learned from the series, which is about James French’s Trust Technique. After 40 years of practicing more or less the same technique I’d learned from Ganesh Baba, I feel like I’m being offered a promotion. The open-eyed, focused Buddhist-style practice French uses takes the inner skills I’ve honed all these years and redirects them outward, slowly refining my awareness of my own state of mind and Mocha’s. I’m only on the second lesson of the paid series, and my relationship with her has changed.

I haven’t replaced my Ganesh-Baba-style kriya yoga practice with the new practice – I do both; they enhance each other – and I look forward to both my private practice and my twenty minutes of meditation with Mocha with renewed enthusiasm.

Based on Reiki, the trick to meditating and eventually cooperating with animals is to master moving into a deeply peaceful state of presence easily, a stillness without thought, that they find comforting. Now, using my attention increasingly skillfully and progressing at Mocha’s pace, I’m learning to communicate that peace to her. She likes it very much, and so does Ella, who regularly volunteers to join in our experiments.

Today, as I drifted back into ordinary consciousness after a particularly satisfying session with both dog and cat, it occurred to me that the skills I’m gaining may be very useful in these increasingly chaotic times. I’m practicing being undisturbed by passing cars, by Tom passing through the room, being unruffled by feelings of failure or frustration, detached from thoughts of the future and the past. I sit on the floor next with Mocha and Ella, breathing softly, fully present.

And all around me, there is peace.

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31 thoughts on “A useful practice in times of change

  1. Hello Eve,

    Happy Summer! So good to hear from you through your story.

    The practice, so welcomed, so perfect!

    With love to you, and Tom, your furry four-leggeds, and all your relations,

    Carolina

    Baywood Pier, Baywood Park, CA Photo credit: Paul Irving

    >

  2. Such lovely, peaceful experiences you are sending —- thank you. Eve, it is so good to hear from you, and I am so happy to know that you and Tom are well and happy. Keep it up!!! Love and Peace, Lynne

  3. It’s always a delight reading your posts and to hear how you are managing life’s ups and downs. It’s been quite a bumpy ride these past 2 years! Continue to keep us posted and love to both you and Tom!
    Victoria

  4. This is beautiful and informative! I wonder how these techniques would work in public meetings! It would be more straightforward, of course, if the decision-makers voluntarily shared outside-the-meeting time with those of us practicing these or similar techniques (I haven’t tried “reducing levels of thinking” although am interested in learning more about it, but have my own practice of slowing the metabolism of thinking–a major inspiration being the writings and talks of Bayo Akomolafe); when that doesn’t happen, how would one bring “reduced thinking” type presence into the meeting space while still re-engaging on cue for a time-limited opportunity to be heard? Any thoughts from Eve or anyone? I sense that most elected and appointed officials these days are experiencing levels of stress that verge on sheer panic, and they are surrounded by people and expectations that constantly ramp up these levels. Yet I truly believe that humans are like all other animals in needing to trust and connect. How do we influence the dysfunctional pattern language around what passes for official “public service” so that those performing the service can partake of that healing trust even when their past actions create reactions of intense distrust? How do we help them feel they are in a protected space where they can react with calm deliberation, even as we also seek to change the direction of their thinking?

      • Hello!

        I am very much looking forward to seeing you in December! It would be wonderful if we had more one on one time with our public officials, but of course if that were the norm, there would be an unfathomable number of “ones” seeking exclusive time with them. Currently trying to resist the panic about purported shortfalls in future energy supply being used by the Governor’s office and PG&E to motivate action on a snap bill being rushed through the Legislature that would promote rushed relicensing at Diablo to extend its dangerous life. Unfortunately, most of my allies in this struggle accept the note of panic and are ready to rush “renewables” into the supposedly widening breach. Have you seen Charles Eisenstein’s latest? Entitled “Inverting the Energy Paradigm,” it points out that focusing less on the source of the energy we use and more on the uses to which we put it provides a needed shift in our attention. “Most of the uses to which humanity puts its energy do not serve human welfare. Switching to ‘sustainable’ sources will not change that.” It takes slowing down, the deeeeep breath, to allow room for that realization. As Bayo Akomolafe reminds us: “The call to slow down reminds us that we do not simply act upon the world, we are the world in its ongoing action-ing.” By what means can our elected and appointed “decision-makers” be kept mindful of this reality?

        See you SOON!! Eric

  5. Hello Eve
    Thanks for sending me this. I loved reading it and I hope the 3 of you continue to find harmony in that way. Lots of love, Janet xx

  6. I certainly enjoyed your mediation “report”. Your adventure into a new form of meditation is testimony to your curiosity of how mysteries in our lives unfold and how you take advantage of opportunities to learn. I forwarded your essay/blog to my daughter in-law Emily who loves animals and is a veterinary nurse in Sydney, Australia. Thanks again Eve for sharing your life lessons. I enjoy your gift of writing of prose. Love, Barbara

  7. Chère Eve. Ca a l’air puissant et efficace.
    Est-ce toi qui est l’auteure de la page Wikipedia sur Ganesh Baba ? Je viens de la découvrir grâce à ce post. Big hugs. Christian

    • Bonsoir, Christian! Non, pas moi. C’est Peter Meyer qui a écrit la page Wikipedia. Je pense que Deniz Tekiner l’a changé une or deux fois. On peut la changer d’avantage , si tu veux. Ça va? Nous avons Kapil et Tara ici maintenant.

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