9 Lessons from Living With 2 Zen Teachers

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romeogatsby

It’s been almost two years since I invited two zen teachers to live with me and my partner.

To be precise we forced them to come with us all the way from the Czech Republic to Spain. They had to commit to stay with us forever. We committed to take care of them forever. The idea was to have two fluffy beings around. What we got is much more: two life coaches specialised in zen and meditation, two experts in the art of silence and the art of living the moment.

Yes, I’m speaking about my two cats.

Here nine lessons I learned from them. Lessons that make me wonder if the secret lies in simplicity. I am sure you’ll be able to relate to them.

Lesson #1 Unconditional Love

My cats are brothers and have been together since birth. Would you believe that they haven’t had a single argument? They don’t fight each other, are not jealous of each other, they don’t have bad days. They love each other unconditionally and accept each other just the way they are. I wish we humans could learn from this.

Lesson #2 Don’t Be Moody

People can get moody just by sitting on the sofa and thinking. Animals don’t have bad days, they don’t know what it means to be moody. When they behave differently there’s something seriously wrong. One day one of my cats looked sad. He wasn’t as cheerful as usually. I took him to the vet and it turned out he had fever.

Lesson #3 Live the Moment

One of the biggest differences between the brains of humans and other animals is that animals live in the now, whereas humans live in the now, yesterday, tomorrow and in the hypothetical “if”. What has given us a tremendous advantage in some aspects of life has become an obstacle in others. My cats don’t think about what will happen tomorrow, they don’t have yesterday’s regrets nor tomorrow’s worries. They live in the now.

Lesson #4 Enjoy the Simplest Things

As their life is quite simple and not really challenging, my cats need to find pleasure in simple things. They like simple objects more than sophisticated pet toys. They’re happy with a paper ball. Or with a pencil. When you see a cat enjoying the sunbeams or enjoying the same food again and again, you may wonder why humans struggle so much to enjoy the simplest things of life.

Lesson #5 Never Stop Playing

Animals don’t stop playing when they become adults. When they stop playing there’s something wrong – they may be sick or dying. We humans must have decided at some point in life that games are for kids. The consequence? Many of us forgot to be silly, to be creative, to see the fun in life…. which is so important for our emotional well-being.

Lesson #6 Be Curious

Cats are the most curious animals I know. Every new object in the house needs to be fully investigated. You have to observe it, touch it, smell at it, and give it a good kick so it falls down – just to see how it reacts! Whenever I have a new box at home it becomes their favourite toy for a week. They love discovering new corners and objects, trying things out and are just curious about everything. This keeps them engaged and happy.

Lesson #7 Don’t Feel Guilty

My cats don’t know what guilt means. While dogs know very well that they shouldn’t have chewed on the shoe, a cat doesn’t seem to know that. I kick them out every single time they enter the kitchen. The 347th time they entered and I saw them they didn’t seem to be bothered about it. They still throw things on the floor with the most innocent and neutral expression of “so what?”

Lesson #8 Sometimes It’s Better to Be Simple-minded

After two years I still wonder if my two hairy flatmates are stupid or just pretend to be. The fact that they don’t seem to understand what is forbidden and you can’t teach them much could mean that they’re not very intelligent. But when it comes to learning something that is beneficial for them, they get it very fast. They know where we keep the dry chicken snack they love so much. They know the time they get food and if we forget they complain. So, are they stupid or just a bit selfish? In any case it’s sometimes better to pretend you don’t understand.

Lesson #9 You Can Be Fat and Still Cute

My boys are not very slim, as the British Shorthair are naturally round. They have a hanging belly and they weigh more than most cats and small dogs. But they know that it doesn’t matter. In the animals world there are no bad feelings about your body. On the contrary, round and fluffy is cute 

 

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