To set the tone for this post, we begin with a little Zen cat humor…
A Zen cat once asked his master, “Is it OK to use email?”
“Yes,” replied the master, “But no attachments.”
We came across a wonderful new book called The Power of Meow. It’s the latest in the installment of the Dalai Lama’s Cat series where His Holiness’s Cat (“HHC”) is on a mission: to think less, to experience more, to live in the moment.
She soon learns the proper phrase for this, being mindful, or, a concept better known to her as the power of meow. What ensues is a journey to discover her own true nature, to gain a deeper understanding of her mind, and to experience life’s greatest joy, the here and now.
The author and his publicist graciously donated 5 signed copies of The Power of Meow to The Purrington Post which we raffled off to 5 lucky readers (the contest ended on Mar. 8/17 and was available only to residents of the United States and Canada).
To enter the contest each participant had to submit a comment in our “Leave a Reply” section at the bottom saying:
My cat’s name is [insert your cat’s name]. If there’s one life lesson that I learned from [insert your cat’s name] it would be that I need to… [insert your answer].
The 5 winners were chosen at random from all correct entries and contacted by email.
Enjoy the comments that our readers submitted…we certainly did!
We had the opportunity to chat with author David Michie and thought we’d start with a sneak peek at an excerpt from the first chapter of The Power of Meow…in David’s own words:
I am ashamed to have to begin this book with a confession. A revelation so embarrassing I’d much rather not be making it. Living with the Dalai Lama, surrounded by monks at Namgyal Monastery, and constantly encountering the most revered meditation masters in Tibetan Buddhism, one would assume that among my many admirable qualities I am an accomplished meditator.
Alas, dear reader, I am not!
I may be gorgeous beyond words, with my mesmerizing blue eyes, charcoal face, and sumptuous cream coat. I may be a global celebrity whose well-being is a subject of frequent inquiry by luminaries as diverse as the occupants of the Oval Office, Buckingham Palace, and the more rarefied enclaves of the Hollywood Hills.
But a natural meditator? If only!
I have tried, on several occasions. But no sooner have I settled my mind on the sensation of my breath than I find myself thinking about Mrs. Trinci’s diced chicken liver. Or the discomfort in my hind legs. Or, somehow, both of those subjects mixed up at the same time.
There is a general belief that we cats are mindful creatures, who constantly “live in the moment.” While it’s true that we can focus our minds with great intensity, especially when our hunting instincts are aroused, it is equally true that we spend much of our time thinking.
We give little outward show of this. But how many of your own thoughts are visible? And if they were, would you have any friends left, pray tell?!
If you ever doubted that your feline companion has her own inner life, just watch what happens when she falls asleep and loses conscious control of her physical being. Inevitably you will notice a twitching of limbs, a quivering of the jaw, sometimes perhaps a snuffling noise or a meow. What are these, if not the involuntary accompaniment to the imagined drama playing out in her mind? Cats may indeed be capable of great mindfulness. But we are thinking beings, too.
In my own case, unfortunately, a being who thinks rather too much.
We think his sentiments ring true with so many of us in today’s chaotic environment which is why we thought this book was so relevant and worthwhile. Following are a few questions we asked of David along with his candid answers…
Q: What inspired you to write The Power of Meow?
‘The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle is one of the best known books on mindfulness. I thought it would be helpful to offer a more playful and very accessible version written from a feline perspective.
Q: How different is it from The Dalai Lama’s Cat?
The Dalai Lama’s cat provides a general introduction not only to the Dalai Lama and his cat, but also to the ideas of Tibetan Buddhism. This book continues with our cast of favourite characters while delivering more into the benefits of mindful living.
Q: If you could distill into 5 key messages/takeaways from the book, what would they be?
Practising meditation is the very best thing we can do to manage stress, that would be one key message. It’s also the case that only through meditation can we experience our own mind for ourselves. Becoming more aware of what is happening in our own minds gives us the power to more effectively manage our thoughts and feelings, enabling us to develop greater equanimity. And we shouldn’t forget that when humans meditate, they become cat magnets!
Q: David, you had to see this question coming…do you own a cat(s)?
Yes. I have always had cats in my life – as well as many other creatures. Our two very pampered felines right now are Kahlua the Calico and Narla the Ginger Ninja.
Photo: David and Narla
Q: Were there any interesting/unusual events that occurred during the writing process?
The Dalai Lama happened to visit Perth, Australia, where I live. At a corporate lunch, in front of a room full of suited executives, someone in the audience said they had just read The Dalai Lama’s Cat and asked him a question about karma, which the book had got them thinking about. I thought it was hilarious. A lot of people assume that the Dalai Lama is intimately familiar with these books. In reality, while he knows of their existence, as an enlightened being its hardly like he needs to read about Tibetan Buddhism from me!
Q: Was the book targeted at any specific audience/demographic?…e.g. crazy cat owners?
They’re really just for anyone curious about Buddhism and/or who enjoys the distinctively quirky appeal of cats. I really wanted to write something that was fun, but offered a bit more depth – messages of personal significance, rather than just some cheesy cat book.
As it happened, only after writing the first Dalai Lama’s Cat book I discovered that, psychologically speaking, cat lovers are more interested in alternative spiritual traditions and less conventional than their dog loving peers. Which is why my most recent book about a corgi was firmly placed in the Western mainstream (The Queen’s Corgi).
Q: Why should all our readers (who didn’t win a copy) rush to their web browsers and immediately buy your book?
The Buddhist answer to that question, which immediately sprang to mind, is that they may die tomorrow, and how terrible would it be to be lying on your deathbed thinking that you had missed that final opportunity for a bit of feline enlightenment?!
But if you want a more socially palatable reason, may I suggest readers hoof it over to amazon and check out what other readers say about the book. Hopefully that may convince them to do the right thing!
Photo: David and Kahlua
Q: Do you have any new cat-themed books planned or in the creative process? (50 Shades of Feline perhaps)?
If I may give a feline answer to that question, maybe I have. Or maybe I haven’t. Depends. There are movie plans afoot – a teaser is currently being developed to show investors. Once it looks like that is well underway, I think His Holiness’s Cat (HHC) may well be encouraged to apply her velvet pads to the keyboard once again.
Q: Any final message (tidbit of wisdom) you’d like to share in closing?
Research shows that people who share their lives with cats are 40% less likely to have a stroke or heart disease than those who don’t. Why this is has yet to be scientifically established – but to me the answer is obvious. There is nothing more calming than a purring cat. That relaxing effect is contagious. And it works at a deep, psycho-physical level.
What’s more, most cats love it when we meditate. They can’t wait to join us when we make that energetic shift. It is, in a sense, our way of purring – and they pick up on it very powerfully. So, my final message would be: the best thing you can do for you, and your cat, is to meditate. Just ten minutes a day is enough to get going. Your cat will love you for it. And you’ll find you relate to your cat in a much more profound and wonderful way than you ever did before.
Image credits: Photos provided by David Michie, cartoon from joy-of-cartoon-pictures.com
David Michie is the internationally best-selling author of a number of books about mindfulness, meditation and Buddhism. These include the non-fiction titles ‘Why Mindfulness is Better than Chocolate’, ‘Hurry Up and Meditate’ and ‘Buddhism for Busy People’, as well as his popular novel series ‘The Dalai Lama’s Cat’. His books are available in 25 languages in over 40 different countries.