When we think of meditation, we often picture a human being sitting still, with their eyes closed, practicing mindfulness. But have you ever caught your cat looking completely at peace, with a stillness in their movements that seems almost meditative? It may seem like a stretch to assume that cats meditate, but there are some fascinating studies and observations that suggest our feline friends do have a natural inclination towards Zen-like states. In this article, we’ll explore the evidence for cats meditating, what it looks like when they do, and what we can learn from their natural mindfulness practices.
The Science of Feline Brain Waves
One of the most convincing pieces of evidence for cats meditating comes from research on their brain waves. In humans, brain waves slow down during meditation, typically moving from the beta waves associated with alertness to the alpha or theta waves associated with relaxation and meditation. Interestingly, cats have been found to naturally produce alpha waves in their brains during periods of relaxation, even when they’re not necessarily sleeping. This suggests that their brains have a natural inclination towards meditative states, and that when they’re lounging or grooming themselves, they may be engaging in a form of feline meditation.
The Buddha Blink
Another clue that cats may be meditating comes from their unique blinking patterns. If you’ve ever seen a cat slowly close and open their eyes, with a far-off, calm look in their gaze, you may have witnessed what some call the “Buddha Blink”. This type of blinking is often associated with relaxation and a sense of inner peace. It’s a way for cats to signal to themselves and others that they are at ease and not in a state of vigilance or stress. In fact, some cat behavior experts suggest that we can emulate the Buddha Blink ourselves, as a way to ground ourselves in the present moment and cultivate a sense of calm.
Cats and Mindfulness: What We Can Learn
So what can we learn from our cat’s inclination towards relaxation, presence, and peacefulness? For one, we can observe how they prioritize rest and self-care, taking long naps or grooming themselves for hours on end. We can also notice how they maintain a sense of curiosity and playfulness in their everyday lives, taking pleasure in simple activities like batting at a toy or watching birds out the window. By adopting some of these cat-like habits, we may be able to cultivate a greater sense of mindfulness and present-moment awareness in our own lives.
The Joy of Simple Pleasures
Cats are masters at finding joy in the simplest of pleasures. Whether it’s the crinkling of a paper bag or the warmth of a sunbeam on the carpet, they take simple pleasures for what they are, without judgment or expectation. By learning to appreciate the small things in our own lives, we can tap into a sense of gratitude and contentment that can help us navigate stressful situations with greater ease.
The Art of Purring
Finally, one of the most fascinating aspects of cat mindfulness is their use of purring as a self-soothing mechanism. Studies have shown that the vibrations of a cat’s purr can have a calming effect on both the cat and the humans around them. By harnessing our own forms of self-soothing, whether it’s through meditation, deep breathing, or other relaxation techniques, we can learn to better cope with stress and anxiety.
Conclusion: Do Cats Meditate?
At the end of the day, the question of whether cats meditate may be less important than what we can learn from their natural tendencies towards relaxation, presence, and mindfulness. By observing our feline friends’ behavior and attitudes, we can gain insight into how to live more mindfully in our own lives. Whether it’s through taking time for rest and self-care, finding joy in simple pleasures, or cultivating our own forms of self-soothing, we can all benefit from embracing our inner ‘catness’. Who knows, maybe we’ll start blinking like Buddhas and purring our way to inner peace.
Most Common Questions about Cats and Meditation Answered
Do cats really meditate?
- While it may not be the exact same thing as human meditation, there is evidence to suggest that cats have a natural inclination towards Zen-like states. This can be observed in their brain waves, blinking patterns, and general demeanor when they are in relaxed states.
Do cats need to meditate?
- Cats do not necessarily need to meditate in the same way that humans do, but they do benefit from rest and relaxation, which can be thought of as a form of feline meditation.
How can I help my cat meditate?
- Cats are already experts at resting and self-care, so there is likely no need to actively encourage them to meditate. However, providing a calm and quiet environment, as well as plenty of toys and opportunities for play, can help them feel more at ease and foster a sense of peace.
Can I meditate with my cat?
- While it’s not necessary to meditate with your cat, some people find that practicing mindfulness or relaxation techniques in their cat’s presence can help them feel more calm and centered.
Jansen, J. G. (1958). “Electroencephalography in the cat during waking, sleeping, and anesthesia”. Archives Neerlandaise de Physiologie de l’Homme et des Animaux, 13, 297–309
Turner, D. C., & Bateson, P. (2018). The Domestic Cat: The Biology of its Behaviour. Cambridge University Press.
Werber, M. (2018). Mind your cat: How to be your cat’s best friend. Lulu Press, Inc.