Kids and Cats

Children and animals: our quintessential paragons for living life now

 

​Yes, we adult humans (that distinct aspect of being an adult starting to develop as young as four years old) have an important capacity that kids and cats don't have (at least not as much). We adults have the ability to bind time. We are able to live in the past (and learn from the past), projecting and creating into the future in ways that far exceed the capacities of young children and most especially of animals.

The price we paid

Yet, in our eagerness to master taking hold of our future and to create good, long-term relationships with others, we criminalized our childlike and animal-like ways of being and expressing, spawning our own private and rebellious underworld (as well as that in the world outside ourselves). Like the mafia and the cosa nostra, this underworld only gets stronger as we continually and increasingly criminalize it within ourselves. Its tentacles reach deep into every facet of our life, polluting the "good" person we are trying to be. And life becomes hard. (Private note: when watching the TV series "Chicago PD," I noticed that the lead character Hank Voight often characterizes the criminals as "animals.")

We engage in the act of internal criminalization to feel safer

Having gained the abilities to imagine the different futures that could play out, far more than children and animals can do, we become more and more aware of how things might occur differently than the ways we want them to or intend for them to be. So we learn ways to deal with this unrelenting fear and sense of risk. First we learn to resist our fear, turning it into dufear. Resisting fear, criminalizing fear, has consequences, consequences that create suffering. Sometimes these consequences still exhibit some of the original nature of fear. But more often dufear hides itself. 

Feelings and behaviors created by dufear, which still show some vestiges of fear

  • Anxiety

  • Jealousy

  • Nervousness

  • Shyness

  • Worry

Feelings and behaviors that are created or contributed to by dufear, but hide their origin

  • Allowing others to control you

  • Attachment to someone or something

  • Attachment to using pejorative words, or even sometimes to laudative words

  • Avoiding something or avoiding to think or talk about something

  • Blame and criticism of others

  • Busyness

  • Comparing yourself negatively to others

  • Complaining

  • Defensiveness

  • Depression

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Doubt

  • Carefulness

  • Embarrassment

  • Envy

  • Exhaustion

  • Feeling pressured

  • Feeling overwhelmed

  • Feeling behind on things

  • Feeling not good enough

  • Feeling not smart enough

  • Guilt, regret

  • Indecisiveness

  • Irritability

  • Lack of ability to enjoy solitude

  • Lack of confidence

  • Lack of connection with others

  • Lack of curiosity

  • Loneliness

  • Perfectionism

  • Procrastination

  • Not making requests of others; not asking for what you want

  • Not saying "no" to others when you need to say "no"

  • Not saying "yes" to others when you'd like to say "yes"

  • Not setting and maintaining good boundaries with others in order to take care of yourself

  • Seeing yourself or others as a victim

  • Self-criticism

  • Seriousness

  • Shoulding (believing things or others should or should not be a certain way)

  • Tolerating something

  • Trying to control or dominate others

  • Trying to improve

  • Trying to prove something (like "that you're good enough" or that "you're a good guy")

  • Wearing a mask (not sharing more openly)

Resources to re-own your "kid and cat"

In one way or another, every link in this site is devoted to supporting this re-owning of our disowned kid-and-cat (or kid-and-dog, if you prefer). The roles of our Now and our Oneself (the child or animal) can be thought of as the main ways I am embodying these fundamental human needs.

Below, however, are four additional approaches to focus more directly at re-owning these essential parts of ourselves without using the Now and Oneself constructs.

Screaming (first approach)

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Until children are taught not to, they get great relief and even joy from screaming.

 

One of my daily practices is to scream (as loudly as possible without damaging my throat and using only one breath) for 20 seconds or more three times each day. My record so far is 50 seconds of screaming in one breath. I take several deep breaths to start with and then finish the full 20 seconds or more without another breath. Feels great! Everyone else that I’ve led through this simple practice reports feeling better. (Note: whenever I scream I go into the room in my apartment which is furthest from possibly disturbing a neighbor. There was still one neighbor I was concerned about. I knocked on her door, told her what I was doing, and asked her to call me if she ever felt disturbed—so far, no call.

 

“Time engraves our faces with all the tears we have not shed.” -Natalie Clifford Barney (Poet, playwright, and novelist, 1876-1972) 

Hear me scream (note: in this demonstration, I do take more than one breath)

Collateral benefit: great for your health by expanding your lungs and encouraging belly breathing

Enchanting (second approach)

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Here’s how to change any feeling or mood!

 

Do you ever get stuck in feelings of:

 

  • animosity, 

  • anxiety, 

  • arrogance, 

  • bitchiness, 

  • bitterness, 

  • boredom, 

  • callousness, 

  • crankiness, 

  • cynicism, 

  • defensiveness, 

  • depression, 

  • envy, 

  • guilt, 

  • hatred, 

  • impatience, 

  • indecisiveness, 

  • inflexibility, 

  • ingratitude, 

  • jealousy, 

  • laziness, 

  • obsessiveness, 

  • overwhelm, 

  • perfectionism, 

  • petulance, 

  • procrastination, 

  • rebelliousness, 

  • resentment, 

  • resignation, 

  • righteousness, 

  • rudeness, 

  • self-consciousness, 

  • shame, 

  • stress, or 

  • stubbornness?

Do you find yourself stuck being: 

 

  • over-protective or over-controlling, 

  • being too critical of yourself or others, 

  • blaming others, 

  • complaining, 

  • feeling betrayed, 

  • feeling dispirited, 

  • feeling disrespected, 

  • feeling foolish, 

  • feeling like a victim, 

  • feeling unloved, 

  • showing disrespect, 

  • lacking self-confidence or self-esteem, 

  • lying, 

  • nagging, 

  • suppressing yourself, or 

  • worrying?

 

Most of us get stuck in one or more of these feelings, moods, or thought/behavior patterns fairly often. Sometimes, they pass quickly. Sometimes, they stick around much longer than we’d like, even becoming a chronic part of our life. I have discovered a simple, easy technique that will help you dissolve most unwanted feelings or moods.

 

I call this technique “enchanting.”

 

Let me tell you how I discovered it. (If you want to go straight to the description of the technique, feel free to skip over the following example.)

 

On Valentine’s Day 1994, I was lying on my bed at 2:30 in the afternoon. I was depressed. I had been depressed for over two months. I was barely getting by in my work. (I worked at home for myself, so it was easier for me to hide my condition than it would be for most people.)

 

The only things I wanted to do were eat, watch TV, and sleep. Everything else occurred to me as an overwhelming burden. Every time I would think of something I needed to do, my automatic response was, “So what? It’s all pointless anyway.”

 

I had had bouts of depression before, but never one as long or severe as this one. I was seriously concerned.

 

I started praying to (my) God to show me something I was willing to do that would move me out of my depression.

 

Then, from my intuition, I started “enchanting” (see explanation below). I enchanted for three hours straight: the first hour while lying in my bed, the second and third hours while walking along the canal bank (in Phoenix, Arizona). I would tone it down when I would pass people so they wouldn’t think I was crazy.

 

At the end of those three hours I was on cloud nine. I was feeling great! My mood was great! The circumstances of my life were exactly as before. But, instead of feeling burdened and overwhelmed, I felt fully resourceful and excited about my life and its possibilities!

 

Since that day, I have had no significant bouts of depression. Whenever I begin to feel depression (or any other undesired feeling), I enchant.

 

I have also shared this technique with hundreds of clients.

The feedback ranged from, “It’s a very powerful stress releaser” to “The results were miraculous!”

 

Here’s a description of enchanting.

 

Enchanting gently focuses on the deep mood and feelings of a particular moment, allowing these feelings to resonate and bubble out into extemporaneous sounds/chanting. These sounds are spontaneous, nonsensical, and non-conceptual. The wrong way to do this is to try to do it right. There are no right sounds. The experience is one of ease and effortlessness, although you may feel a bit embarrassed or silly. Allow your feelings to lead the chanting to lead you.

 

Where do I enchant? Enchanting is done privately. For many people, the best place is their car, where they can allow themselves to really belt it out. Other good places are your house or apartment.

 

Enchant for as long as possible. An hour or more is very good. Enchant until your mood or feeling changes for the better.

 

What can I expect from enchanting?

 

At the very least, enchanting provides an immediate release of tension. Fundamentally, enchanting is a generic de-repressor, dissolving our resistance to ourselves and to our lives, allowing our true joy and aliveness (which is always underneath the calcified shell of our protection) to bubble forth. The more you enchant, the more you will wake up to the natural joy of being alive.

 

Why does enchanting work?

 

Consider this question: as a group, who are the most joyous, energetic, alive, present, creative, and curious people on earth? Answer: young children. And what do young children (typically those under five years old) consistently do that we adults don’t do? Children freely and immediately express in sounds

(often non-word sounds), with no censorship and with nothing held back, exactly what they are feeling when they are feeling it.

 

When a child cries, the child does not think, “My mother might not love me or take care of me if I continue to cry.” When a child squeals and/or babbles with delight, sometimes for hours, the child does not think, “They might decide I’m not a serious person if I’m too noisy.” But at a certain point, a child starts to become a mini-adult, and that is the point when the child begins to learn that certain verbal expressions are not acceptable. In fact, one way to make a child act like a sullen adult faster is to give the child strong, consistent messages that certain verbal expressions of pain, fear, anger, joy, and/or pleasure will not be tolerated and/or will be frowned upon.

 

As adults we have no outlet to verbally express our feelings in any way that begins to approximate the outlet that children have. Even so-called outlets such as singing do not fit the bill, since when we sing, we have to do it “the right way.” Imagine the effects of trying to get a child to squeal “the right way.”

 

Enchanting offers the first easy-to-do methodology to express our feelings (without having to put words to them). It can usually be tailored to require no additional time. For most of us, it can be combined with other activities such as walking, jogging, housecleaning, driving, etc.

 

Unlike meditation mantras or Buddhist chants, it allows/includes full flexibility and encouragement for the emanating sounds to flow freely and to be full expressions of the feelings/moods of the moment, just as the sounds that a child makes are full, unedited expressions of that child.

 

How is enchanting distinct from other change-your-attitude techniques?

 

Has the average happy child learned how to focus his or her mind and think positively? No. Does the average joyous child hear and/or read uplifting stories to inspire him or her during a bad day? No. Does the average happy child meditate or engage in stress reduction techniques? No. Does the average creative child spend hours in front of the TV to distract himself or herself from life’s concerns? No.

 

Most of the ancient and modern-day techniques and approaches that adults use to attempt to manage our feelings (over the top of our calcified protections) are just that: an attempt at management on top of a calcification that prevents us from experiencing our innate joy, energy, and happiness.

 

Enchanting dissolves the years of calcification, allowing us to spontaneously feel and express our birthright of joy, energy, happiness, aliveness, and creativity.   

 

Here are some words that suggest the full range and expression of enchanting:

 

baaing, babbling, bantering, barking, baying, bellowing, bewailing, bleating, booing, bubbling, cackling, chanting, cheeping, cheering, clucking, cooing, croaking, crooning, crying, displaying, exclaiming, expressing, groaning, growling, grumbling, gurgling, harping, heehawing, hissing, honking, hooting, howling, humming, intoning, jabbering, laughing, mewing, moaning, murmuring, muttering, neighing, non-conceptual verbalizing, making nonsense sounds, parroting, peeping, prattling, praying, preaching, purring, quacking, ranting, raving, razzing, resonating, rhyming, roaring, sassing, scolding, screaming, screeching, shouting, shrieking, singing, snarling, sobbing, sounding, speaking, squawking, squealing, stammering, stuttering, susurrating, talking, taunting, teasing, telling, toning, tweeting, ululating, uttering, verbalizing, voicing, vowing, wailing, warbling, whimpering, whining, whispering, yakking, yelling, yelping, yodeling, yowling.

 

Think of the maxim, “If I can’t, then enchant” to remind you of this powerful tool. For many, it is a choice of courage to enchant. Honor yourself for that choice.

Hear me enchanting for 28 seconds (as if I were depressed)

Right now is always okay (third approach)

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Let go of your future. Imagine you don’t know there will be your future. Let go of your past. Imagine that you had no past. Take this moment to return to that time before time, the time before you knew that there was time...just like a cat, a dog, or a very young child.

 

Just be here now...

 

You worry about your future. Will this happen? Will that not happen? You play the movie of your projected future again and again, guessing what it may or may not be, concerned about whether it will be okay when it comes? Yet what you easily miss is the fact that, if you weren’t unhappily dwelling in your future, then right now is always okay. There has never been a time in your life when the now of that moment would have not been okay if you hadn’t been polluting it with worries about your future. 

 

Whenever your now is not okay, it’s only because you’ve traded a “not okay now” for a hopefully “okay future now.” You’ve traded the certainty of what you could have now (if you were only in this now) for the uncertainty of some future now being better. But, since this is your habit, even when that future now comes, you’ll trade that one off too for another future now. 

 

Yes, it can be fun (in the now) to play the game of the future. You, as a human, can do that while other animals cannot. If you play this game without expectations, it will enrich your now. You will love the game of time, the game of life. But if you continue in the habit of indulging in worries and expectations, then the game loses its real joy because you’re often overlaying the natural happiness of each moment, natural okayness of each moment, with your concerns about some future moments, indulging in a no-win trade with yourself.


Whenever you notice that you’re doing this, bring yourself back to now. Let go of your future. Imagine you don’t know there will be your future. Let go of your past. Imagine that you had no past. Take this moment to return to that time before time, the time before you knew that there was time...everything is always okay right now.

 

Just be here now.

Kyle Cease expresses it well in this video:

The lost art of doing nothing (fourth approach)

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Doing nothing is doing much less than you think it is

 

  • Waiting for something to happen is not doing nothing.

  • Waiting for something to be over is not doing nothing.

  • Worrying is not doing nothing.

  • Watching or noticing or witnessing is not doing nothing.

  • Feeling bored is not doing nothing.

  • Hoping you will fall off to sleep soon is not doing nothing.

  • Watching a TV or a movie is not doing nothing.

  • Thinking about what to do next is not doing nothing.

  • Daydreaming is not doing nothing.

  • Meditating is not doing nothing.

  • Sleeping is not doing nothing.

  • If you try to do nothing, you’re not doing nothing.

My cat Princess is a master of doing nothing

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She can be totally happy and content doing nothing. We humans, however, believe we should always be doing something. We rarely consider the idea of doing nothing. It might even occur as an “immoral” waste of time to do nothing. Or we think we would be bored if we were doing nothing, which is not true since being bored is doing something. And how could we do nothing anyway? If we tried to do nothing, we would be doing something. 

You can’t do nothing

 

In fact, to “do nothing” is a contradiction. It’s similar to “doing sleep” or trying to make yourself sleep. If you could do nothing, that would be doing something. Nevertheless, you can create the circumstances where you may notice (afterwards) that you were not doing anything for a period of time.

 

The only way that I have found that I can fall into “doing nothing” is like this

 

I set aside a block of time where it’s okay to do nothing (say 45 minutes). I set an alarm so I can forget about keeping track of the time. I ensure that I will be uninterrupted and in a quiet space. I complete with anything that I need to do or should be done. I sit comfortably.

 

I give myself the silent suggestion, “Do nothing.” My mind does whatever. Later I will notice if I did something or did nothing. When I notice this (which is doing something), then I will gently suggest again, “Do nothing.” If I think of something I should do later, I allow myself to write it down, and then return to the suggestion, “Do nothing.” My mind does whatever. Later I will notice if I did something or did nothing…

Since "doing nothing" is the easiest thing "to do" in the world, why is it so "hard" to do?

The culture and ethics of the world prioritizes results over process (and over enjoying the process). Our "inability" to do nothing is symptomatic of this prioritization. Almost all of us have that thought in the background that's ready to surface should we forget this priority: "I shouldn't be wasting this time."

The other world of doing nothing

Animals (and young babies) have the natural ability to bask in doing nothing. We adult humans, however, having created our identity from our Next, have abandoned and forgotten this long lost world of bliss. Rediscovering this world, re-nurturing this world can be an integral part of creating Now-Next Integrity.

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