When my husband and I got married, it didn’t just change our lives. It changed the lives of our cats.
Waddles had lived with just me for three and a half years. My husband had two cats, Thunder Cat and Sam.
It was not love at first sight when Wa met TC and Sam. It usually isn’t with cats.
They hissed, growled and made other sounds I had never heard. Wa was normally very calm. She hissed more in those first few months in our new home than she had in the years we had lived together.
We did everything the experts say to do when introducing cats: allow them to see each other, but not get to each other. Give them treats when they are together without arguing, thereby rewarding calm behavior. Spray pheromones around the room.
What really worked was time. They had to learn to live with each other, and they had to do it on their timetable.
During the hard times, I put one of Wa’s beds underneath one of the windows in the master bedroom. That way we could keep a protective eye on her.
Eventually, I added a covered bed for her. She loved that space and spent a lot of time there even when peace finally settled on the household. She moved around the house, playing and lounging around. But her place in the bedroom seemed to be her home base.
TC and Sam never bothered Wa when she was there, and they never tried to take it over. It was Wa’s safe space.
Now the space is empty. After Wa died, we took up the beds. We picked up her special blanket and her favorite toys, which still sit on the dresser where we can see them.
When I decided that I wanted to commit to meditating on a regular basis, I wondered where I would do it. I wanted a space in the house where it would be quiet and where I knew I could always go to be still.
I decided to use Wa’s space. I sit on the floor looking out over the bedroom like Wa did. I stare at my candle (battery-powered, of course). Then I close my eyes and listen.
It’s difficult for me to use breathing as a way to center myself. I don’t know if it’s because I have asthma or if OCD makes me think too much about breathing. But I feel out of breath when I try.
Chanting or saying words out loud is also a problem. I feel out of breath or I get into a mindless mode instead of a mindful mode.
So I listen. I listen to the sounds around me: the tick of the clocks, the creaks of the house, the soft puff of the ceiling fan, a train passing through town a mile away. I imagine that my ears are stretching out and turning, like a cat’s.
I practice letting my thoughts go, and I picture them swirling into a globe and spinning around there. I try to watch myself. I try to be here right now.
And I share a safe space with my Wa in spirit.
I have written before about mandalas, and how coloring them, and then creating my own, comforted me during a hard time and continue to comfort me.
The mandala pictured with this post is one that I created to illustrate my meditation, my safe space.
Do you have a safe space? Is it an actual place, or is it a place you go to in your mind? What makes a space safe for you?