Eric Maisel is a therapist and creativity coach of some note. His most recent book, Ten Zen Seconds, is a lovely tool for relaxing...quickly.
The technique is elegantly simple: Maisel suggests we repeat a brief phrase ("I expect nothing" or "I am completely stopping" with a long deep breath, in and out) to get us to focus on what's going on right now...and relax. It works; it got me through my taxes this year (and then I promptly left it at my tax guys....hope it is helping a lot of people). You can practice some of the techniques here.
Maisel also admits that he could have used his own technique to notice that...he had fat pets. He was honest and kind enough to talk to me, via e-mail, about what Ten Zen Seconds has to say to pet owners...and he finally reveals whether pets meditate!
Martha Garvey: How do you think pet owners can use Ten Zen Seconds in relation to their pets?
Eric Maisel : There was a time not so long ago when we had four cats. As any pet owner knows, sometimes we were more mindful of their needs and sometimes we were less mindful of their needs. Two of the cats became quite plump—okay, fat—because we didn’t really slow down enough to pay attention to what washappening to them.
Of course we saw that they had gotten big—okay, enormous—but seeing
and “really” seeing are two different things. I think that the
mindfulness program that Ten Zen Seconds teaches helps us notice what’s
going on around us in an immediate and effortless way, so that we know
“without having to
think about it” what we need, what our mate needs, what our children need—and what our pets need. Everyday mindfulness makes us effortlessly more responsible.
MG: You include a lovely anecdote in your book about a vet who used "Ten Zen Seconds" to enrich his work. Would you talk a little about that?
EM: The vet you mention had a love of animals and a thriving practice, but he found himself so busy and so harried by his own success—with an animal in front of him and two more waiting in the adjoining exam rooms at alltimes—that he was getting no pleasure out of what he loved.
Using the Ten Zen Seconds method and especially the first incantation, “I am completely stopping,” he trained himself to be more in the moment, less frantic and less pressured, and more open to the joy that helping, healing,and just being around animals had always provided.
MG: Do you think dogs or cats meditate? If not, what the heck do you think they're doing when they stare into space?
EM: I think they are trying to decide if what we are feeding
them measures up to their high standards. I think they are also
dreaming about forests, fields, and meadows—and how they would like to
be carried there on a fluffy pillow by their well-trained masters. And
of course they are
meditating—haven’t they all been trained by the Dolly Llama?