WESTFIELD-For individuals who find the purr of their feline friend soothing and comforting – especially in stressful times – a new book by local artist and author Dawn Allen is sure to resonate with one’s heart.
Allen’s 50-page paperback, “The Art of Meditating with Cats,” features colorful, whimsical fiber art cat portraits and more than 20 heartfelt meditations “for all humans” to enjoy.
“I created this book to celebrate cats in every way, visually with delightful cat portraits and with meditations to encourage people to deepen their connections with the cats they already adore,” she said.
Allen said she has found more people are now turning to their cats for comfort during this stressful and isolating time of a global pandemic.
“Joyful, inspiring books are needed now, and ‘The Art of Meditating with Cats’ is just that,” she added.
Allen has been an animal communicator for 22 years, consulting with more than 7,500 clients. For the past five years, she has also been developing an art business that features a “unique mixed-media method” combining digital illustration and thread painting.
“As an animal communicator I connect with animals telepathically to help people better understand what their animals are thinking,” said Allen, noting that those meditations over the years gave her insight into what people and cats need from each other.
“Then I considered what I enjoy most when meditating with my own cats – Henry and Owen – and added in those meditations,” said Allen.
Allen describes Henry as “very snuggly,” and “loves to be on our laps purring,” while Owen is physically big and can be a “bit naughty” but is actually “very tender and sensitive.” In addition to Henry and Owen, the Allen family also treasure their horse and two donkeys.
“When I find myself with one of my cats, I take the time to enjoy their company,” said Allen. “My book reflects this relaxed approach. It is a lighthearted, easy, fun way of meditating.”
Allen noted that Henry and Owen are particularly partial to the living room furniture when cuddling and connecting with family members.
“A couch session is always welcome,” said Allen. “I find it best not to take yourself too seriously with cats – they have a way of humbling us.”
There are 21 meditations in the book – ranging from titles including “In the Moment,” “Cat Wisdom,” and “Spirit Cat,” to “Peace and Sanity” – so there is something for every kind of person and cat, according to Allen.
“There is a really fun ‘play’ meditation which kittens would love,” she said.
Allen had an aha moment last fall when she was exhibiting her work at the Paradise City Arts Festival in Northampton.
“I was trying to find my niche in the art world and I was floundering a little bit,” she said, adding that during the fall festival, her cat portraits were the “most popular” among attendees. After the event she realized how important her cat portraits were to her too and decided to create a cat project.
“The art came first but many hours of cuddling Henry on the couch helped me realize meditating with cats is very healing for me so maybe others would enjoy it too,” said Allen.
The book offers the calming benefits of meditation and enhances the already close bond people have with their cats. Each uplifting meditation includes a fun, colorful illustration of a cat and simple instructions for different meditation themes and techniques.
“Meditating with your cat is also an opportunity to send focused messages to your cat to help them better understand you,” writes Allen in her book. “You will be able to let them know how you feel and what your intentions are in a way in which they can really ‘hear’ you. Your cat will most likely love meditating with you.”
Allen said most importantly, “go with the flow” and follow your cat’s lead.
“Remember, it is not possible for your cat to distract your meditation when, in fact, they are leading your meditation,” she said.
While some people may feel intimidated by the idea of meditating, Allen notes that some people may need only two minutes of relaxation with their feline friend while others may choose to take up to 45 minutes of calm contemplation.
“The quality of your meditation and your cat’s experience is not conditioned on how much time you spend meditating,” she said. “The length of your meditation depends on how you feel and your goals. Your cat might leave the meditation; you may choose to continue or quit when they walk away.”
“This may sound melodramatic but I really can’t imagine living without a cat,” said Allen. “My whole life I have had wonderful cats who really carried me through hard times. I had a surgery this year, lost a family member, and of course the stress of COVID-19, and I really relied on my cats as a source of comfort and joy. I don’t just lean on my cats; they know they can lean on me too. They are very well loved.”