Welcome to the book blog of writer and creative writing tutor, Diane Paul.

Thanks to the publishers and kind PR people who send me books and releases about their clients' books for review. Press releases and review copies of fiction and non-fiction are always welcome. (No sci-fi, fantasy or erotica please.)

Due to the barrage of requests from self-published authors for reviews, I'm unable to deal with them all, although I'm sometimes drawn to non-fiction for the subject matter. And because I love print books, the smell, the touch of the paper and the sight of the words, I don't have an electronic reader or review e-books.

E-mail to: bookblogforbookworms@keywordeditorial.com for the postal address.

My writing website: http://www.keywordeditorial.com/

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Lessons in Living from a Feline Zen Master

If you think my relationship with Harry the Cat is a little bizarre, it's boringly normal compared to Kat Tansey's Choosing To Be, where she explains how she discovered her cat was actually a Buddhist Zen Master. Through hearing and intuition, Kat communicates with her pet, a beautiful Maine Coon cat called Poohbear Degoonacoon. And in this day of new discoveries and spiritual awakenings, who's to say that she doesn't. Harry the Cat and I have jokey conversations but he always responds to my comments with grunty noises and I think if he had a voicebox he'd be able to express himself properly. He almost always does what I ask of him as though he understands everything I say and when I ask where the birds are his head goes back and he looks straight up into the sky; he makes my piano students laugh when he barges through his door shouting 'hello' at the top of his voice.

So maybe it's not as mad as it sounds. Eckhart Tolle, author of the best-selling Power of Now says, 'I have lived with several Zen masters - all of them cats.' Kat, an American writer, was felled by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome in 1993 and found herself in the depths of a suicidal depression. She'd spent the previous 20 years following a high-pressure career in change management when she suffered burn out. How she regained her physical, emotional and spiritual health is described in her book and we follow her journey based on Poohbear's advice according to Buddhist teachings. He tells her to get a kitten and little Catzenbear joins the family. Observing cats in action or even sleeping is a lesson in itself. I learnt the art of perseverance from mine. Never give up, no matter how loud the 'no' becomes. Don't take the shouts personally. They always give in in the end and give you what you want just to get rid of you. But I digress.

Kat Tansey
Poohbear advises meditation and Kat learns how to practise Insight Meditation at a Buddhist meditation centre, which 'helps develop concentrated awareness and gain insight into the changing nature of the mind'. She learns to let her thoughts come and go and to observe them and reflect back on them after they've passed; how to focus on the still points on the body to become more grounded and get rid of the mind chatter. She begins to move forwards with her experiences, each step monitored by Poohbear, until she allows herself to unblock her frozen feelings and respond, first to joy, then to other emotions. 'My dog doesn't worry about the meaning of life. She may worry if she doesn't get breakfast but she doesn't sit around worrying about whether she will get fulfilled or liberated or enlightened,' says Charlotte Beck in Everyday Zen. Animals just are; they do what they do without analysing every movement. They live in the moment; they don't wallow in past hurts or disasters, nor do they worry about the 'whaf if?' of the future, like humans do. These are chains and living in the Now gives us freedom to appreciate our lives and the world around us. Kat Tansey learned to let go of her thoughts and gradually began to live a more peaceful, happy life. With each setback in her meditation, she became ready to take the next step and to see it as an opportunity. She freed herself from what the Buddhists term 'ordinary mind'  - 'a mind hindered by clinging, anger, sleepiness, restlessness and doubt' - the Five Hindrances she conquers with the help of her feline Zen Master.

Julie Lines from Voice of the Animals

Jean Davies from Whiskers Pet Care
For anyone who would like to enjoy a better relationship with their pets, Jean Davies, who runs Whiskers Pet Care in Manchester, http://www.whiskers-petcare.co.uk/ is running 'playshops' in animal communication. She spends most of her time with animals as she looks after people's pets for them when they're away from home. '...I spend a great deal of my time communicating with animals,' she says. 'There are lots of ways that we do this, including verbally, through body language and intuitively. We all have the ability to communicate intuitively, albeit rather dormant in many people, but this is so easy to re-learn.' She co-facilitates the 'playshop' with Julie Lines of Voice of the Animals, http://voiceoftheanimals.org.uk/  on 27/28 November in Manchester. 
Contact Jean Davies for more information at jean@whiskerspetcare.co.uk

Choosing To Be - Lessons in Living from a Feline Zen Master by Kat Tansey is published by Findhorn Press. Kat is an award-winning author of creative non-fiction books on topics that arrive in her life demanding her attention. She lives on the west coast of America. http://www.choosingtobe.com/

Catzenbear, Poohbear's muse


Jean said...

That's lovely Diane, and mirrors so many of the lessons I've learnt from our cat teachers. Amazing and magical animals.
Also, many thanks for letting people know about the Animal Communication Playshops that Julie is running. We would love to have you all along, but there's only room for 15, so hurry!! I'm thrilled and honoured that Julie has asked me to come and co-facilitate the Manchester one with her, and I'm looking forward to it so much.

If you'd like to see some of my stories of animal communication (and other subjects too), you are very welcome to have a look at my blog: http://www.whiskerspetcare.blogspot.com

Caren Gittleman said...

what an incredibly lovely review! I will have to check this book out, the topic greatly interests me.
I am now one of your newest followers and am so pleased to meet you!
Your beloved Daisy was a gorgeous girl, I am so deeply sorry.

Cat Chat http://opcatchat.blogspot.com

diane said...

Thanks so much Jean and Caren for your kind responses. It's so nice to know there are caring people out there who appreciate the finer qualities of our furry friends. You are both very welcome as Friends but I am having problems with the Friends section at the moment, along with many other people and nothing is showing (but I know you're there!)

Kat Tansey said...

Thank you for taking the time to write about Choosing to Be, Diane. So many Feline Zen Masters out there -- I'm glad you have been fortunate enough to learn from some of them...

I love the collection of pictures on your blog -- a very rich display which has me wanting to get to know you -- if only I lived in England.

I too am a big fan of Shakespeare's. I went there every day when I was in Paris many years ago to spend time with the ghosts of Sylvia Beach, James Joyce, and all those authors I adored in my college days.

Please give my regards to Harry the Cat. And again, thanks for sharing your thoughts about Choosing to Be.