If you haven’t met Zara yet, she’s my cat and my healing partner. She’s been with me for nine years and unless I took pictures of her, no one knew she existed until Walter. Then she decided he was good enough to allow into the inner circle. Zara has taught me much and recently Walter and I were talking about how she has clear boundaries.
Have you noticed that cats know when they want to be touched and when they don’t? Zara is super clear about that. She will come to one of us to allow us to take care of her touch needs and when she’s done, she leaves. She doesn’t make any fuss about it. She doesn’t tell us “I’ve had enough” by hissing or nipping. She just walks away. Boom. Done.
I never thought about this as boundary setting but when Walter and I were talking about it he shared that he learned not to take this personally. In fact, he said, we have much to learn from cats. Seriously, think about it. They don’t feel bad when they walk way and move on. They don’t say “but what about my human who wants to pet me more?” Nope. They just walk away.
She’s also clear she does not want to be picked up. Oh, how I miss a cat that loves to be swooped up and cuddled. That’s not Zara. If I attempt to pick her up (and I do at times to keep socializing her to it) she let’s me know when she’s had enough. When I first started this, she would physically fight and almost arch her back to get away. We are at the point now where I can hold her for about 15-20 seconds (and once I even heard her purr)! I let her go when she’s ready. She used to run into the other room. Now, she jumps down and turns around to be pet some more. I keep doing this because getting her into a cage to move her or go to the vet is one of the most stressful things for both of us.
Let’s talk about humans though. They don’t have claws and they have that human condition called “pleasing others” so they often allow for touch they don’t want. So, when they say that they don’t like to be touched or they don’t like to hug, I think it’s imperative that we honor that. Doing anything else is bullying. If you are someone who doesn’t like hugs or being touched, it’s time to stop giving a shit about what others think. Tell people you don’t like it. Then, if they go in for the hug, hold up your hand as if to signal “back off”. You have a right to set up body boundaries and for some, this would be a first step. For all us touchers out there, it’s time to listen!
PS- all of you non touchers, who want reiki healing, it can be a hands off healing.