The tiger purrs when he sees me. He is stretching out in the sun and feeling retrospective. Curling up next to him is second nature. With my head resting against his warm belly, he explains how his whole existence has been about exploring power and powerlessness up until now.
I close my eyes. How intoxicating it is to have a conversation with him. I am enamored with his voice. Who wouldn't be? The unheard, low-pitched infrasound of his roar can travel long distances – permeating buildings, cutting through dense forests, and even passing through mountains. It doesn't matter that I can't hear frequencies that low. I can still feel them. He speaks softly, giving me a chance to overcome my natural response.
I know he can paralyze even the most experienced tiger trainer with a roar, but I'm trying not anticipate that outcome because some stress hormones don't know when to quit pulling. They remain active in the brain for too long – injuring and even killing cells in the hippocampus, the area of your brain needed for memory and learning. That's why it requires conscious effort to initiate a relaxation response and reestablish metabolic equilibrium. I gain enough power to meet him where he is by not allowing my attention to fragment. That's a skill I learned by meditating.
Humans don't reach deeper understandings by avoiding deep connections. Taking on problems that seem too heavy to hold, much less change, are the key to transformation. Their density is what gives them power. For instance, knowing that tigers are facing extinction isn't enough to get my attention, but witnessing story after story about how they are treated in the wild gives me the energy to strive and stretch further than I think I can. Being willing to see a tiger's point of view is the price I pay to take this trip, but here's the payoff. That openness to change is what empowers a person. It provides a raison d'etre.
Imagination is the alchemy that turns intensity into opportunity. Seeing how far I am willing to follow him opens many doors between us. He rewards me with a taste of real power as we sit together. See that look in his eye? That's timelessness. He's daydreaming alright, but it's more than a conscious trance. He's uses it to re-write his story re-member his body. That is, to release the muscle memory and change the body's chemistry. Relaxation alters the mind. Playing provides insight and inspiration. However, it's the way we actually invest our attention that alters what we believe is possible, and that, my tiger tells me, is how we gain the highest power.
Dreaming is the most important thing we do.
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