Thankful, Grateful....Mindful

7 Suggestions On How To Integrate Being Mindful With

Living Vegan

It's always the perfect time to be thankful, grateful and mindful about the lives we live.

This is the time of year however when we Americans supposedly take time out to reflect on what it is specifically we have to be thankful about.

Rather than write about the usual hypocritical aspects of what Americans now unashamedly call Turkey day I think it's rather important to notice the relationship between being thankful, grateful and mindful with living vegan.

Living vegan is easy. It's very simple. It's not born from some magnificent sacrifice and there is really nothing that remarkable about it. The only thing remarkable or special in regard to being vegan is when we realize that 99% of our neighbors are not vegan.

Living vegan is not a diet. It's not a fashion or lifestyle choice either.

Being vegan is about opening our hearts and minds and about expanding our moral concerns to everyone.

Yes, everyone.

So with the above idea in mind (no pun intended, yet definitely noticed) during this time of year we can look at what it means to integrate and incorporate being mindful into our daily lives as vegans.

Since being thankful and grateful fall under the umbrella of being mindful we'll focus (no pun intended again but noticed once more) on bringing mindfulness to living vegan.

Being mindful or mindfulness comes directly from the teaching of Buddha himself and has become a main part of the Buddhist tradition.

Being mindful simply is about being purposefully aware.

Being mindful is about noticing what we are experiencing and what our responses might be to that experience. Being mindful is about contemplation and focusing ones attention.

While there are certain activities involved with being mindful it is not a technique but rather a way of being.

It's not about doing something but rather about connecting and being aware.

Mindfulness is a subtle activity and you are in some ways...doing it right now while reading this.

There is something real and extremely beneficial to be said about deliberately transforming our moment to moment experience of the world and becoming absorbed in the present moment.

Mindfulness can feel like the ah ha moment we can sometimes experience.

In that brief flash of insight we notice our own attention being focused and we're automatically absorbed in the ...what's happening now moment.

When we have insight like this it really feels as if time is slowing down. This is because when we're truly focused on something time disappears.

We all know the saying that a watched pot never boils. This is because when we're focused on the water in the pot our perception of time changes because we're being mindful to the situation. That is the beauty in being focused and in deliberately paying close attention to what is important.

This is where the practice of mindfulness can benefit our living vegan.

Being mindful is about paying attention and attempting to understand our own minds. This can help lead to self knowledge of who we are, why we are drawn to living vegan and why the rights of non human animals matters to us.

Being mindful helps us see the big picture of our being vegan. To discover what's important and what's not.

Mindfulness is one-third attention training, one-third being focused on a very important aspect of who we are and one-third of everything else.

OK, I made that very last bit up about mindfulness but it sounded very Zen and actually made sense. This is really because being mindful is a very open and simple concept.


Here are 7 suggestions on how to bring mindfulness into being and living vegan.

These are not rules or techniques and certainly not a to do list but rather some simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into your own veganism.

1. Self Inquiry. Self reflection with some type of inner growth work.

Learning about who we are through introspection.

Asking ourselves important questions and attempting to find the answers.

Personally connecting to what it is that drives or draws us to living vegan.

Being vegan is something which takes place and happens within us.

Becoming vegan is not something that is an external something or that takes place outside of us. It happens inside and that is where we begin to investigate as well.

2. Study.

Read, listen, research. There are so many important books, websites, podcasts and other resources from which we can learn everything we need to know about animal rights and living vegan.

Studying is about understanding the theories behind what we feel so that we might know which action to take.

Studying is important so we can have a more reflective attitude toward being vegan.

We all should know the difference between an abolitionist vegan and an animal liberationist vegan.

And those are just the A's.

Not everything is found in books however, so this can also include studying nature or our own relationships with others in regard to our veganism.

This is about connecting the dots, growing in wisdom and understanding the principles about being vegan.

3. Personal, mindful practice.

Finding something that takes you beyond yourself yet where you can also become mindful about being vegan and contemplate it. This can be anything from practicing meditation, practicing yoga, hiking, running or even gardening.

Something where you can connect your thoughts about being vegan to an activity and then connect with it on a regular basis.

This is where you can notice the connection to moving, breathing and being alive. This is where you make the connection that we animals are all the same. We move, we breath, we feel.

4. Finding a teacher.

Looking for guidance and direction from someone. Someone who can give us advice, who we can learn from and who we have a connection with.

The truth is we can learn from everyone and in a very real sense we can make everyone we meet into our teacher.

The world and our own perception of the world becomes a very different place when we treat everyone as if they were our teacher.

We can learn a lot about being vegan from people who are not vegan.

We can learn incredible truths about compassion and kindness from people who seem cruel and who mention that they're not concerned about the lives or well being of other animals.

We can discover new aspects about ourselves when we see how others shut down at the mention of our veganism. We can also learn from others how and where we close up or shut down too.

This is easily noticed for example when we walk directly past a homeless human and we fail to stop and offer help.

5. Community.

Humans are social animals and we need to be with others.

It's very important to feel we're part of a community.

That we belong somewhere. That we fit in and connect with others in important ways.

That we share ideals and values with certain other people.

Every major social and political movement throughout history thrived and succeeded by building a community of support and collaboration. A supportive group of other people helps us stay focused on the journey ahead.

Being with other vegans who get us, who think like us can help round off the rough edges that we've built up from living in an animal eating/wearing/exploiting society.

The consequences of not having a community or belonging to a group is alienation.

Feeling cut off from the world can make us believe that we can't fulfill our role or purpose in society.

6. Volunteering/Giving back.

This is compassion in action and the essence of living vegan.

Being a mindful vegan is all about volunteering to help relieve the suffering in the world and to making the world a more peaceful and loving place.

On the outer level it's all about making a difference for others, being generous to others and being connected to our altruistic nature.

It's not about writing a check (although money is always needed when animals are being rescued and need to be cared for).

However, on a more mindful and contemplative level it's about giving without expecting or wanting anything in return.

It's about focusing our attention on dropping the need to be recognized for giving back to others and or for receiving attention from our giving back to help.

So being mindful about giving back might be doing something compassionate or kind without anyone else ever even knowing about it.

7. Being thankful/grateful.

In the context of being mindful it's important to focus on being thankful and grateful.

The world is not a worse place than it was in the past. We have so much to be thankful and grateful for

about being alive today and that we are living vegan.

We have so much cruelty free food to choose from and so much positive vegan culture to become involved with. We need to learn to appreciate our circumstances so that we can become better activists and better advocates for the non human animals.

Living vegan makes a real difference.

Being thankful helps us stay focused on the actual positive aspects that we're doing something that is saving lives.

Every vegan saves approximately 95 farmed animals lives each year.

Being grateful when we are motivated by compassion, kindness and empathy.

Being thankful however does not mean we don't realize and recognize that it's far worse today for the 55 billion farmed animals being killed for food every year on this planet than it ever has been.

It's not a better time for the animlas raised and slaughtered for food than it was in the past. The same modern technology that makes our lives easier, more efficient is also the cause of so much greater harm and makes life a million times more horrific for the animals, whom we eat, wear or exploit.

Yet as vegans living today the burden is on us to help other humans discover a much more compassionate way of living on this planet we share with our fellow earthlings.

Becoming vegan is the only solution to ending the death and suffering being inflicted on the other animals of the world.

Being mindful on a personal level of what it means to live vegan is such an incredibly important aspect to developing veganism for the rest of humanity.

The implications of not being mindful about our own veganism is that we run the risk of losing focus and losing the power each of us has in helping develop the next phase of human evolution.

That evolution is human veganism.

And it will come about by our all being more mindful together.

Be a mindful living sanctuary to someone else's existence.

Go vegan.

Inner Acres

The Personal Lessons Learned About Living Vegan
From A Farmed Animal Sanctuary.

I long to accomplish a great and noble task.
But it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.
Helen Keller

Cowboy and friend

Now whenever I spend a day at Animal Acres something within me opens up.

It used to be much more common for me that I would experience myself shutting down after being there.

Especially on that 50 minute drive back to Los Angeles where I would seem to focus on the fact that this beautiful safe haven for animals was a bit of a delusion and not the reality for which the vast majority of farmed animals live their lives.

The reality is that there are nearly 12 billion farmed animals killed every year for food in the United States. The reality is that the modern farmed chicken industry today will confine up to a quarter million birds in one building alone. The reality is that an industrial hog producer in America will kill nearly 80,000 animals in one single day. The reality is there are about 400 rescued farmed animals living peacefully at the sanctuary here at Animal Acres.

This massive imbalance of killing and cruelty versus kindness and protection is heart wrenching to say the least. One can't help but feel the weight of this reality bearing down and literally crushing any positive feeling, either about the sanctuary itself or what we as individuals might be able to contribute in helping bring an end to this violent and oppressive injustice our society calls, food production.

Yet now, after the end of each day and after having spent more time with the chosen few non humans at Animal Acres, I leave the sanctuary with more awareness about these thoughts.

I now leave with a much deeper acceptance of this reality and of the positive aspects of living vegan.

It's not just about the obvious connection to the animals and seeing them living happily and in peace. It's not just about recognizing their wisdom, humor, insights and how brilliantly they appear to live in the endless present that makes being around them so perfect and so rewarding. No, that's only a part of it all.

For me now, it's also the understanding that providing sanctuary for even one life matters immensely. Especially to that one life who has been given refuge.

I know this sounds quite obvious but sometimes it's the easily recognized and obvious things that are the big lessons and the ones which hit us the hardest when we seriously acknowledge them for the first time.

When we pause and think about the actions we take everyday for instance to protect our own lives or to increase our own well being we may also recognize that our life too is only just one life and yet worthy of sanctuary.

We do what needs to be done everyday for our own lives and it never seems meaningless or unimportant. So why would it be any less important to save or vastly improve another life?

When someone adopts one dog or one cat from a kill shelter it makes a huge difference to that one animal. It's never an unimportant or insignificant event for the life saved , especially on a personal level for that being.

And in this exact context the lessons I've learned and have found to be so moving about my time at Animal Acres is the awakening to what living vegan means when wrapped up in this specific sentiment.

Living vegan makes a huge difference in this context and understanding it as having meaning and importance has served as new inspiration for making it the foundation of a different reality than the one I used to stand on.

Although I've been living vegan for many years I never fully grasped that my being vegan was something that happened from my inner life and not something that came about from outside myself.

When we are able to discover it and sense it directly from within, it deepens.

When we find those places, those inner acres of meaningful terrain they can be the strongest ground we have to stand on.

This new foundation for me is one constructed on appreciation, contemplation and compassion.

And from this also comes the insight that living vegan is simple and not in any way at all very remarkable.

Being vegan is also not at all even the slightest bit challenging .

This to me, gives veganism a truth that cannot be denied.

In a world that's so brutal and seems so dismal it's not always what we do or who we are that means anything but rather how we connect those experiences to our inner life that can make a difference.

When we stop worrying about how nothing we ever do will actually make a difference and live with the knowledge that everything we do matters, we not only gain strength from our choices but we are able to notice that what we do... we can do quite well.

If in that moment whatever we are doing is actually our main focus and inspiration then everything else disappears and this becomes who we are and gains much more meaning.

Cleaning out one barn stall, carrying one bag of pig feed, feeding an apple to a goat resident all makes a difference.

The importance and meaning of whatever we do comes about when that activity is cared for and respected.

Nearly everything we do are just tiny activities but they can all add up. The same is true for every life that is given sanctuary.

The same is true about living vegan and in remembering the lessons we've learned when we're inspired by what is important to us. It's in those lessons that something important arises and something meaningful can be given back.

Living vegan is the most important step we can take when we open up to the idea of living compassionately.

When something is important and has meaning it's because we found that something in ourselves and then opened up to it.

Be a Sanctuary for someone,

Go vegan.

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