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Put your hand on my heart and tell me the truth…

Chocolate Easter eggs have taken over the shops as they do every Easter season. And when I was a child, I saw delicious, tasty chocolate that I couldn’t wait to stomach.

But as I breastfeed my 4 month old this Easter morning, I am reminded of the truth of chocolate eggs.

My baby receives her life-giving nourishment from my very body, my breast. The milk that is made especially for her.

It’s 3:30am. She’s gulping down her milk and her little hand is sitting on my chest. Kylie Minogue’s “put your hand on my heart and tell me….” started playing in my mind.

Well what truth was my baby telling me with her tiny hand on my heart?

…thank you mum for the precious milk you give me several times a day and during the night. This is what helps me grow and live!

It’s Easter morning. Easter eggs are the symbol of new life, the resurrection of Jesus. But how can milk chocolate symbolize this when the milk we use for these eggs are robbed from baby cows?

Yes. Cows have babies. Just like I have had babies. Just like so many humans.

However a mother’s cow’s milk is not given to their babies. Instead, the mummy cow becomes a milk machine for human consumption. Her entire life. I still struggle to even understanding how this is even happening.

I emailed a milk company (A2 to be specific) last year to find the facts directly from the source. And baby cows are separated from their mothers within a week of being born. Why? Exact words in an email from A2 is because “we avoid the calves building a strong attachment to their mothers”.

Yes. You read that correctly.

In order for humans to consume cow’s milk (designed for their own babies), we must separate them unwillingly from their own children so they don’t bond.

And how do these baby cows survive if they’re not allowed to consume their own mother’s milk??

Formula of course. And once they’re fat enough… they’re sent off to be processed becoming veal for human consumption also.

Gosh this is a depressing post for Easter morning.

Sometimes ignorance is bliss they say. And I can understand that. Because once you learn something, it’s hard to unlearn it. It’s hard to ignore the new information that you have received.

But so many of us do.
Why? Because learning new information requires some sort of action. And action can be way too hard for most. Especially actions that feel like they’re removing some sort of pleasure (like eating chocolate with cow’s milk).

I often get asked if I feel like I’m missing out on so many foods being a vegan.

No.
Not one bit.

In fact, I feel enlightened. I feel privileged I’ve taken action against this insane practice of robbing baby cows of their own milk and mother’s love.

I sincerely feel like everyone else (non vegans) are missing out on having a purer conscience.

This may rub some of you the wrong way, no doubt. But once you have felt the truth, KNOW the truth… you can’t help but desire to LIVE the truth. Nothing is more satisfying than knowing you live your life with the least amount of cruelty as possibly (ahimsa).

My own human baby deserves her mother’s love and milk for her own growth. What makes a baby cow any different to us?

Our perception.
Our perception of what a cow is. What it deserves in comparison to us and what a cow was put on earth for.

We have been conditioned to believe that cows were made to make milk for humans. One of the biggest lies we have been fed for way too many generations.

Cows want to feed and bond with their babies just like any other mammal on the planet.

So perhaps with this information, you may just want to take some time to process it.

You may ignore it and continue on with your life.

You may want to find out more about the dairy industry.

You may feel compelled to some sort of action. Like perhaps purchasing non dairy milk when you go do your next grocery shop.

All I know is that you can’t unlearn things… and for me, when the veil of ignorance has been removed (avidya), I am called to action.

So with my baby’s hand on my heart this morning, I felt compelled to tell you the truth.

What will you do with this truth?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I love these two tanks. They’re a little tongue in cheek, as of course a vegan isn’t perfect, but with an awakened understanding of the world, they try and live a cruelty free life.

This one –
>> http://bit.ly/2w5wCRx
And this one –
>>http://bit.ly/2oLbco6

Stay in touch via my blog by signing up to GRACE-MAIL here >> http://bit.ly/2p4Qlxd

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Say What you Mean and Mean What you Say

As we reflect on the year that has been, whether you’re an experienced yogi or a beginner, it is interesting to ask the question “How do we know we are progressing in our yoga practice?” I asked this question at the start of one of our classes before the break and there were some great responses: “when the body and mind is more steady and calm” or “when I am able to do a more advanced pose”. All valid and correct responses.

Sharon Gannon of Jivamukti yoga says that you know you are progressing in your yoga practice when “you can say what you mean and mean what you say.” In other words, your inner world and your outer world are honest reflections of each other. When I first heard this I started bopping to the song “Say what you need to say” by John Meyer… it’s all about speaking your truth. When your thoughts, words and actions are in harmony – that is your yoga practice progressing!

The term ‘Yoga’ is translated as ‘union’. This true unity of mind, words and actions can be a profound reflection of how deep your yoga practice really is. Sometimes we think of real yogis to be those who can do advanced postures with ease and although this may certainly be true, it is not always the case.

When we start to live our lives less in ignorance (avidya) and with greater awareness and mindfulness, you can see yoga working within you. Awareness and mindfulness in how we think, speak and act. Are your words a reflection of your thoughts? Do you speak your truth? Are you honest and sincere? When we live less in ignorance, we tend to speak our truth with far more ease which then leads to more honest and sincere actions.   And when I refer to ignorance here, it is not in reference to ignorance of knowledge. It is ignorance of our true Self. Click here to read more about avidya.

Have you ever had those “light bulb” moments? You know, the “ah ha!” moments of self-realisation? Something just suddenly makes sense. And when this internal shift happens, it usually draws you to take some sort of action. In my own life, I had a few “ah ha” moments in my teens when I started to consciously realise that when I ate meat, I was actually contributing to the suffering of other living beings. I started to make this connection as my conscience became more in tune with life, suffering and death. After seventeen years of being a vegetarian, I had another “ah ha” moment only six months ago where I realised that consuming dairy and eggs was also contributing to horrific acts of suffering towards animals. With this knowledge of truth, I had no internal choice but to take action and stop consuming these products. For me, my thoughts and actions became even more united. One thing I started to realise more recently is that although my thoughts and actions were in harmony in this particular case, my words were very few. I rarely spoke about animal welfare or the reasons why I was vegetarian for so many years unless of course I was asked directly and would always give a brief response. It is more recently I have become more confident to speak more honestly about these reasons and express them more fervently. I am finally starting to feel my words are beginning to express to my inner world on animal welfare issues – I feel more compelled to “say what I mean and mean what I say”.

So what is it for you? Is there an experience where your thoughts, words and actions are more in harmony perhaps as result of a more regular and refined yoga practice? How do you say what you mean and mean what you say?

When we finish each yoga class, we say “Namaste” to one another accompanied with Anjali Mudra (hand to the heart in prayer) and a small bow of the head. Namaste has slightly different translations but essentially means “the light/divine in me greets/salutes the light/divine in you”. What a beautiful and profound greeting! If these are the words we say to one another, do our thoughts genuinely mirror these words? What about our actions?

Think about your daily greetings…G’day, take care, be well, goodbye … do we honestly mean these deep down when we say them? Do you honestly feel it deep inside when you say to your friend or acquaintance, “take care”?

Bhakti yoga is translated as “devotional yoga”. It is about seeing everyone and everything as an image of God’s (or the divine) creation. If I greeted each person each day with that deep sense that I was greeting someone who is an image of the divine, how may my words or actions be any different? More mindful perhaps? More sincere?

In many Arab cultures, people greet each other with words like “Salam allah laykum” which means “peace be with you” or “Alla Makoon” which means “may God be with you”. In fact “goodbye” is the shortened version of the Old English “God be With You”. It is easy to be unaware how deeply engrained spirituality actually is in our culture… maybe we can try and say what we mean and mean what we say with the next person we happen to come across after reading this blog post. And start to consider the question “how do I know that my yoga practice is progressing?”…

 

“All things share the same breath – the beast, the tree, the man, the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.” – Chief Seattle

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We All Share the Same Nature

Last month I talked about the essence of the nature of who we are.  Who are we? We are: Sat Chit Ananda (‘Absolute Bliss Consciousness’).  This is the Self.  We share this nature with all living beings: whether we are human, a cow, a dog or a fish.

We all share this common nature of the Self.  As we start to recognise our shared nature with all sentient beings, we start to realise the importance of Ahimsa (non harming).  As living beings we have two main goals in life: to be happy and to avoid suffering.  We share this goal with the horse, the pig and all living creatures.  Once we realise this, we start to change the way we think, the way we speak and this influences our actions.

The greatest everlasting happiness is achieved by putting the welfare of others before your own.  Patanjali says that we should avoid harmful thoughts, not just actions.  Our thoughts are deeply entwined with the way we act!

As a yogi, we are encouraged to live a life that causes the least amount of suffering to others.  All beings.  This is ahimsa in practice.

An important ingredient of ahimsa is compassion.  The word compassion means to “feel with”: ‘passion’ means to ‘feel’ and com’ means ‘with’.  So when we have compassion towards another being, it means we literally “feel with” them.

If we recognise that we share the same nature as other living beings, we begin to see ourselves through other beings.  Compassion trains the mind to see past our outer differences of form.  Just because a dog has four legs and we have two, it doesn’t change the fact that we share the same inner essence.  Once we see this, we begin not only to desire happiness for ourselves, but we realise that every single creature also desires happiness.

To develop compassion, it is a good practice to examine or reflect on your motives for your actions.  What are your intentions for your actions? Are they honourable? Are they honest?

When I was very young, I was always very sensitive to the suffering of others; humans and animals alike.  When I was a teenager, I started to really become aware of the fact that I was eating the flesh of other sentient beings.  I started to develop a very fine conscience about this and so when I was 17 years old, I became a vegetarian.  My motive was to avoid contributing to any suffering of another being.  I couldn’t come to terms with the fact that an animal had to suffer in order for me to eat, when there was plenty of other food that I could eat that was nourishing for my body and mind. So for the last 18 years I have been a dedicated vegetarian and although my dairy intake was not big, I only decided to become a Vegan about 3 months ago.

I read up on the dairy industry and it suddenly overwhelmed me to realise the suffering that cows and chickens (hens and roosters) endure so that we can have aisles of dairy in our supermarket.  For me, the decision to stop eating meat or dairy came from within me, with no outside pressure.  It was something that came with an acute sense of wanting to avoid suffering.  I strongly believe that if we live our life fuelled with ahimsa (non harming) and compassion, it will vibrantly change our planet.

So I encourage you to examine your thoughts, words and actions this month: how do you contribute to ahimsa in your world?

  • What are your thoughts on your boss at work?
  • How do you view your colleagues?
  • How do you treat the stranger that bumps into you at the shops?
  • How do you speak to your partner and loved ones after a rough day?
  • How do you speak to your colleagues when you’re under pressure?
  • Are your actions at work honourable?

 “The root of happiness is compassion” ~ Dalai Lama