Tag: Compassion

Lessons from an Elephant in Bondage

Lessons from an Elephant in Bondage

article-2682388-1F6E1EA200000578-509_634x523The story had been circulating through Facebook for about a week now and I had been avoiding it because I knew it would upset me. But today I felt the courage to read it.

article-2682388-1F6E1EBD00000578-369_634x661An elephant in India had been in bondage for 50 years. Not just tied up for half a century but shackled with piercing bonds around his ankles. He was forced to hold out his trunk and beg for coins from passers-by and survived only on plastic and paper for food. A group of rescuers (Wildlife SOS) heard of his plight and saved him. Under cover of darkness they took 10 team members, 20 forestry employees and six police officers to help him. They took Raju fruit as they fought with the owner who was illegally mistreating the animal. Their words soothed him and nurtured him as much as the food he so desperately needed. As they began to remove his spiked hobbles and chains, this magnificent creature began to cry. Real tears.

article-2682388-1F6E1F4F00000578-992_634x956As I read the article I too began to cry. Tears for the elephant—this beautiful, kind soul. Tears for the rescuers and their profound compassion. And yes, tears for the man who mistreated Raju.

article-2682388-1F6E23B400000578-803_634x475I pondered the story all day and what I came to understand is how Raju is a powerful teacher for us.

The mind is a powerful tool in our lives that can turn into a slave master. It can create shackles, even spiked shackles, that hold us back, keep us stuck and create a living hell where we are enslaved to starve spiritually and emotionally. Our beliefs can become so powerful that we cannot realize there is a better life available.

article-2682388-1F6E1EA700000578-231_634x422How do we become slave to our mind? Simply by allowing it to create scenarios based on beliefs about who we are and what we are capable of doing. If we grow up believing we don’t deserve happiness or that we’re stupid or we’re not talented…or whatever negative belief we hold…we reinforce this belief by practicing it. It’s like playing golf and developing a bad swing. It’s not that we really want to play badly, we simply build on a faulty or inefficient swing and our game gets worse.

So if our mind enslaves us, then what frees us? What becomes the rescue team that unties our bindings and frees us to stand and grow into the fullness of being?

It can begin with a simple question: What if I’m wrong? What if the beliefs I hold about myself are incorrect? What if I am smart? What if I am creative? What if I’m capable of living my potential? What if I can commit to a relationship? The list is endless.

article-2682388-1F6E1E0200000578-486_634x414If we begin to feed ourselves mental food that is nourishing, the shackles gradually begin to loosen. In other words, we become our own rescuers; however, we don’t have to do it alone. We can form friendships that nurture our wholeness. We can join groups that empower us. We can practice good self-care, however that looks for each of us. We can nurture our dreams instead of deny them.

It is our birthright to fully develop into the potential we were born with and to express the gifts that are part of our soul experience. We can shine brightly and fully when we stop abusing ourselves, stop allowing others to do so and fully embrace the abundant richness of spirit we are meant to experience. We hold the keys to the Kingdom of Love and Light…and the keys that unlock the shackles into which we have locked ourselves.

article-2686961-1F876BE400000578-224_634x421It’s difficult to make sense of such mistreatment of our brothers and sisters such as Raju but if we take a bit of time and seek the lessons contained within, we honor their pain and suffering as we use it to gain better understanding of our own lives. We all have the capacity to be the abuser, the abused and the rescuer. Which do you choose to be to your self? To others?

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How to Change the World

How to Change the World

Over a year ago I moved back to the Gulf Coast and at that time made the decision to delete television from my life. Unhooked from commercials and advertisements the freedom from bombarding marketing of one kind or another has been amazing. But I did want some way to watch movies, old television programs and documentaries so I opted to subscribe to Netflix.

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I enjoy a bit of mindless entertainment from time to time; however, tonight I watched a program that quite literally changed my life.

In searching the ‘recently added’ programs I found, I Am. It is a documentary film created by a movie director who was in a cycling accident and during his recovery decided to ask two important questions: 1) What is wrong with the world; 2) What is the answer?

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Many wise people were interviewed and scientific evidence was presented and demonstrated. My excitement grew as I watched. This movie answered many questions I’ve had over the past few months. I encourage interested folks to watch for themselves but here are a few key components.

First, it has been proven that our moods affect living systems around us. They showed how a person’s emotional energy impacted bacteria (living organisms) as measured by a change in electrical field. Simple organisms are affected by how we behave. I’ve been laughed at for hugging trees…of course that didn’t stop me…and now I know my love and appreciation for them is, on some level, felt. Can you imagine the possibilities? Studies done years ago about talking to your house plants and playing beautiful music helps them grow. The film showed yet another study that gave proof on how we can positively affect the world around us if we live with the intention to do so?

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Conversely, if we practice anger and hate think what we are doing to those around us…and the planet…all living systems. Learning to cultivate compassion and love has never been so important. Letting go of negative emotions and thoughts has never been so necessary.

It was also shown in the film how we are not really separate. We are all connected. Have you ever had someone in your life and you knew something was going on with them even though you hadn’t talked in weeks….months? You just knew? Or you dreamed about them emailing you and when you awaken there’s an email…after months of not hearing from them. Love connects us. We are not separated by miles or time.

Another interesting point made by the film is the fact that we are wired, via our DNA, to have compassion and be cooperative. We have the potential to be violent and aggressive; however, we are hard-wired to love and help one another. Not just humans are genetically programmed to be cooperative, but many animals are as well.

In one study scientists set up cameras on fields where a herd of red deer grazed. They wanted to find out which deer led the herd to watering holes. Over and over again they watched in fascination as, one-by-one, the deer would raise their heads and look toward a watering hole. When the number of deer reached 51% of the herd the entire herd, as a group, simply wandered to the water. Unspoken consensus. Democracy in action.

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Perhaps the most important idea I took away from the film was the fact that every act of kindness, compassion, good will we do is truly felt and therefore makes a positive difference. This is especially vital to understand as we live in a time of great unrest and fear as the ecosystems of our planet undergo intense changes due to climate change, where economic problems grow and tensions between citizens of all countries increase. Stepping away from conflict, practicing compassion and love for an animal, a place, a neighbor….it makes a difference!

Now is not the time to give up. It is the time to love boldly, act bravely through compassion and joy. This is how we change the world.

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For the Love of Animals

For the Love of Animals

Stanley and Simone
Stanley and me

I grew up having tea time with my friend Bridget, a beagle. Our ‘cake’ was Bridget’s biscuits. Milkbone makes a very good tea cake…in case you are wondering.

Stanley Kubrick, my current orange tabby friend
Stanley Kubrick, my current orange tabby friend
Gracie, my darling queen of the manor cat friend
Gracie, my darling queen of the manor cat friend

My best friends have always been four-legged. Their unconditional love, acceptance and loyalty have been, without a doubt, vital to my happiness. It started with Bridget and then there were others…Freckles, Sarge, Inka, Jake, Pete, Ben, Jessie, Uriel, Stacey, Angie…and the cats Hazel, Maya and Maat and others that left too soon. And Yokie, Gracie and Stanley.

Tommy with my three year old daughter and me...1988-ish.
Tommy with my three year old daughter and me…1988-ish.

When I was 13 or so bigger four-leggeds came into my life…’D’ and Tommy (Tomahawk Red). Tommy and I participated in horse shows and my relationship with him was my most important teenage friendship. A short story I wrote about our relationship was published in WNC Woman and it remains one of my favorites.

My manatee friend...our story is in another blog post from January 2013
My manatee friend…our story is in another blog post from January 2013

Over the past several years there have been wild animals that became my friend in a moment, from first contact, and that heart-felt relationship has lasted for years..the memories still precious. Those would be manatees…flippered-ones.

Henry Flager, my salty sister Renee and her husband Hans' wild boy.
Henry Flager, my salty sister Renee and her husband Hans’ wild boy.

People that make room in their hearts for animals are worthy of their love, of that there’s no doubt. When we commit to a relationship with an animal, be it one that lives with us or a wild animal whose cause we champion, we make an expression of love and compassion. You, my friend, are worth caring for. You are worth the energy it takes to keep you well. Why is it so difficult to maintain human relationships when we do this so easily with animals? It remains a mystery to me.

Sambeaux, my mom's lab
Sambeaux, my mom’s lab

To all the animal companions I have known as my own ‘child’ or as friends in the wild or in other’s lives, I say THANK YOU! You make life wonderful!

Abbey, my friend's Phyliss and Bob's companion
Abbey, my friend’s Phyliss and Bob’s companion
Ollie, my daughter's companion
Ollie, my daughter’s and her fiance’s companion
Yokie, my true friend of many years...RIP buddy
Yokie, my true friend of many years…RIP buddy