A new paradigm

Q: How do you treat others?
A: There are no others.
-    Ramana Maharishi

When I woke up to a bright, crisp new morning of the first page of a 365-page book and after I called and texted family and friends with best wishes for the new cycle, I went out to the woods with my favourite companion, Seeta the dog. As I walked up the familiar path and greeted people who walked past with 'happy new year' and 'all the best', I felt my body flood with joy. I felt so connected with everyone and everything, and I felt something I haven’t in a while - hope. Hope for all of us, hope for the Earth, all sentient beings, hope for mankind. This hope wasn't caused by an isolated event, but rather accumulated little glimpses of positive changes I kept seeing and experiencing in the past year or more; on macro as well as micro level, global as much as the personal. I have seen changes in myself as well as those close to me, witnessed minds expanding, eyes opening and an old idea of ME slowly shifting to WE. On a global level we are witnessing a slow, yet a persistent change of old ways of thinking (or rather non-thinking for ourselves but accepting what already is), to a more awoken, more conscious one. People are thinking about plastic pollution and ditching single use plastic, ditching fur, wool and fast fashion, trying to reduce waste (zero waste trend is on!) as well as switching to plant based diets. We see more and more pro athletes and celebrities switching to more conscious life choices and using their fame to promote a more conscious lifestyle (Can the age of Kardashians be over or am I now being too optimistic hehe. Doesn’t hurt to send an intention out there…;)

We are finally questioning old ways, researching, reading, thinking for selves and leaving the old where it belongs - in the past. We are finally realising that we are all interconnected and that the wellbeing and happiness or all depends on our relationship with ourselves, each other and Mama Earth. We are finally realising the future is in our hands - yours and mine. Not the government's, not the scientists. There's no superhero, or an alien who will descend upon this planet and save us (from ourselves). There is only you and me. It might be a scary thought but it's equally liberating. Our future is in our hands and each decision makes a difference. The only question is - what is the difference we would like to make?

"I think the most important message that I have is to remember that you, and I'm speaking to you (watching this film). You as an individual make a difference. What you do each day actually is affecting what's going on in the world each day, so your life matters, you matter. So use your life wisely." Dr Jane Goodall quote from HOPE documentary.

Consciousness vs. tradition  

Nowhere is this change more noticeable than in the relationship we have with food. And this is why I am so hopeful as not many old believes are harder to break than those related to food. What and how we eat is so much more than just a daily need; it is a deep connection to where we come from and who we are, with the tradition, family and the sense of belonging, with the comfort and the feeling of being safe. We connect the cup of warm milk to our mother and the feeling of being loved and nourished, the smell of chicken soup reminds us of our grandmother, roasted chicken of Sunday family lunch. So, when we hear about the negative impact some of the food we consume has on our health, environment and suffering of innocent, even before hearing the argument or examining the facts, we become defensive. It's a natural response rooted in the amygdala, an old (and quite primitive) part of our brain responsible for fear, flight or fight response and generally to emotional response after believing we are being 'attacked'. Useful back in a day when we lived in caves and were exposed to wilderness and environment, not so much today.

Consciousness - our conscious choices and reactions based on facts rather than emotional triggers, lies in the part of the brain called prefrontal cortex. This is the part that makes us different from other mammals and able to evolve as we did.  “The prefrontal cortex is supposed to keep areas like the amygdala in check and instruct them that, for example, ‘I know that’s a snake, but it’s behind a piece of plexiglass, so we’re good,' It’s much like a parent and child. Children are less flexible in their responses to situations that parents, whose job is to instruct them and help them regulate.” - Paul Whalen So, when someone tells you 'dairy is scary' and gives ample of evidence why dairy is unhealthy, environmentally destructive and inhumane, the amygdala prepares to war to defend the honour of your maybe now deceased grandma or grandpa who told you there is nothing better for your teeth and bones than a glass of milk. In that case, prefrontal cortex or 'the parent' would explain that nobody's attacking your granny, and will listen to the evidence, do the research and finally draw a conclusion based on facts.

In yogic terms, this is acting from the higher Bodhi mind (Buddhist and yogi sages understood all of this thousands of years before the science:). The goal of yoga as well as so many other spiritual traditions, is liberation or enlightenment, and the way to the liberation is through a higher mind, or higher consciousness.

Knowledge is power

The beautiful message about how we all make a difference by Jane Goodall, a human I respect and admire so much, starts a documentary film called HOPE - what you eat matters. It’s a great, fact based documentary explaining why plant based diet is better for our health as well as the health or the planet and all beings on the planet. But, in the past decade so many documentaries came out and are still coming out, as well as so much research so much evidence. It's all out there, you just need to make an effort of doing the research and finding the truth for yourself. There is so much out there and if you are reading this it means you have the means to find out the truth.

Old myths about how plant-based diets are unhealthy, lack protein etc. are debunked every day. Some of the best, strongest, most endurable athletes today are vegan so “what about protein” question doesn’t make much sense any more. A brand new documentary called 'The game changers' features many pro athletes who live and thrive on a vegan diet. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger. My personal favourites are vegan bodybuilders and strongmen like Patrik Baboumian definitely debunking the protein myth, those on the top of their game like tennis players Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams as well as surfers (Alana Blanchard, John John etc.)

The horrific impact animal farming has on the environment is yet another reason to do the research and think about the food choices we make. Most recent studies show that, if we continue down this road, the damage will be irreversible unless we stop consuming meat and dairy. This article from The Guardian sums it up pretty well. But the bottom line is, don’t trust my word for it, don’t even trust the articles you read. Dig deeper, do your research, know and understand before you make any final conclusions. Knowledge truly is empowering.

(R)evolution of mankind

For me personally, as well as many vegans I know, the health reasons are the least important ones. Even if the vegan diet was less healthy and if eating meat and dairy would make me feel better and live a few years longer, I would still say no. (BTW, never felt better in my life!). Weighing between that and preventing suffering and death of an innocent being is an easy choice for my prefrontal cortex. And seeing more and more people think like this makes me happy and hopeful. It makes me believe that humans can really evolve to beings who are not enslaved by the past and stuck in old ideas, who are not causing harm to others and destroying Earth, the only home we have, but evolved beings dedicated to preservation, compassion, kindness and love.

When I need inspiration and hope I watch documentaries and the one which made me feel more hopeful is Vegan 2018 I’m posting below. This is a sequel to Vegan 2017, and it follows world trends in plant based nutrition every year. Number of people going plant based are growing so fast that a recent article Guardian called 2019 - the year of the vegan due to the unexpected rise of people signing up to Veganuary this year.

I see more and more people acting from a conscious self sometimes called the 'higher mind' rather than the unconscious fearful mind. I see people researching, reading, questioning and changing. So if these deeply rooted beliefs can be re-examined and changed - everything can. Beliefs, as well as habits, are slow to break. But, breaking habits, even good ones, are a key to freedom (liberation).

There are no 'others', there is no separation, there is only a vibration which unites you and me and every living being on this beautiful planet we call home.

We have a chance to change the narrative. Let’s do it together. Happy new year!