Posts tagged “mindfulness

A Vegan/Vegetarian Diet as a Practice of Faith?

Playing catch-up for last year’s Pagan Blog Project. I figured I’d try and finish up the rest of the alphabet in order to get myself back into the habit of writing about paganism regularly. I’d considered joining the Pagan Experience (basically a replacement for the Pagan Blog Project), but there are a lot of other things demanding my attention this year.

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Week 44 (V): adopting a vegan or vegetarian diet as an extension of “Harm none”

Many of you are already familiar with the “harm none” adage that some Pagans follow. But have you ever thought about whether this extends to other areas of your life?

I was re-reading some old forum posts recently and stumbled on this one that discusses a vegan or vegetarian diet being necessary for Pagans who adhere to the “harm none” rule. To be clear, this is not something that I do or an idea I subscribe to. But it did get me thinking. Why do I believe that it is my duty as a witch to harm none, but still eat animals and use animal products?

you find weird things when you google "animal rights"

you find weird things when you google “animal rights”

Full disclosure: I’m an omnivore who loves bacon. For me, it’s far more important to buy local, sustainably raised, humanely slaughtered meat whenever I can than to abstain altogether. Because of a number of personal factors, restricting my diet, regardless of reason, is just not in the cards for me.

Upon further examination, I suppose it’s more accurate to say that my goal is to harm none if there is no justifiable purpose. I don’t send out curses willy-nilly, but if I believe that someone has deeply wronged me, I’ll absolutely invoke Kali and stand back. Like most humans these days, I don’t go around slaughtering animals or hunting for fun*. I have never personally killed an animal, though I have participated in two chicken slaughters at a local farm. What is far more important to me is that I am not inflicting harm irreverently.

Being respectful of the animals you kill is another big part of my interpretation of “harm none”. I try to eat animals with respect. I do not buy factory farmed meat. I purchase milk and cheese made from cows that are not pumped full of growth hormones and antibiotics. I consume plants much the same way; I try to eat locally and seasonally. That is what “harm none” means to me in the broader context of my life.

 

* Before anybody goes nuts, “for fun” is the key part of this sentence. I’m contemptuous of people who hunt for sport, but if you’re using most of the animal for necessary things (food, shelter, etc), then I’m pretty ok with it.


Meditating with a Guide

Week 26 (M): on guided meditation

Meditation was something I knew how to do before anyone taught me. I love the idea of guided meditation; it seems like a good way to keep focused on the task at hand (which hearkens back to what I was talking about with last week’s mindfulness discussion). The two videos below are the best of a variety of guided meditations I found on Youtube.

When looking for a guided meditation, I think an important part is to look for someone’s voice that you find soothing. The content of the meditation matters too, of course, but it’s important to be able to listen comfortably to them while they guide you. Otherwise you could spend the whole time distracted by how annoyed you are by their voice. I liked these two in particular, but your mileage may vary.

The first is for chakra cleansing. I plan to use it in combination with stones I bought specifically for chakra cleansing. I imagine this would be a useful meditation to do on a regular basis. I think of chakra cleansing sort of like cleaning the house: it has to get done regularly, or else I go a little nuts. I plan to use this one stretched out on my back on a yoga mat, in a quiet dark room.

The second is for deep relaxation and sleep. Sometimes I have problems with insomnia, so I’m hoping this might help. I think this could also be a nice way to relax into sleep every night, a way of delineating between waking and restful hours.

On a related note, this article on mindfulness meditation from Scientific American crossed my path this week. It’s worth a read, as it talks about the benefits of mindfulness and meditation. Meditation is helpful for a range of ills: insomnia, anxiety, depression, etc. Not to say that it’s a substitute for other types of treatment, but I think it’s an excellent supplement to them.


Chopping Wood and Carrying Water

Week 25 (M): on mindfulness, or how to chop wood and carry water

How do you go about your work? While reading this, I started thinking about how mindfulness and work go hand in hand. One of my favorite quotes (and perhaps you’re familiar with it) is this:

chopwoodcarrywater

“Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.” (I took this photo in Maui, Hawaii shortly before a tropical storm hit.)

I don’t remember where I first found it, but I do remember reading it and having something click in my brain. I understand this as an entreaty to always pay attention to the task at hand (regardless of how “enlightened” you are). It stresses the importance of being mindful, how you ought to focus only on your current actions. Be present, which sounds like excellent advice.

When I’m dancing, I lose track of what’s happening around me, and sink into the feeling of being wholly in my body. When I’m knitting, the looping of the yarn and the swooping of my hands make for a meditative rhythm that keeps my focus on the task at hand. When I bake, the recipe becomes all that matters: the perfect leveled scoop of sugar, the milk poured so the meniscus is perfectly on the line.

All of these things are things I try to do with my whole being. This sort of presence and awareness is something I strive for, in everyday life as well as in magical practice.


Eating Locally

Consider this a bonus post for the Pagan Blog Project; we’re on E anyway this week. I bought into my first farm share this morning, so I’m excited and I wanted to share.

I live in an area that has quite a few farms. I’m not talking giant factory farms, where you’re not sure what the animals are being fed or where chemicals are essentially poured into the soil. I’m talking small-scale operations, many of which are what’s called community-supported agriculture (CSA). Basically it’s a way of distributing food grown locally to people who live nearby. Most CSAs that I know of are very concerned with sustainability practices and organic farming, both of which are important to me.

romanesco (or, that weird spiral-broccoli thingy)

romanesco (or, that weird spiral-broccoli thingy)

If you live somewhere that you can participate in something like this, I encourage you to do it. (You can search for a local CSA here.) Supporting local food sources is a pretty smart move in my opinion, as are shopping at things like farmer’s markets. There’s something amazing to me about being able to buy direct from the person that’s responsible for growing the food I get to eat later that same day.

The way a farm share from a CSA works (at least in this area) is this: you pay a set amount of money up front, in advance of the actual growing season. Then, whenever the first batch of crops comes up (usually the first week of June around here), you can pick up your first share. From June through October, you go to the farm every week and pick up whatever’s ripe that week. Most farms will give you a box, though some use bags, and you fill that with as much fresh, organic, locally grown produce as you like. For some crops, there’s limits (e.g. you can only have two potatoes this week because there weren’t a lot, but you can have unlimited kale), but mostly it’s just about filling your box with whatever strikes your fancy.

winegrapes

wine grapes, from that time I helped with harvest at a winery

I got my CSA from Next Barn Over, but there at least four other options nearby (it was really hard to choose one actually!). Next Barn Over grows things like bok choy, leeks, peas, and parsnips, as well as a whole slew of other crops. Come June, I’ll get a box of fresh produce (veggies mostly, but I hear they have pick your own herbs and strawberries too) every single week, through the end of October. I can’t wait!