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Growing into My Animal Rights Activism and Spirituality

 

                                                             

Twenty five years ago on any given Saturday afternoon you could find me on the street corner of Martel and Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, standing behind a beige card table with stacks of anti-vivisection brochures, mostly on cosmetic and household product testing, photos of bunnies with their heads in sockets and their eyes being burned, the usual stuff. I was there representing LCA (Last Chance for Animals, a LA based animal rights organization) encouraging passer-bys to sign my petition and boycott Proctor and Gamble, and the like.

I don't know how I got there. Meaning, I don't know how I got involved in animal rights. There was no defining moment. No person or animal who inspired me. No book I read. No movie I saw. No revelation. Nothing. I don't even remember deciding to become a vegetarian at that time. I just made a sign and showed up at a protest that I somehow heard was taking place. It all happened organically, as if I had no choice but to be carried along the winds of destiny that was my life. It was what was supposed to be.

Growing up, we had tons of pets: unneutered and unspayed cats, constantly having kittens (gasp!), a dog, a bird. I loved them all. But I wasn't obsessed with them. I didn't like animals more than people. Though I do remember becoming abnormally distraught because my brother accidentally ran over a bird with the lawn mower. It wasn't love that ignited my passion, it was injustice. And maybe that is love. I don't know. At a young age, I knew something was unjust when it came to the treatment of animals. I'm a Libra, the sign of scales and justice, so perhaps it was bigger than me, after all.

My grandma worked in a slaughterhouse in Omaha, Nebraska where I was born. I remember the unforgettable stench of death wafting through the air. You could smell it on Omaha back then. It was like the whole city had B.O. The slaughter houses were smack dab in the middle of the town. Today they're hidden away, inconspicuously, on the outskirts, so consumers aren't reminded of the horrors behind the slaughterhouse walls, animals discreetly transported at night when no one can see them. Omaha was smellier back then, but more honest.

I spent formative years in Wisconsin, home of cheeseheads, dairy cows, and hunters, like my dad, who eventually became the Head Editor of the Agricultural Department at Kansas State University. (Go figure he'd have a vegan animal rights activist daughter.) It wasn't unusual to come home from school to find two huge deer hanging from the rafters in the garage, blood dripping from their beautiful majestic bodies into dark red puddles on the concrete floor below. I stepped around the blood, trying not to look at them, trying not to feel anything. We ate frogs, squirrels, fish, quail, rabbits, deer, anything he hunted. I hated it all. I didn't like meat except turkey. He never hunted turkeys. Had I grown up on McDonald's or Taco Bell or processed roast beef deli slices and hotdogs I may have loved meat. But I grew up on a different kind of meat. Meat that tasted like the dead animal it was.

The wind eventually shifted directions, and animal activism took a back seat to my first love, spirituality. I had begun Transcendental Meditation in childhood, and had already been a student of A Course in Miracles for four years by the time I was standing on Melrose. As I delved further and further into the teachings of the Course, I continued to eat vegetarian, phase out dairy products, leather, wool, down feathers, donate money to animal rights groups, and shop cruelty-free, but animal welfare was no longer at the forefront of my consciousness. A Course in Miracles was. I lived and breathed the Course for ten years. It somehow required all that I had. It wanted my full undivided attention. And I gave it to it. So much so that it led me to becoming a hypnotherapist.

Then, about four years ago, the winds of change began to blow again. They gently picked me up and set me down someplace I hadn't been before, somewhere between animal rights and spirituality. I'm no longer solely focused on one or the other. I am laser focused on both. My life isn't about animals or people, it's about animals and people. To me, it's all the same. There's really only one of us here and what we do to the smallest of us, we do to all of us. Likewise, when one of us heals, we all heal. I've come to realize that I had to tip those Libra scales one way and then the other in order to find my perfect balance. I now feel more equipped to tip society's scales toward healing and justice for ALL.


My Thirty Days of Transcendental Meditation Challenge


Did you see "America's Most Unusual Town" on Oprah's "Next Chapter"? It's about Fairfield, Iowa, a town in which people collectively practice Transcendental Meditation (TM) twice a day. As a result, the community experiences no crime, but rather peace and robust health.

I was initiated into Transcendental Meditation when I was seven years old. My father had our family initiated into the practice. At seven, I received a "walking mantra" whereby I would repeat the mantra while walking--to school, on the playground, etc. At ten, students can then practicing sitting meditation. I assume it's too hard for kids under ten years old to sit still for twenty minutes a day.

Meditation stayed with me over the years. Teenage years saw me meditating less. As I grew older, I realized the need, value, and purpose of it in my life. I would call myself a sporadic TMer. I try to do it each week, sometimes I'm on par every day, other times meditation takes a back seat to self-hypnosis or listening to a Robert Monroe CD (another form of transcendental consciousness, much like guided hypnosis).

There are people like David Lynch who began practicing TM at the same time I did and has NOT MISSED ONE DAY of twice daily, twenty minute meditation. I am floored by his discipline. My dad has that kind of discipline. I don't. I have periodic discipline. Here is a wonderful little book David Lynch wrote on the influence of TM in his life and film-making: Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness, and Creativity.



The only thing I take issue with is that in some ways TM has become elitist. It's expensive, about $2,000.00 to get initiated and receive a mantra.

Guru Dev, an enlightened Indian yogi, began transcendental meditation in order to bring a simple form of meditation to the masses. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (the face of TM) was a university physics student in India when he heard about Guru Dev. He became a devotee. Guru Dev told Maharishi that his assignment was to bring meditation west. And so he did. That's when the Beatles got involved and it really took off.

I believe the intention of both Guru Dev and Maharishi were pure. I also believe most people involved in TM have pure intentions, but when our family got initiated, it cost us $25.00 a piece. Two thousand dollars is simply too expensive, in my opinion. As a hypnotherapist, I understand the value of charging enough so that people take their practice seriously. If I charge too little, I notice that clients are more inclined to cancel, not show up at all, "forget" to do the homework, and basically, put little effort into their healing. But there has to be a happy-medium. To be fair to TM, there are scholarship programs available, so anyone who sincerely wants to be a part of TM, can be. That's good.

The David Lynch Foundation, for instance, is teaching TM (giving scholarships to) inner city school kids, war veterans, homeless people, and those imprisoned, with great success.

After watching the Oprah special, I was inspired to up my TM practice to the twenty minute, twice-daily routine. My boyfriend Brad, also a TMer, is on board, as well. We particularly enjoy meditating together.

So I'm going to blog about my journey of the next thirty days of TM and let you know what changes I see in myself when I practice this technique regularly. I am hoping it motivates me to keep going for the rest of my life.

I'm sure the OWN network will be airing the segment again, and it's just a matter of time before they put the entire episode online, but here is a sneak peek at "America's Most Unusual Town."




Off to TM. Day 1. 

For more information on TM, the most scientifically studied form of meditation, visit. www.tm.org.


Meatless Monday Recipe: Peanut Butter Dog Treats: "Kookies."

 

Photo: Brad Klopman

Did you know that the world's oldest living dog is a vegan named Brambles? If you'd like to check out this amazing being who could teach us all a thing or two about food, both for ourselves and our pets, click here.

My previous dog, Mason, died of kidney failure, and with 20 fatty tumors plaguing his poor body. I have no doubt it was because I fed him commercialized dog food.

When I adopted Kansas he had degenerative back disease and hip dysplasia from the get-go. He walked like an old man, even as a puppy. I began researching, and found that not only was the cause a lack of proper nutrition, but the solution was also to be found in nutrition.

In fact, there were no cases of hip dysplasia in dogs before commercialized dog food, like 60 years ago. And dogs' ancestors, like wolves, do not have hip dysplasia either. Interesting, no? I wrote a blog post about it. Check it out here.

The post also contains a recipe for stew that I make Kansas each week. His diet is 75% vegan. And although I was told Kansas would not live a long life, he's going strong at 7 years old. (Update: Kansas died January 4th, 2015 from heart failure.)

As Hippocrates, the founder of medicine, said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."

Not only do I make Kansas his food, but I also make his treats. I've adapted this recipe from others and added flax seeds for extra nutrition. I've made these many times without flax seeds though. And I have yet to meet a dog who doesn't love them!

Peanut Butter Dog Kookies (K for Kansas)

1/2 cups peanut butter (I use all-natural.)

1 cup water

2 Tablespoons oil (Dogs naturally love refined coconut oil, but you can use vegetable or canola oil.)

1/8 cup ground flax seeds

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 cups white flour

Preheat oven to 350. Mix peanut butter and water and oil, add flax seeds, then slowly add the rest of the ingredients. Knead dough.

I roll the dough out to 1/4" and use a cookie cutter. But you could also just make the dough into a long cylinder shape and slice pieces to flatten. (I mark them with a "K," because I'm ridiculous like that.)

Bake for 25 minutes on ungreased cookie sheet. Let cool on cookie sheet.

The flax seeds make this a bit gooey because flax seeds by nature are an egg substitute that I use in baking. I usually bake the kookies a bit longer when I use flax seeds.

The treats do go bad so I usually leave about 10 out and refrigerate the rest.

Here's Kansas eating a kookie this morning. A happy peanut butter loving dog!

 

Photo: Brad Klopman

Your Daily Grind is Your India

Hi Friends!


So I'm taking this week off to finish writing my book, YOU'RE ALREADY HYPNOTIZED: A GUIDE TO WAKING UP. Yeah, I know, I've been saying that for years now. But believe it or not, I really do see the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm just working on final, final edits. I've decided to make it an ebook available for download and for electronic readers, so I've still got to get the cover designed and figure out exactly how to go about making an ebook. I have also recorded about forty hypnotherapy sessions that will be available with the workbook section of the book that I need to somehow get on a new site for downloading. (If you have any suggestions or know how to do this, please email me.) In the meantime, here's an excerpt from my book. Thanks for your support. We'll talk soon. Now back to the grind. 


Excerpt from YOU'RE ALREADY HYPNOTIZED: A GUIDE TO WAKING UP.


Over the past nine years as a hypnotherapist, I have seen a thousand clients with a thousand different issues, and though I treat each client individually, at the root, every problem is the same: We are asleep. We don’t remember who we are. We have forgotten our identity as children of God—or goddess, love, our higher self, truth, spirit, source, the universe, or whatever you prefer to call that spiritual apex—and that forgetfulness has caused a sleep-like state that has manifested into myriad specific problems seemingly “out there."


To heal is to awaken. But we must first understand that we are asleep before we can awaken. Only then can we begin the process of undoing the false ideas we have accepted into our mind. Healing doesn’t actually require us to do anything. Rather, we must undo the roadblocks or, as I call it, “de-hypnotize” or “deprogram” ourselves.


The path of awakening is highly individualized. For some, the most spiritual and healing thing they can do is daily meditation. For others, however, it is to get out of the house and get a job, or learn about food and lose weight, or give up alcohol. By tackling the behavior, they develop the self-esteem needed to look at the underlying issue. It would be silly to tell a heroin addict to reflect on his deeply buried psychological and spiritual issues. He couldn’t do it. But if you change the behavior first by getting him clean, he would then have the capacity and perhaps the willingness to look at the cause of his addiction.



I’m not here to decide whether meditating or getting sober or finding a job is the right place to begin your awakening. I don’t have enough information to make that call. That’s why this book addresses common issues from all levels: physical, psychological, and spiritual. How do you determine the most “spiritual” thing to do? It varies with circumstance. It wouldn’t be mindful to pay for yoga classes every day if you owed people money. It wouldn’t be enlightened to follow a guru for months while neglecting your children, or spend hours in meditation in a filthy house. It wouldn’t be virtuous to teach healthy living while secretly living as an addict. Nor would it be holy to care about people, but not about animals and the environment, or vice versa.


This doesn’t mean that we have to be perfect before we do what we feel guided to do or are passionate about. If we all waited until then, we wouldn’t start anything. It just means we must be honest with ourselves. Awakening requires a certain amount of consistency. The outer and the inner need to reflect each other as much as possible. But until we are healed, we will be dreadfully inconsistent.


I remember a client who said her life’s goal was “to achieve enlightenment,” yet as we talked, I noticed she had trouble standing up for herself—she was scared to quit a job she was miserable in and too insecure to leave an unhappy marriage. I wanted to tell her, “If you’re too afraid to change jobs, you’re not exactly ready to transcend mortality.” But I didn’t. In hindsight, maybe I should have. The best I could do for her was to help her gain enough self-respect and confidence to be decisive and communicate her needs. Once she achieved that, her life took off. She switched jobs, got a divorce and a new boyfriend, and is much more fulfilled.


We can’t skip steps up the ladder of enlightenment. Our quest begins right here, today, exactly as we are. It’s true that no one becomes enlightened with a drinking problem. And no one can love herself, yet hate her thighs. No one is free who carries monstrous debt. And no one reaches self-mastery by being duplicitous, hurtful, or despising himself or anyone else. Not because we’re being punished if we do those things, but because our choice to do those things blocks our highest self.


Enlightened people don’t need drugs, food, people, or things in order to do, change, cause or fulfill anything.  They have no lack. They’ve awakened to the truth that all they need is within. Our wounded behavior reflects our sleeping mind. And a sleeping mind is not aware it is sleeping. It desperately and unsuccessfully looks for its identity in the world. Our only real purpose here is to wake up. We begin that process by using whatever is in front of us—addictions, phobias, grievances. Anything can lead to awakening if we follow it far enough.


Carl Jung, the Swiss psychologist, hypothesized that we spend the first half of our lives developing an ego and the second half trying to get rid of it. I interpret this to mean that we must express individuality before we can know oneness. That’s why people rarely seek to know their spiritual self in their youth. They’re too busy figuring out who they are in the world. We first need to know how different we are from everyone else and gain confidence in ourselves before we can see the truth that underneath it all we are all the same. We must develop a keen sense of our individualized, egoic self before we can transcend that self—only then do we become truly revolutionary.


The spiritual journey is an inward journey of awakening your mind, not an outward excursion. You don’t have to trek through India, do yoga, or spend long hours meditating. All those things can be important if you feel guided to do them, and certainly the world would be a better place if we all stilled our minds each day, but everyone’s path is different. It’s a mistake to think the spiritual path is big and fancy and brightly lit or that it involves only what we think of as “spiritual.” The spiritual path is actually quite small and quiet and doesn’t necessarily look good in purple. It’s so humble that we constantly overlook it. You may be expecting a magic wand to change everything while neglecting the potential miracle of growth right in front of you.


Your daily grind is your India. It is the spiritual classroom you chose in order to learn your life lessons. Each new day brings you to a precipice with the opportunity to leap into greater awareness. You just don’t see it because it’s hidden in the mundane like washing dishes after you use them, accepting your body as it is, letting go of addictions, being able to receive a compliment or say “no,” or “yes,” learning to walk away or to stay, choosing love when you want to choose fear, and finishing what you start. Those perfunctory tasks can teach us the mindful qualities of integrity, discipline, honesty, responsibility, and respect—all necessary ingredients for self-realization.


That’s why Buddhist monks lead simple lives: wake up, meditate, eat breakfast, clean, meditate, eat lunch, meditate some more, prepare dinner, meditate again, bathe, and sleep. Their day-to-day routines rarely change. Nisargadatta Maharaj, arguably the greatest Indian sage, was the keeper of a small goods store and lived in a very modest apartment on a crowded street in Bombay. People flocked to his apartment from around the world, crowding each other to sit on his bare floor and listen to the wisdom of non-dualism that flowed. Nisargadatta’s life was uncomplicated and ordinary in form, but extraordinary in content.

Vegetarianism and Blood/Body Types

The first part of this post is written by me as a lead in to Daniel Kucan's post which follows. 


If I were told that in order to live a long healthy life I would have to eat meat, I wouldn’t do it. If I were told that it would make me feel better and look better, I wouldn’t do it. If I were told that it was for my blood type or my body type, I wouldn’t do it. If I were dying and someone said that I just might live if I ate meat, I still wouldn’t do it. Lucky for me, researchers have found that the healthiest diet for human beings is a vegetarian diet. Not for some human beings, but for all human beings.

Studies show vegans and vegetarians live 6-10 years longer than meat eaters. They’ve also found incidents of cancer and heart disease and strokes and diabetes and Alzheimer’s and osteoporosis and high blood pressure and a whole host of other serious health issues are significantly lower in vegetarians and even lower still in vegans than in meat eaters. Yet, none of those are the reasons I am vegan. Those things are just the proverbial icing. Nice side effects. Bonuses.

The reason I wouldn’t eat meat even if it were the best thing for me is the same reason Gandhi didn’t drink cow’s milk on his deathbed when doctors ordered him to do so or die—because most of the meat and dairy we consume is a product of horrific cruelty. And I have always known with everything that I am that what isn’t good for an animal isn’t good for me. And that’s good enough for me. I don’t need to hear someone rattle off the health benefits. I’m sold on pain and suffering. I hear that and I’m out.

When people say, “I can’t be vegetarian because it’s not for my blood type.” I want to say, “What blood type is that? Cold-blooded?” I’m astounded that we care more about a fad diet than years of sound evidence that clearly states NOT eating animals is the healthy way to go. I’m even more shocked that we care more about this diet than the fact that millions of animals are suffering in silence, hidden away from our protected eyes and ears.

Dogs and cats and horses all have different blood types within their breed. And some horses don’t “have to eat meat” while other horses are better off with plants. All horses eat the same—on all seven continents. Just like all cows. And gorillas. And elephants. And so on. It should also be noted that horses, cows, gorillas, and elephants are four of the strongest animals in the world, and they’re herbivores!

Human bodies are not elite bodies. The human body isn’t more of a miracle than a cat’s body. We’ve just decided it is. With varying degrees, generally, all of these bodies have the same needs: food, sleep, water, sex, and activity. They all have hearts and lungs and a sense of smell and sight. In fact, our human body is often slower, weaker, and less agile than many animals. So what makes us think the human body is so much more special than a horse’s body? How much better could our bodies be if we have astoundingly higher rates of disease than animals’ bodies? What makes us believe that we are the only species of bodies that have to eat differently among us? 

I contend that all human bodies need the same fundamental diet, just like all other animals left to their own devices would eat the same things within their breed. As studies continue to show, ALL human bodies live longer, healthier lives on a plant based diet. In a later post I will write about how the human body is most similar to herbivores (teeth, intestines, without claws) and radically different from carnivores. We have not always eaten meat, we have been conditioned to eat meat. As the ADA (American Dietetic Association) says, “Most of mankind for most of human history has lived on a vegetarian or Lacto-ovo vegetarian diet.”

Today as I was mulling over this whole blood type theory, and the myth I think it is, it dawned on me that there was only one person I should turn to to get another opinion—my whip smart, funny, thoughtful, vegan, animal rescuer, super fit, ex-physical trainer, television personality from Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and now star of HGTV’s Desperate Spaces, friend: Daniel Kucan.

Here’s what he sent back. (Scroll down to see his post.) I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks for taking the time to be a guest blogger, Daniel. I still believe in astrology though. 

 

The Magick Behind "Eat Right 4 Your Type"
and the Difference Between Thinking and Believing
by Daniel Kucan


My first guest blogger and I couldn't be more happy to have him! None other than Daniel Kucan, television personality from "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and HGTV's "Desperate Spaces." (The above post explains why I asked Daniel to give us his take on this subject.)

There are all sorts of stories that I wish were true. There are fairy tales, urban legends, creation stories, pseudo-scientific theorems, all manner of folksy bits of wisdom that appeal to me on a sort of mythic, dramatic level. Or, and I find this aspect of myself even more disturbing, I occasionally find myself believing an inscrutable story because it speaks to my prejudices and predispositions; I often make the conscious decision to believe something because it is useful as evidence to support a position upon which I have already made a choice.

I believe it is this exact same principal that makes people believe in astrology. It’s lovely for a complete stranger to tell us “you have a lot of unused potential” or that “you will soon experience a big change.” In my opinion, we believe these things because we want to.

I have no doubt that it’s this exact same phenomenon that explains why the “Eat Right 4 Your Type” fad diet is being accepted as even mildly valid. The blood type diet is advocated most famously by naturopathic physician Peter D’Adamo. (Anyone rational should have huge issues with the term “naturopathic physician” anyway. It is exactly as oxymoronic as “creation science,” but that’s a subject for a different article.) D’Adamo’s thesis is that, as human beings evolved, they moved throughout different parts of the planet and developed certain dietary requirements based on the locations in which they now found themselves. Since blood type also seems to coincide with certain geological locales, D’Adamo links these two things and “presto!”, he can now magically tell you what you should be eating.

And it’s really that simple, and really that magical. While there is a certain appeal to the notion that those of us with ancestral ties to the Himalayan Mountains should be eating foods that were plentiful there, there is no scientific justification for this at all. There have been no peer reviewed studies to support this theory, and in fact, D’Adamo himself hasn’t published any studies, although he claims to be conducting them. Likewise, anyone with even a fair understanding of evolution knows that the timeline proposed by D’Adamo doesn’t provide nearly enough time for this to have occurred. 

The other fly in D’Adamo’s ointment is that, sometimes, people do get really sick. What happens then? What happens when someone has been eating right for their blood type, and they get an infection and develop kidney disease, or they smoke and are stressed out and they have a heart attack? Now, they have to change their eating habits in order to minimize their risk of further damage. But their blood type HASN’T CHANGED, only their dietary restrictions. There is NO EVIDENCE linking blood type and the body’s ability to absorb nutrients. 

The most preposterous bit of hokum is when D’Adamo claims that eating wrong for your blood type can cause blood agglutination, where the red blood cells start to stick together and clot. Blood agglutination kills people. It is not caused by eating the wrong kind of toast, or eating too many grains when I should be having a starch. 

The question is further clouded by a particularly pernicious turn in the dietary advice D’Adamo suggests. More than half the country is type O, and the diet given for type O is a completely reasonable, healthy, well balanced one. Anyone who was to follow this diet, would almost certainly lose weight and feel good. Since statistically more than half the people reading the book and following that diet will get good results, good testimonials are a sure thing. 

I am not so cynical as to suggest that D’Adamo has done this on purpose, but it wouldn’t surprise me either. Book sales are books sales, after all. 

I have a particular disdain for this type of pseudo-science. It plays on our romantic notions of uniqueness and our craving for history and ancestral ties. It’s a beguiling fairy tale to be sure, but until someone can do a double blind study that statistically proves it, it’s a fairy tale nonetheless. But quackery like this also relies on the idea that, as long as it makes emotional sense, then we will accept it as truth. 

Let’s be honest. If no one had proven that the Earth moves around the sun, then I wouldn’t believe it. It just doesn’t make emotional sense. I believe, deep down, that the Earth is the center of the universe, even though it’s completely, demonstrably false. Or flying; I don’t for a second believe that an airplane can fly. An airplane is like a gazillion pounds of metal and polyester, it can’t possibly fly. But I know that it will. It is this conflict between what we “think” and what we “believe” that provides a platform upon which folks like D’Adamo can build their “science.” 

I refuse to seek answers grounded in irrationality. I demand to look beyond my prejudices, my simplistic, emotional demands. Simply because something pulls at our emotional strings or makes sense in a mythic way, does not make it science, and I refuse to base my ethical decisions upon it; and you probably shouldn’t bet your health on it.


Dreams: A Royal Road to Knowing Thyself

 

The interpretation of dreams is the royal road to a knowledge of the unconscious activities of the mind. -Sigmund Freud

We’ve all skidded by on our good looks and charm long enough. In this New Year, it’s time we use more of ourselves, not just to help ourselves and the world, but to know ourselves. That is, after all, why we're all here.

I contend that the subconscious mind is our most highly underutilized tool. We know our conscious mind all too well; it’s always chattering. The conscious mind is the analytical, logical, willful, judgmental, discerning part of ourselves. Necessary, but not who we are.

There is a “hidden” part, the subconscious mind, that holds deeper truths and vast untapped potential. And I don’t mean potential in acquiring things like in The Secret-type stuff. (Aren’t we beyond all that ego-driven “get, get, get” “me, me, me” mentally? That’s all just child’s play that keeps us stuck in the illusions of this world.) I mean, using this hidden part of ourselves that we know very little about to come to realize our true potential.

In short, the subconscious mind is the picture mind and feeling mind because it’s the storehouse of all of our memories—from this life, past-lives, even natal (womb memory)—and it’s the feeling mind because it is the seat of our emotions. It's also a wellspring of creativity, and a link to other states of consciousness and awareness. Through the subconscious we can even access the Divine, amongst other things.

If we use the perennial iceberg metaphor, the conscious mind is the small visible tip of the iceberg above the water's surface while the mass and strength and power and driving force of the iceberg floats below the water's surface. This is our subconscious. We can’t glimpse it with our conscious mind. We need a different type of vision.

Accessing this deeper part of ourselves requires going under the water’s surface. Two ways of diving into those bottomless waters and exploring the subconscious are hypnosis and dreaming. Both are natural states of mind that we experience within any given 24-hour period—one during the day, the other at night.

The hypnotic state is an altered state (as opposed to our usual conscious state) of awareness whereby we have bypassed the conscious mind. Watching television, daydreaming, driving on the freeway, being in the “zone” while playing a sport or painting or writing can put us into this state by collapsing, so to speak, the analytical mind, giving way to the subconscious. We’re no longer thinking critically, rather we are allowing, responding, receiving or creating from a stream of consciousness.

We also bypass the conscious mind through nighttime dreaming. Although both hypnosis and dreaming are natural states of mind that we don’t consciously conjure up, they can be honed and utilized as tools for self-realization, or to just help us find a misplaced sentimental necklace. The possibilities are endless.

Neither state needs to be taught, each needs to be cultivated. Today we will focus on accessing our subconscious through dreams. In a later post, we'll talk about doing it through self-hypnosis.

We all dream, we just don’t remember our dreams, at least not all the time. But that’s only because we don’t care to remember them. If we wanted to remember our dreams, we would. (On a side note, I have noticed in my practice that clients who smoke cigarettes or pot have a much more difficult time accessing their dreams.)

I encourage you to want to remember your dreams. Within your dreaming mind are messages, ideas, potentiality, dimensions of reality, creativity, connection with others, teachers, those that have lived before, time and space travel, your Higher Self, and the location of your lost necklace.

Don’t take my word for it, here is what

Seth

says about dreams:

When I speak of the dream world, I am not referring to some imaginary realm, but to the kind of world of ideas, of thoughts, of mental actions, out of which all form as you think it emerges. In actuality, this is an inner universe rather than an inner world. Your physical reality is but one materialization of that inner organization. All possible civilizations exist first in that realm of the inner mind.

And I like what

Edgar Cayce

says:

Man approaches the more intimate conditions of that field of the inner self when the conscious self is at rest in sleep or slumber, at which time more of the inner forces are taken into consideration and studied by the individual.... It is each individual's job...to understand his individual condition, his individual position in relation to others, his individual manifestation, through his individual receiving of messages from the higher forces themselves, thus, through dreams.

I have been studying and using my dream-state for years. For some reason, in the last couple of years, one thing that state has made me become psychically aware of is earthquakes. In May of 2008, I woke up and said, “There’s been an earthquake.” I turned on my computer and saw that 10,000 people had died in an earthquake in China while I slept. I said the same thing the morning of the Indonesian earthquake.

It might have to do with the fact that when I fall asleep at night I ask my consciousness to be of service to the world in any way it can to whomever needs me during my sleeping hours. Of course, this starts with the idea that 1. I am not my physical body and 2. that my mind is joined to the mind of every mind. In other words, there’s really only one of us here. My understanding of the nature of reality rests on these premises. My point being, we spend a third of our lives asleep, why not use it for healing ourselves and helping others?

I've also used the dream-state to communicate with people who can't communicate with me on the physical level, like deceased relatives, philosophers from times of antiquity, even a little boy I used to work with who had severe autism. He didn't speak, but in my dreams we conversed.

My friends, the resources are limitless.

Here are some of my tips to remembering your dreams.

Before falling asleep:

  1. Put a special notepad just for dreaming by your bed. Title it “Dream Journal.” And write the date. Start tomorrow. Jan. 1. 2010. Or if you’re serious, get a voice-activated tape recorder. They probably have an app for that. (No, I don’t know if they do or don’t.) But with voice activation you don’t have to fumble for a pen and paper or turn on the light. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve written down a long, very important dream in the middle of the night only to wake up and find that I wrote over the same line twenty times. I thought I wrote a whole page of notes, but I scribbled one jumbled, illegible sentence.
  2. Tell yourself before falling asleep, “I want to remember my dreams and I will remember my dreams.” And feel that desire. It’s a desire to know yourself. We should all have a deep desire for that. In fact, that should be our deepest desire. Get in touch with it and say it with all the meaning you can muster.
  3. Then, if you have an issue that needs resolving, talk to your subconscious, “I ask my subconscious to help me resolve ________ through my dreams tonight.” Or “I ask my subconscious to help me know the right thing to do about _______ when I awaken.” Or "Give me the message in my dreams as to what is causing this illness, or how I can begin to heal it." Or something like that. You get the idea.

When you awaken:

Take a moment to check in with yourself. Be still and reflect on the issue that needed resolution. Notice what your instinct tells you to do to resolve it. Usually, it’s not what your conscious mind would say if you asked it after lunch. Upon awakening, your conscious mind isn’t quite back in full-

atencion!

-force; use that leftover dreamy link to your subconscious to know the right action.

Now write down what you remember from your dreams and analyze it. You don’t need a book. You are the best interpreter of your dreams. If you don’t remember anything write “nothing.” At least you’re putting energy in the direction of remembrance. Willingness is the key that opens the door to your subconscious.

If you just have a feeling, write that down. Start somewhere. Then ask yourself, “What is it about myself (or this problem) that makes me feel _______?” If you only remember a color, write it down. “Blue.” Then ask yourself, “How does blue make me feel?” “Calm” or “It reminds me of when I lived near the ocean.” Write it down.

If all you recall is a single symbol (symbolism, by the way, is the language of the unconscious.) write that down, “Tree.” What does a tree mean to you? List some descriptive words for a tree. How do trees make you feel? Do you have a favorite tree? What could a tree be a metaphor for in your life? Protection? Needing to be rooted? Nature?

Then title the dream, “Tree.” And turn the page for the next night’s dream.

Keep doing this and soon enough your sleepy subconscious will shake off the dust and get to work for you. It’s like a beautiful, luxurious car that’s been sitting in the garage for years while you’ve been trekking twenty miles in the snow every day to work because you forgot you had it. It may take a few tries to start the car, but once you do, it will open up a whole new, interesting and fun world.

Sometimes you won’t know the meaning of the dream until months or years later. You will be amazed to look back in your journal only to realize that a particular dream was actually a premonition, that the event unfolded exactly as you had dreamed it.

The subconscious is so much wiser than the conscious mind that the conscious mind doesn’t even know how much it doesn’t know. This year, seek to know what you didn't know you knew. "Know thyself," through dreaming.

Check out these books to learn more:

Edgar Cayce on Dreams

by Robert Waggoner

Interpretation of Dreams

by Sigmund Freud

12 Keys to Life

1. Do not be guided by fear.

There is nothing more detrimental than making decisions out of fear.

2. Seek not to be loved, but to be loving.

My clients are generally single men and women in their thirties and forties. And most of them are unhappy. The rest of my clients are in relationships, and guess what? They’re unhappy too. So who’s happy? Well, I know a few and their happiness has nothing to do with a partner or lack thereof. We have been programmed to believe that if we just find the right partner our problems will be solved. But I’m sorry to say it is an illusion. Sure, you can be fulfilled with a partner but you can also be fulfilled without one. What you seek is within. Everyday my prayer is the same, “Help me become more loving.” Let go of the need to be loved and seek instead to be loving. Only then will you find true fulfillment.

3. Pick a spiritual path.

And stick to it. All of our problems would disappear if we committed to daily spiritual practice. Truth is simple. You can read about this in an earlier post.

4. Read great writers and philosophers.

Studying people who are smarter than us is crucial because there is nothing more important than knowing we may not be right. Here are some books I like.

5. Listen to music.

Crank up one good song a day. Start with this video of Unity by Trevor Hall featuring Matisyahu

6. Clean yourself up

Release your past. Heal your addictions. Let go of debilitating emotions. And don't spend a ton of time and money trying to do it. Go through my $1.99 hypnosis MP3 downloads on a wide variety of topics and begin healing today! 

7. Surround yourself with people who can teach you.

This is easy and the pay-off is huge. Wise people push you. They hold you accountable. They don’t necessarily coddle you, they elevate you. There’s a reason a lot of enlightened people have gurus. Every smart person had a teacher.

8. Give away what you don't need.

Good feng shui and good karma. Your home, your closet, your office--it's all a  reflection of your mind.

9. Maintain integrity.

Your self-respect is all you’ve got. Treasure it.

10. Become vegan.

Becoming vegan is like volunteering. That's how I see it. There seems to be a sacrifice involved but it’s really a gift that comes back to you a hundred-fold. I have not experienced a single choice that has had such beautiful and far-reaching effects, not only in the world, the environment, and the animal kingdom, but in my own life and body as well. Start small. Educate yourself on what you're eating and where your "food" comes from. Check out Go Veg to get started.

11. Don't procrastinate.

The world awaits your gifts. We need your vision, your talent, your perspective, your ideas. I guarantee you, depression is inevitable if you don't apply yourself. Reread number 1.

12. Be of service.

Adopt a pet, or a child. Volunteer. In the least, smile and say hello to those you pass along your way. If there is no love or joy in your life it can only be because you are not giving love or joy.

All of these keys have one thing in common: they are challenging. In this world of complacency and complicity, we have gotten lazy. And it shows. I understand the pull towards indolence, I fight it on a daily basis, but it is a battle that must be fought. It is only through challenging ourselves that we heal, that the world become a better place, and that we achieve greater things. If not you, who? You are the who we are waiting for.


Yes, I Make My Dog a Stew

 
Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.--Hippocrites (Greek, 460 BC.) Founder of medicine and considered the greatest physician of all time.

As I write this the crockpot stew I'm making for my dog Kansas, a five-year old Australian Shepherd/Lab/Golden Retriever mutt, is wafting through the house. Call me crazy. Call him spoiled. I call it good health.

Kansas has had hip dysplasia since he was a puppy. Vets have all said the same thing, "It's genetic. There's not much that can be done except hip replacement later down the road." Well, that answer was never good enough for me. I'm Scorpio Rising. We research. I embarked on my own investigation and came to the conclusion that canine hip dysplasia isn't genetic. It's nutritional. Mostly, a Vitamin C deficiency.

Vitamin C is necessary to build collagen, which holds bones in their joints. Hip dysplasia is more common in large breed dogs because their bones are growing bigger at faster rate, and without the proper vitamins and minerals their joints and tissues can't develop properly and do their job.

There is an interesting article by Sylvia Hammarstrom, a large dog breeder for fifty years, about this very subject here.

Partly to blame for hip dysplasia is commercialized dog food, not the poor dog's mom or dad. You see, canine hip dysplasia is relatively new. Before commercialized dog food, say fifty years ago, hip dysplasia was nonexistent. Back in the day, dogs ate scraps--fresh and nutritious foods. Today most canned and dry dog food is rubbish. We're asking dogs to survive on a diet of processed junk food. No wonder dogs have so many allergies and skin problems.

We wouldn't feed a child a can of processed food every day of his life or a scoopful of fortified cereal and expect him to be healthy. To me, it's simple physiology. Bones and tissues and blood and organs and nervous systems need vitamins and minerals that come from healthy foods--whether those bones are in a child, an adult, or a dog. A bone is a bone is a bone.

Have you ever read the label of some of those dogs foods? They say, "animal meat" or "animal byproduct" or "meat byproduct." Animal meat? Is the animal so abhorrent that they can't name it? Yes, it is. It can be ANY animal. A rat, a dog, a horse (commonly used), or roadkill. I once read about a woman who found a rabies tag in a can of dog food. True or false, I don't know. But I don't doubt it. I mean, think about what goes into a hotdog, and that's for human consumption.

Kansas went to a well-known holistic vet once and he said feed him people food. (Though I don't think he meant pizza, more like veggies, etc.) Interesting. Looking back, our family dog growing up, Sport, used to only eat table scraps. When we were done with breakfast or dinner we would put our plates on the floor and Sport cleaned them up. He lived a long healthy life, and I don't remember that we ever took him to the vet, not once.

One of my biggest regrets with my dog before Kansas, Mason, is that I forgot all this and fed him canned and dry food throughout his life. He developed numerous fatty tumors all over his body. I am sure it was due to his diet. And he died of kidney failure. Remember two years ago when there was that big pet food recall? The dogs who ate the contaminated food died of kidney failure. A life of processed food can't be easy on the kidneys.

Dogs are akin to wolves, being their domesticated subspecies. Wolves have balanced diets because they eat plants, fruit, grass, berries, and also birds, elk, fish, and all kinds of animals that are herbivores so they absorb what those animals have digested. And I'm pretty sure wolves don't have hip dysplasia.

All I know is that Kansas' hips are at least 50% better since I've been feeding him this stew. He's no longer scratching as much, his allergies have all but disappeared, he's spunkier, and he's walking better.

Here's my recipe. Although it's basically a hodgepodge of whatever I have on hand. Throw this all into a crockpot:

1 pound free range, organic turkey 

1-2 c. water (just enough to then be able to liquify it all in the end)

1 zucchini, sliced

1 yellow squash, sliced

1 yam or sweet potato or regular potato, sliced

1 tomato, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

1 c. green beans

1 c. peas

2 carrots, sliced

1/2 c. blueberries (optional, some dogs don't like it, too sweet)

sprinkle of flax seeds

Sometimes I toss in a 1/2 c. rice if his stool is loose, but you have to add a little more water. And you can also throw a raw egg on top, too. 

Also, this can be made vegan, which I do frequently. Kansas diet is 80% vegan (veggies, fruits, grains) and 20% meat (and that is only chicken or turkey). He does get some kibble, but usually it's vegan, and it's supplemental to his main meals. I give him high quality organic kibble only for the extra added vitamins and minerals he may need. 

Before including other veggies make sure to check their toxicity for dogs. I know there is some debate about broccoli, so I usually skip it. The ASPCA has a list of what not to feed your dog.

Cook on high for about 5 hours, or until everything is soft, then scoop it into a blender or food processor to puree. It usually lasts about a week in the refrigerator. I feed him 2 cups for breakfast and 2 cups for dinner (it's mostly veggies so there aren't many calories, you need to feed much more than usual!) or I'll throw it over a can of some outrageously expensive organic dog food. He always has kibble sitting out to munch on, too.

Speaking of which, I've had 3 dogs and none of them have had any "food issues" like stealing food, aggression over food or over eating, and I firmly believe that's because they always have a full bowl of kibble left out for them. They know there is an abundance of food, and therefore they never have to worry or wonder if another meal is coming. It has created, without a doubt, a calm, laid back attitude towards food. Your dog might overeat in the beginning, but once he/she realizes that there is always enough food, he/she will adjust to a balanced appetite. I find that dogs overeat because they do not feel there is enough food or they are missing nutrients from poor quality food or they're just plain hungry. 

Although cooking homemade dog food sounds indulgent it's just common sense. This stew is actually cheaper than buying high quality dog food. Plus, it has saved me a ton of money on vet bills. And it makes Kansas happy and healthier. Good enough for me.

(That's him above having just licked his plate.)

You can make this for cats as well, but don't add root veggies like yams and potatoes which are toxic to cats.

For more info visit:  Truth About Pet Food and click here.

The Quiet Mind

 

In quietness are all things answered, and is every problem quietly resolved. - A Course in Miracles

I have heard it said that prayer is asking for help and meditation is receiving the answer. If that’s the case, we are much better askers than listeners. Everybody has prayed, but few listen. That, however, is beginning to change. Meditation—the process of stilling the mind—has busted out of the closet it’s been hiding in for the last thirty years.

As far as I can tell, its rise in popularity is due to three things.

1. Information. Scientific studies “proving” the benefits of meditation with respect to our physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing are making their way into mainstream media. Transcendental Meditation, for instance, is the most widely practiced and scientifically studied form of meditation with over 600 studies to date.

2. Desperation. I’ve always thought desperation was highly underrated. It has been a driving force for drastic change in my life on more than one occasion. When we’re desperate, we are willing to try just about anything to surmount our problems—whether it be stress, illness, or general life malaise.

3. Increased awareness. There is a rise in the collective unconscious moving toward all things spiritual. In other words, meditation is trendy. We can only hope it’s a trend that sticks. After all, it was in vogue in the 60’s and 70’s but definitely kooky through the 80’s and 90’s.

We see and hear about meditation everywhere now, not just in spiritual circles. Television commercials are even jumping on the bandwagon. I recently saw a commercial for yogurt that featured a woman sitting in the lotus position immersed in meditation. You mean if I spend money on eating dairy I’ll start meditating and become enlightened? Oh, don’t get me started….

Some medical doctors now prescribe meditation for their patients, and Fortune 500 companies offer meditation respite programs for their employees, even professional sports teams are participating in various techniques. These corporations and athletes may not be looking for peace as much as to cure ailments, produce happier employees, make larger profits or secure wins, but whatever the case, they have learned what the wisest among us have known for centuries—meditation makes us better.

When I was initiated into the Transcendental Meditation program, meditation was not commonplace. I learned the technique, but I wasn’t quite sure why I was doing it. I was only seven. I did know two things. 1. It somehow felt meaningful and 2. My family were the only meditators on the block—maybe even the whole city. Meditation embarrassed me. I told my friends it was just about “relaxing.”

Meditation is about relaxing, but it is much more than that. In quietness, we reconnect with our Source. Call that God, truth, love, universal consciousness, or your higher self--it doesn’t matter.

But in those moments something magical happens. We transform.

Quieting the mind redirects our worldly focus within. Through this process, we reach deep levels of heightened awareness. The attainment of this awareness is very important because it reminds us of what is true. Truth is not found in the world. Truth is within. The world gives us a false identity; we look within when we want to know what is real.

In those moments, we break free from the onerous chains of false ideas imposed upon us by ourselves, others, and society. The more we are reminded of that truth, the more freely we demonstrate it in the world. We become different; as a result, our life becomes different.

David Lynch is a good example. You know, the enigmatic filmmaker of Twin Peaks fame and movies like Blue Velvet and Mulholland Drive. He’s different, for sure. And his creativity is beyond. Mr. Lynch has been practicing Transcendental Meditation for over thirty years. We get an insightful glimpse into his world through his short and immensely enjoyable book Catching the Big Fish: Meditation, Consciousness and Creativity.

As he says, meditation is the key to life, peace, and creativity.

I don’t believe we can achieve anything truly innovative, interesting, creative, lasting, worthwhile, or meaningful without first going within. In stillness, our mind expands. We tap in to a well of infinite possibilities, and we listen. Everything is realigned, giving us a proper perspective. When we come back to this world, we can’t help but make better choices because we are in our right mind. And by the way, meditation as I speak of it here is only one way to accomplish that.

Although we access what I like to think of as our natural state in meditation, it doesn’t come easily. First, you have to want it, and not many do. Second, you must place the quest for truth above all else, and only a few are willing. Third, it takes practice, which nobody has time for.

Stilling your mind feels counter-intuitive. We are taught to go out and make it happen. Take the bull by its horns. Be the fastest, the quickest. Get up and get going. The world doesn’t teach us to stop and meditate. This world is a world of ego, and the ego’s edict is Seek and do not find. It’s the opposite of truth’s motto: Go within and find.

If you are looking to quiet your mind, here are a few tips I've learned over the years. By the way, these tips are based on a mantra (word) style meditation, which I find to be the easiest.

  • Pick a time when you will not be disturbed and turn off the phone.
  • Find a comfortable place to sit. Always sit up. Otherwise, you will fall asleep.
  • Take a few deep breaths and with each exhale sink deeper down into relaxation.
  • After a minute or so, introduce a mantra or word such as “peace” “love” or the universal mantra“om.” (“Amen” is actually a mantra as well.)
  • Repeat the mantra in a friendly, relaxed way. Other thoughts will interfere, that’s fine. That's just what your ego and your conscious mind does. Don’t fight them, don’t favor them, don’t try to ignore them, don’t hope they go away, don’t get frustrated, don’t judge yourself, be with the thought, and then when you're ready, gently bring your mind back to repeating your chosen mantra-word.
  • When you get antsy and want to open your eyes, hang on and meditate for another minute or two. I find that’s when I go the deepest.
  • When you’re ready to stop, gently bring yourself back into the room.

Your smallest attempts will change you. Every effort is meaningful. Try at first to meditate for just five minutes a day. A Course in Miracles tells us that five minutes of a stilled mind will save you thousands of years. Begin there. Then extend that practice to as much as twenty minutes.

I think it’s better to be consistent for a shorter amount of time—five minutes every day—rather than longer durations less frequently, like twenty minutes twice a week.

And then forget about it until the next meditation. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, the founder, along with Guru Dev, of Transcendental Meditation, says meditating is like taking a bath. When you take a shower in the morning you don’t keep thinking about the shower throughout the day. You have done it, you’re clean, now you are free to move forward and focus on other things.

Stilling your mind can be frustrating at first. The ego will constantly interfere, proclaiming your efforts a waste of time. The ego thrives on chaos because it disappears in peace. Meditation means death to the ego. And the ego will do anything to stay alive. When you make any attempt to loosen its stranglehold, it will offer all kinds of distractions. Taking out the trash becomes all-important. Do not be discouraged. Starting anything new is difficult at first. Quieting the mind is no different. It’s like building a muscle that has atrophied.

With time, you will see and feel the results. With consistency, meditation moves from being a chore to a gift you give yourself.

The problem is not one of concentration; it is the belief that no one, including yourself is worth consistent effort.
--A Course in Miracles.

Gandhi's Greatest Regret? Milk.

My copy of Gandhi's autobiography The Story of My Experiments with Truth arrived a few weeks ago and Holy Cow! I have a newfound appreciation for Mahatma. I knew he was a vegetarian (oh, and that in his spare time he liberated India from British rule and single-handedly established the civil disobedience movement) but I had no idea he was the central figure in pioneering the animal rights crusade in India.

Do you know what this spiritual and political leader writes as the greatest "tragedy of my life"?

That he ever drank milk.

You see, Gandhi had made a lifelong vow never to drink a cow's milk due to "the torture to which cows were subjected by their keepers." He gave it up after vacationing at vegetarian Leo Tolstoy's home in which a discussion ensued about the harmful effect of drinking cow's milk.

From then on Gandhi eschewed animal products and considered nuts and fruit the optimal diet. He attributed this dietary choice to his very healthy and fit life. However, in 1914 he contracted a serious illness that dropped him near death's door. The attending physicians told Gandhi he would die if he didn't follow their strict order and drink a glass of cow's milk, which was a popular treatment back then. Gandhi compromised and drank goat's milk.

Gandhi's wife, Kasturba, had made a similar vow. As did their sons. She and Gandhi proclaimed they would rather die than drink cow's milk. And they meant it. Total radical nonconformists.

I haven't had a glass of milk since my mom had to pour it for me, but I was surprised at Gandhi's staunch stance on cow's milk when facing death. Then, there wasn't much information. You'd have thought he would've listened to the doctor. Then again, there wasn't dairy industry propaganda hypnotizing the masses into thinking it's healthy either. Today it's super easy to abstain from milk with all the more nourishing substitutes.

Gandhi knew the truth. The whole "milk does a body good" thing is a lie. It's a marketing ploy. It's their dirty secret. They don't care about our bodies. I always feel sorry for those celebrities with the idiotic milk mustaches who are oblivious to what they're promoting. (Oops, I'm veering into previously blogged territory.....)

Unlike Gandhi's day, we now know milk does a body no good. Well, we know if we research the people who are researching it. Milk is being targeted for all kinds of ailments, certain types of diabetes and cancer, even mental illness.

I've always had really strong fingernails that grow too fast. I guess they're noticeable because people have commented on them over the years. I tell them it's because I don't drink milk. I heard early on that drinking milk causes calcium loss.

Humans are not meant to digest cow's milk. It's too hard on our system and forces the human body to produce a gastric acid to break down the milk. The body then steals calcium from our bones to neutralize the acidic environment left behind.

Studies are revealing that--are you ready?--consuming milk causes osteoporosis! Countries where people have very little dairy intake rarely see cases of osteoporosis. We're not often told that green, leafy vegetables and nuts and seeds are high in calcium. The most calcium rich food? Dried herbs!

Also, milk (unless organic, and even organic isn't immune to its problems) is laden with antibiotics and growth hormones, which researchers link to the cause of young girls developing more quickly and getting their periods, thus pregnant, at an earlier age.

There's a really interesting study on the effects of the Americanization of the Japanese diet. (By Kagawa, published in Preventative Medicine, 1978.) Before 1946, Japanese did not consume milk. After that, milk and dairy became staple foods.

In 1950 the average person in Japan ate 5.5 pounds of milk and dairy products. The average girl was 4'6" tall and weighed 71 pounds. She began menstruation at 15.2 years old.

In 1975 the average Japanese consumed 117.4 pounds of milk and dairy products. The average girl had grown 4 1/2 inches and gained 19 pounds! And she started menstruating at 12.2 years old! Keep in mind, this is not due to calcium but growth hormones.

This study was done 34 years ago. Frightening to think what these numbers are now.

Some researchers are linking the rise in breast cancer to the copious amount of dairy products we now consume. It's a fascinating topic. And serious.

You know something's wrong with this milk picture when the Director of the Department of Pediatrics at John Hopkins University School of Medicine and Physician-in-Chief at the John Hopkins Children's Center, Frank Oski, MD, writes a book and calls it Don't Drink Your Milk.

I didn't make the choice to not drink milk for health reasons. Though that would definitely be a factor if I were making the decision today. And I didn't give up milk because of the industry's calamitous impact on the environment, which would absolutely convince me today.

I don't drink milk because it's meant to fatten up calves, not me. (We are the only species to drink another species milk.) I don't drink milk because I find the idea disturbingly repugnant and, did you know, it's full of white cow pus. Uh-huh. No one says that in their ads.

Mostly, I don't drink milk, like Gandhi, because of the cruelty dairy cows are subjected to--constantly being impregnated to produce milk, having their babies immediately torn from them, chained to a cage day in and day out, never seeing the light of day or breathing fresh air, hooked up to a milk machine that painfully tears their udders.

The way I see it, what isn't good for an animal isn't good for me. It's going to have an effect. Somehow, someway. Lovelessness is going to show up, asking us to pay up. It always does.

To learn more: NOT MILK

Here's a list of my favorite dairy replacement foods.