Dr. Gary Daniel’s Mental Tune-up

Maine’s New Drug Law: Veterinary Visits Get Complicated….Part 2

A Vegetarian Gammy Takes a Hike ~ Then a Permanent Detour

Why are the legislators in Maine including veterinarians in a bill that is geared towards stemming the opiate epidemic?

The nation has an opioid abuse problem and it’s naive to think some animals owners have never diverted their pet’s medication or sought drugs for the animal when it’s really for them. To vet shop however requires more than doctor shopping. When doctor shopping one much be a very good actor. If you have a history of chronic pain even better. Veterinarian shopping requires a prop; your animal. It means establishing a profile for your pet at numerous veterinary practices. It means paying multiple veterinary bills to get drugs which A. aren’t really the type an addict wants and B. could be obtained cheaper on the street or through friends.

It’s not uncommon for veterinarians to prescribe painkillers to animals that suffer from chronic pain or that have undergone surgery. In some…

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The most abused animal on the planet

borrowed from Jeremy Williams https://makewealthhistory.org/2016/02/17/the-worlds-most-abused-animal/

Care to guess what the world’s most abused animal is?

In terms of sheer numbers and the routine suffering inflicted on them, it’s got to be the chicken.

50 billion chickens are raised for meat every year, with around 5 billion more kept for egg production. The vast majority of them are raised and kept indoors in industrial farming systems.

The life of a broiler chicken is short. Though they can live for seven or eight years in healthy conditions, modern industry has perfected a six week lifecycle between hatching and slaughter. Chicks reach their adult weight many times faster than they do under natural conditions, thanks to optimised diets and selective breeding. Because the growth rates are so fast, heart and lung problems are common – broiler chickens essentially have baby hearts in adult bodies. Many are lame as well, unable to support their own weight.

chickenThese chickens never see the outdoors, and spend their short lives in large sheds where each chicken commands less than a square foot of floor space. When they reach the right size, they are hoovered into crates (yes, hoovered, and this is actually better than the old way of catching them by hand) and transported to the abattoir.

I’ll spare you the details of how chickens are killed. Suffice to say that guidelines that cover the humane slaughter of animals are harder to apply to birds, and in many parts of the world there are no rules that prevent them going through the process fully conscious.

Chickens raised for egg-laying don’t fare any better. The EU is phasing out battery hens, but in reality that means marginally fancier cages. Battery cages remain the standard for most chickens in the egg industry. Breeders raising laying hens want different characteristics from their birds than farmers raising them for meat, which means there is no use for the male chicks. They are gassed, and around the world hundreds of millions of male chicks are killed this way, in both free range and battery farms.

Considering it is standard practice around the world, apparently this is not of concern to the majority of us. It should be, of course. If it is within our power to prevent an animal from suffering, there are very few who would argue that we have no obligation to act. Nevertheless, it continues. Ignorance and the pull of cheap supermarket meat is too powerful.

Unfortunately, calling for vegetarianism is not going to be sufficient. As we discussed a couple of weeks ago, eating meat is aspirational for the world’s rising middle classes. It’s a non-negotiable part of many people’s diets, and nobody likes to be told what they can and can’t have on their dinner plates.

The reason I’m writing about it today is that in that post on the environmental impact of meat, I highlighted how beef stands out as so much worse than chicken or pork. If we want to take one step towards a healthier attitude to meat, cutting out beef would be a good one. However, as reader Jason Jorgensen pointed out, it would be a tragedy if we switched from beef to chicken and ended up eating more poultry. In trying to do the right thing by the climate, we would add to the already massive weight of animal misery.

Environmental issues often play against each other in this way, and there’s no easy solution. Where it is available, we should always buy higher welfare chicken. Eat less and better – maybe don’t bother with supermarket chicken mayo sandwiches or fast food nuggets. Keep up the pressure through organisations like Compassion in World Farming. If you have space, keep your own chickens and you’ll know exactly where your eggs come from. It would be great if cultured meat and eggs prove commercially viable. Choosing to go vegetarian or vegan is a great personal choice. We can all do something to improve the condition of the world’s most abused animal.

More information on this subject: http://freefromharm.org/animalagriculture/chicken-facts-industry-doesnt-want-know/

My Heart Is IrreparablyBroken

Abolish All Slavery 

If I had my way every single animal on earth, down to the the​ smallest insect to the elephant to any living thing on the planet would be against the law for humans to even touch. We would; have no say on them whatsoever and they would be 100% free, free from any human, free from captivity, from being eaten.  Any interaction initiated by humans would be a felony with automatic life in prison. Or worse. I believe this is the way it is supposed to be. #inmyworld

The Ugly Truth about Animal Shelters

Source: The Ugly Truth about Animal Shelters

I hope Heather of thesimplelens.com doesn’t mind me re-blogging her entire post here, If she does please let me know and I will remove the text and just keep the title:

Posted on May 26, 2016

Written by Heather of thesimplelens.com

The Ugly Truth about Animal Shelters

** Warning: this is a departure from my typical blog post. However, anyone who knows me well at all, knows there are two things I’m passionate about: God and animals. You might find this post unpleasant or perhaps, dare I say, offensive …. but there’s nothing pleasant about this subject.  You’ve been warned**

An article caught my eye the other day. It told the story of a vet, Jian Zhicheng, who worked at an animal shelter in Taiwan. She had euthanized 700 animals in two years – many of whom were healthy and perfectly adoptable. The fact was there was no space to keep them and no one to want them. She worked hard to promote adoption over buying. But animal rights activists threatened her and called her a butcher.

She took her own life. Distraught by the overwhelming burden of euthanizing animals who have nowhere else to go and being labeled nothing short of a killer by her fellow humans, she injected herself with euthanasia drugs from the shelter.

This story hit me hard. Anger swelled inside me: this woman’s life has needlessly ended. She took on the weight of other people’s criticism, the weight of solving a problem that came to feel insurmountable.  The problem that Jian Zhicheng faced is one that many, many shelters in our own country face daily. Too many animals, not enough homes.

Having worked in animal shelters, I have heard no end of criticism of the “kill shelter.” I have seen the distrustful glint in the eyes of the public and even volunteers. I guarantee that if you’re an average member of the public, you hear the words ‘kill shelter’ and a shiver runs down your spine. You automatically think of a horrible place filled with horrible people that murder animals rather than try to find them a home.

Let’s break it down, okay?

Kill shelters are in truth open admission shelters. An open admission shelter is required to take in whatever animal crosses its doorstep. Let’s say they have space for 100 dogs and 100 cats.  On Monday, they start out the week with 80 dogs and 80 cats. Someone comes in to surrender their 13-year-old golden retriever that has lived with them forever. They’re moving and can’t be burdened by an arthritic dog with a weak bladder any more. Right behind the golden comes a mama dog with a litter of 6 puppies. Twenty minutes later, two dogs that were adopted on Saturday have been brought back because they peed inside the house. Three cats come in – all from the same place – their owner died and the daughter wants nothing to do with litter boxes. Two 1-year-old labs are dropped off – baby on the way so no more time for high-energy dogs.  A litter of kittens come in with their mama, still nursing. Five minutes later, another litter of kittens come in but there’s no mama – and they’re only four weeks old. So, we’re up to 86 dog kennels needed (the pups stay with mama in one kennel) and 84 cat kennels (the motherless kittens have been frantically placed with the last available kitten foster). Whew. Still space, right?

Then the animal control officers come in. Officer One has brought in  7 cats – three from traps and four abandoned – and 4 dogs, all without collars, tags or microchips. Officer Two has brought in 3 more dogs who were reported for chasing chickens. Officer Three has been very busy – 2 abandoned kittens, 3 cats roaming at large and 9 stray dogs nosing through the trash at the landfill. That brings our grand total up to 102 dogs (plus the puppies with their mama) and 96 cats. Two dogs more than the shelter can hold. A rolling cage is wheeled into the laundry room to hold one of the dogs – a chihuahua shaking with fear. A staff member takes home the elderly golden retriever to administer meds and free up a kennel.

It’s only Monday. And the shelter has room for 4 more cats and no more dogs. And yet Tuesday will come with more dogs and more cats. Followed by Wednesday with more dogs and more cats and a couple of parakeets.

Potential adopters stroll up and down the aisles, peering into kennels. The mutt with a gentle soul and good manners is given barely a glance as one couple shakes their heads and leave, complaining that there were no yorkies. or pomeranians. or westies.

A young woman brings her son to see the animals, only to turn right around and leave when she finds out it’s a ‘kill shelter.’ She pauses just long enough to look over her shoulder in disgust at the front desk workers, her gaze saying,”How can you be so cruel?”

Another potential adopter wants a dog who is housebroken and already knows commands for sit, stay, lay down, shake, roll over, play dead. Yet another wants a puppy and the puppy must be fluffy. The little pittie-hound mix pups are totally ignored.

In the background, a shelter worker crosses her fingers that her favorite, a 10-year-old border collie with a heart murmur, weak hips and the sweetest disposition will finally find a home. She’s been here a long time – longer than she has any right to be.

Thursday comes. Adoptions were good this week but with so many owner surrenders and strays, the shelter is at capacity – technically over if you count the three rolling cages stuffed into the back hallway to hold the three little dogs who did not get along with their family’s new puppy.

It is euthanasia day. Who gets to live and who will die?

And who are the people behind that grim decision?

They are the ones who everyday open their hearts to the sure prospect of hope mingled with a bitter disappointment. They are the ones who look past the mange, the stinky ears, the overgrown nails, the tangled hair to see animals who were created with intention by God. They see the souls – the sometimes gentle, sometimes fearful question in the eyes of those animals: is it going to be better now?

As they bathe 6-week-old puppies, frail from blood loss because they have been covered in so many fleas, these shelter workers vow silently to show these creatures that yes, it is going to be better now. When officers bring in an emaciated dog, abandoned inside a kennel for weeks – they passionately swear that yes, it is going to be better now. When a recently adopted dog is picked up as a stray and the ‘owner’ says to just keep him, the worker who did the adoption kneels down in front of those questioning eyes and promises, it will be better.

And when it isn’t – when no one chooses them, when the shelter runs out of space – their hearts break completely. And these workers go home and smile for their families and try to bury the guilt they feel that they were not able to help that one. and that one. and that one.

The ugly truth of the animal shelter isn’t the workers pulling up the syringe of pentobarbital. It isn’t the shelter director who is agonizing in his office about the high intake and low adoption rate as he brainstorms new ways to attract potential adopters.

It’s you.

The person who thinks it’s fine for their intact male dog to roam the neighborhood, spawning litter after litter of unwanted puppies. Puppies that end up at the shelter for someone else to deal with.

The person who thinks they’ll make big bucks by backyard breeding … until the inbreeding starts creating puppies with deformities … puppies no one wants. Puppies that end up at the shelter for someone else to deal with.

The person who spends $500 on the puppy for sale in the back of the truck at Wal-mart, encouraging that backyard breeder to keep right on breeding, never knowing the mama lives a mostly neglected life in a filthy cage outside until she becomes so covered in mammary tumors that she ends up at the shelter for someone else to deal with.

The person who takes that puppy home and loses interest once the puppy reaches 7 months old and starts digging or chewing or barking – time to drop her off at the shelter for someone else to deal with.

The person who decides they’d like to travel more and it’s time to dump their senior dog, the one with lumps and sores, at the shelter for someone else to deal with.

The hunter who abandons the gun-shy dog on a back road, driving away in a cloud of dust, leaving him for someone else to deal with.

The nice middle-class family who refuses to get their dog spayed and complains when a wandering intact male leaves her with a litter of unwanted puppies. Puppies that end up at the shelter for someone else to deal with.

The person who hides behind a computer screen and leaves nasty messages, calling the shelter employees cruel, cold, unfeeling … all while petting the dog they purchased from a pet shop – shelter mutts are for someone else to deal with.

The person who complains that too much of their tax money has gone to the shelter – how could they possibly want to increase their budget for things like spay & neuter clinics or humane education or microchipping? That should be left for someone else to deal with.

The person who complains about the massive and daunting problem of animal welfare in this country … without offering any solution or any help. That’s for someone else to deal with.

For someone else to deal with.

The ugly truth is that so many people want to pass off their responsibility to someone else, anyone else. That’s why animal shelters exist. The emotional burden of what happens to those unwanted animals is passed off too – to sit squarely on the shoulders of the shelter workers and the volunteers and the rescues trying their damnedest to make a difference, to save lives.

The ugly truth is there is no easy answer. The real answer is simple but it is so hard because it requires persistence and endurance – there is no instant gratification. The only answer is spay and neuter. Pet overpopulation is an overwhelming problem and the only way to solve it is by reducing the population. Right now, society’s answer has been to reduce the population on the back end – i.e. killing. According to the Humane Society of the United States, 2.4 million adoptable cats and dogs are euthanized every year – that’s an animal every 13 seconds. The ASPCA reports a higher estimate of 2.7 million euthanized animals per year.

That’s madness, isn’t it?

Let’s change that.

Spay and neuter your pets – there’s no excuse for Rex to be accidentally spreading unknown litters around the neighborhood.

Adopt, don’t shop – shelter pets have every bit as much love to give as one from a breeder.

If you must buy, do your due diligence and fully inspect the premises of the breeder. See where mama lives full-time, not just when buyers come by. Ask about mama’s vet care. Ask for references.

Accept responsibility for the animal that you brought into your family. Dogs and cats don’t speak our language – they have to learn what we ask of them and that requires patience and consistency from you. They want to love you and that requires attention from you. They will get sick, they will get hurt, they may be inconvenient to care for – but that’s what you signed up for when you picked out the puppy with the waggly tail and the kitten with the fluffball fur.

If you do none of these things, then do this at least – look closely at those shelter workers and think – THINK- about the pain they willingly take on every day because someone else chose not to hold up their end of the bargain. And swallow the criticism that can float so easily to the surface. They are in the trenches – and what’s more, they repeatedly choose to be there because if not them, then who?
Written by Heather of thesimplelens.com
And that is the thought of every committed person involved in animal sheltering – if not me, then who?

 UPDATE: In follow-up to the overwhelming response this post generated, be sure to read the next post –  Animal Welfare: Solve for X

Acetaminophen found to negatively affect your mood

Common painkiller Acetaminophen found to damage mental and emotional wellness
source Lori Alton/Natural News
Are aches and pains or a headache keeping you from enjoying life? It seems like a harmless solution to a common problem, but grabbing a painkiller like Tylenol to relieve minor pain or fever could do more harm than good.
Researchers have found that over 600 medications pushed by big pharma containing acetaminophen not only cover up symptoms but also trigger negative emotions and prevent people from feeling positive emotions like, joy. So, most people are left unaware that taking these seemingly ‘harmless’ drugs could be affecting their mental and emotional wellness.
Painkiller has unwanted emotional side effects
In a study published last year in the journal Psychological Science, acetaminophen was found to be not only a pain reliever but an “emotion reliever” as well. In the trial, half the participants took a dose of 1000 mg of acetaminophen, which is a recommended amount, while the remaining participants were given an inactive placebo.
After allowing about an hour for the medication to take effect, both groups were given identical tests. They viewed a number of photos specially designed to cause various positive and negative emotions. However, the scientists found that participants receiving acetaminophen didn’t react to the same highs or lows as the people who did not. The drug-dampened both positive and negative emotions.
Drug-induced ‘zombie state’ leads to relationship problems
In another experiment using the painkiller acetaminophen published in 2016 in Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 80 college students took part to determine the effects of the drug on emotional health. Again, half received a dose of 1,000 mg of acetaminophen and the other half received a placebo.
Participants were then read a series of stories about people going through pain and asked to rate the pain of those in the stories. The study’s results found that those given acetaminophen consistently gave lower pain ratings for people in the stories compared with those receiving placebos. Hence the suggestion that these students are turning into ‘zombies’ – after taking a common painkiller.
Do painkillers destroy our ability to ‘feel for others?’
Participants also had the opportunity to empathize with someone going through a socially painful experience. Those given acetaminophen continued to show less empathy and were less likely to be concerned about the rejected person’s feelings. The study’s authors stated they may perform a similar study using ibuprofen instead.
The results suggest that those taking acetaminophen may unknowingly be less responsive to the pain of others they interact with in personal and workplace relationships. The result could be a breakdown of healthy relationships simply because of taking acetaminophen for a headache, minor pain or fever.
Avoid toxic painkillers by choosing natural remedies
Commonly used painkillers have been linked to a dangerous list of health problems in addition to these latest studies on the effects on emotional and mental health. Liver damage, impaired brain function, increased risk of heart attack, addiction and increased pain are just a few of the side effects you could suffer from by taking over-the-counter and prescription pain medications.
But you do have some natural alternatives to these dangerous medications, including: vitamin C, willow bark, turmeric, and cloves, as well as holistic treatments like acupuncture, acupressure, reflexology and massage.

22 Mindfulness Exercises

Fleming & Kocovski’s treatment plan

One such group mindfulness-based treatment program by Fleming & Kocovski (2007) aimed to reduce social anxiety. It is a good example of how mindfulness exercises can be incorporated into a group setting for its various benefits.

In this example, the exercises used have proven effective for treating social anxiety disorder in particular; however, they can be applied to many other group settings with positive results.

The treatment plan involves groups of about 8 members meeting for 2 hours, every week for 12 weeks.  The first portion of each session is devoted to a short mindfulness exercise and discussion.

The treatment plan’s mindfulness exercises went as follows:

  • Session 1: Raisin Exercise
  • Session 2: Body Scan
  • Session 3: Mindful Seeing
  • Session 4: Mindfulness of the breath, sounds, and thoughts
  • Session 5: Acceptance of thoughts and feelings exercise
  • Session 6: Acceptance of Social Anxiety
  • Session 7: Mountain Meditation
  • Session 8: Acceptance of Social Anxiety
  • Session 9: Breath Focus without Guidance
  • Session 10: Lake Meditation
  • Session 11: Non guided Breath Focus

There are many different mindfulness exercises mentioned here which were specifically put together for the aim of reducing social anxiety disorder; however, the first three exercises are commonly used in group sessions to encourage mindfulness. A description of each of these three group exercises can be found below:

1. The Raisin Exercise

This is a great introductory exercise for beginners to start practicing mindfulness, since it can be attempted by anyone with any kind of food (although one with an interesting or unusual texture, smell, or taste is best).

In this exercise, the facilitator provides participants with a few raisins and asks that they pretend they have never seen a raisin before. The facilitator then asks that the group pay careful attention to:

  • The way the raisin looks
  • How it feels
  • How their skin responds to its manipulation
  • Its smell
  • Its taste

Focusing on the single object of the raisin is meant to bring the participant’s mind to the present, to what is right in front of them.

“By focusing on the raisin in their hand and making a point to notice everything about it, they are unlikely to be expending energy, time and attention on worrying or ruminating about other parts of their lives”

It is nearly impossible to avoid practicing mindfulness when you follow these instructions and take notice of what is in front of you in the present moment.

2. The Body Scan

Another popular exercise for practitioners of mindfulness is called the Body Scan. It requires very little in the way of props or tools, and it is also easily accessible for most beginners.

Would you like to follow a Body Scan right now? Try this 30 minute guided narrative by expert and founder of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction Jon Kabat Zinn:

  • Step 1: the Body Scan begins with the participants lying on their backs with their palms facing up and their feet falling slightly apart.This exercise can also be done sitting on a comfortable chair with feet resting on the floor.
  • Step 2: the facilitator then asks the participants to lie very still for the duration of the exercise, and move with awareness if it becomes necessary to adjust their position.
  • Step 3: next, the facilitator begins guiding the Body Scan. Participants begin by bringing awareness to the breath, noticing the rhythm, the experience of breathing in and expelling out. The facilitator explains that nobody should try to change the way they are breathing but rather just hold gentle awareness on the breath.
  • Step 4: next, the facilitator guides attention to the body: how it feels, the texture of clothing against the skin, the contours of the surface on which the body is resting, the temperature of the body and the environment.
  • Step 5: the facilitator guides awareness to the parts of the body that are tingling, sore, or feeling particularly heavy or light, s/he asks the participants to note any areas of their body where they don’t feel any sensations at all or are hypersensitive.

A typical Body Scan runs through each part of the body, paying special attention to the way each area feels, the scan usually moves as follows:

1. From toes of both feet to
2. The rest of the feet (top, bottom, ankle) then to the
3. Lower legs,
4. Knees,
5. Thighs and
6. Pelvic region- buttocks, tailbone, pelvic bone, genitals. From there moving to
7. The Abdomen, then the
8. Chest,
9. Lower back,
10. Upper back- back ribs & shoulder blades,
11. Hands (fingers, palms, backs, wrists),
12. Arms (lower, elbows, upper),
13. Neck,
14. Face and head (jaw, mouth, nose, cheeks, ears, eyes, forehead, scalp, back&top of head),
15. and finally ending with the blow hole (Fleming & Kocovski, 2007)

After the Body Scan is complete and the participants feel ready to come back to the room they can slowly open their eyes and move naturally to a comfortable sitting position.

Now that you have a firmer understanding of the Body Scan, check out this free PDF mindful body scan script which will help you facilitate this exercise for others within a group setting.

Mindfulness Techniques

3. Mindful Seeing

For some, the absence of visual stimuli can feel stifling. After all, a healthy imagination does not come naturally to everyone. The activity of Mindful Seeing may be helpful to anyone who identifies with this feeling.

This is a simple exercise, requiring only a window with some kind of a view. The facilitator guides the group following these steps:

  • Step 1: find a space at a window where there are sights to be seen outside.
  • Step 2: look at everything there is to see.  Avoid labeling and categorizing what you see outside the window; instead of thinking “bird” or “stop sign”, try to notice the colors, the patterns, or the textures.
  • Step 3: pay attention to the movement of the grass or leaves in the breeze, notice the many different shapes present in this small segment of the world you can see.  Try to
    see the world outside the window from the perspective of someone unfamiliar with these sights.
  • Step 4: be observant, but not critical.  Be aware, but not fixated.
  • Step 5: if you become distracted, gently pull your mind away from those thoughts and notice a color or shape again to put you back in the right frame of mind.

“This exercise only lasts a few minutes, but can open up a world of discovery in an otherwise familiar place”

This extensive group treatment plan of  Fleming and Kocovski’s 2007 work offers a glimpse of how to use mindfulness in any kind of group session and provides detailed worksheets, exercises, and handouts which can provide inspiration and guidance for your group facilitation.

4. Mindful Listening

This last activity is extracted from the Positive Psychology Toolkit and introduces mindful listening as a group exercise.

Mindful listening is an important skill and can be a great group mindfulness exercise. In general, people thrive when they feel fully “heard” and “seen.” In other words, mindful listening involves a form of self-regulation in which the focus on the self is set aside. Mindful listening can create an inner stillness in both parties as the speaker may feel free of the listener’s preconceptions and prejudices, and the listener is free of inner chatter whilst learning valuable positive communication skills.

The Mindful Listening exercise involves these steps:

  • Step 1: invite each participant to think of one thing they are stressed about and one thing they look forward to.
  • Step 2: once everyone is finished each participant takes their turn in sharing their story with the group,
  • Step 3: encourage each participant to direct attention to how it feels to speak, how it feels to talk about something stressful as well as how it feel to share something positive.
  • Step 4: participants are instructed to observe their own thoughts, feelings and body sensations both when talking and listening.
  • Step 5: after each participant has shared, you can break into small groups and answer the questions stated bellow. Next, you regroup into the whole group and have a discussion and debrief with these questions.

Those questions are:

1: How did you feel when speaking during the exercise?
2: How did you feel when listening during the exercise?
3: Did you notice any mind-wandering?
4: If so, what was the distraction?
5: What helped you to bring your attention back to the present?
6: Did your mind judge while listening to others?
7: If so, how did “judging” feel in the body?
8: Were there times where you felt empathy?
9: If so, how did this feel in the body?
10: How did your body feel right before speaking?
11: How did your body feel right after speaking?
12: What are you feeling right now?
13: What would happen if you practiced mindful listening with each person that you spoke with?
14: Do you think mindful listening would change the way you interact and relate with others?
15: How would it feel if you set the intention to pay attention with curiosity, kindness, and
acceptance to everything you said and everything you listened to?

In addition to the group activities mentioned, you may also be interested in trying gentle yoga or qigong, both of which involve deliberate posture, purposeful breath, and an emphasis on awareness.  Both of these activities have provided evidence for the benefits of mindfulness (Newsome, Waldo, & Gruszka, 2012).

mindful listening mindfulness

6 Fun Mindfulness Interventions, Techniques, and Worksheets for Adults

There are several ways to engage in mindfulness on an individual level, including worksheets, techniques, and different exercises.

If the idea of participating in group mindfulness exercises is anxiety-provoking or stressful for yourself or your clients then diving into mindfulness practice alone can be the best way to proceed. Here are 6 exercises which can help to build mindfulness in different ways:

1. The Self-Compassion Pause

This free PDF worksheet on The Self-Compassion Pause guides the reader through an exercise on practicing mindfulness and self-compassion.

It is an ideal worksheet for many who struggle to show themselves compassion, even though they may be quick to extend compassion to others. It is also a great way to practice mindfulness by bringing awareness to emotions and staying in the moment with them.

  • The worksheet begins with noting the date and whether the focus on awareness is on heart, body, or thoughts on the current day.
  • Next, the worksheet provides a short description on the importance of self-compassion for maintaining quality of life.
  • The next section provides the method for the exercise.  You start with noticing feelings by taking a moment to pause thoughts and actions, with a focused awareness that being mindful can help.
  • Next, the worksheet instructs you to move a hand over the heart, give yourself a hug, or make physical contact with yourself in some other way, and take a few deep breaths.
  • After this is the important step of acknowledging suffering.  This step is both a place to practice mindfulness and encourages mindfulness as result.  The aim is not to become overwhelmed by the pain or emotion but rather acknowledge it as real and hurtful, while giving yourself permission to feel it.

While the last step may be the most difficult, it is also a very important one. It involves vocalizing three statements:

  1. “This is suffering” (or something similar)
  2. “Suffering is part of being human” (acknowledge that all humans suffer and struggle)
  3. A phrase that you feel offers compassion, such as “May I love and accept myself just as I am”

2. Self-Inquiry Meditation

The Self-Inquiry Meditation is focused on self-inquiry, a technique used in meditation to gain enlightenment. (download the PDF here)

It begins the same way the self-compassion worksheet does, by jotting down the date and what area is the focus of awareness for the day.

Next, the worksheet offers a short description of self-inquiry and why it is worthwhile to practice it. Self-inquiry can bring about a sense of peace and openness to experience, among other desirable outcomes.

To begin the exercise, follow these steps:

  1. Take a comfortable seated position
  2. Let yourself settle into your body and your mind
  3. Try to let go of thoughts and clear the mind of its usual considerations
  4. Focus your attention on the feeling of being you. Who are you? How does it feel to be you? What is it that makes up your inner self?

If you find yourself distracted by an errant thought, bring your awareness back to yourself by asking “To whom is this thought occurring?”

This exercise can be continued for as long as desired. It is a difficult exercise as it requires the individual to focus on the self, which not many find enjoyable. If you are having trouble staying in your own head, try practicing the self-compassion exercise first to make the experience more comfortable.

The goal of self-inquiry is to be aware of yourself and to bring awareness to the source of all that you are. It can be so easy to get lost in everyday tasks and distractions.

“Self-inquiry can help bring awareness to the one who is dealing with all these thoughts and feelings – you!”

 3. Five Senses Exercise

This exercise is called “five senses”, and provides guidelines on practicing mindfulness quickly in nearly any situation.  All that is needed is to notice something you are experiencing with each of the five senses.

Follow this order to practice the five senses exercise:

  • Notice five things that you can see.

Look around you and bring your attention to five things that you can see. Pick something that you don’t normally notice, like a shadow or a small crack in the concrete.

  • Notice four things that you can feel.

Bring awareness to four things that you are currently feeling, like the texture of your pants, the feeling of the breeze on your skin, or the smooth surface of a table you are resting your hands on.

  • Notice three things you can hear.

Take a moment to listen, and note three things that you hear in the background. This can be the chirp of a bird, the hum of the refrigerator, or the faint sounds of traffic from a nearby road.

  • Notice two things you can smell.

Bring your awareness to smells that you usually filter out, whether they’re pleasant or unpleasant. Perhaps the breeze is carrying a whiff of pine trees if you’re outside, or the smell of a fast food restaurant across the street.

  • Notice one thing you can taste.

Focus on one thing that you can taste right now, in this moment. You can take a sip of a drink, chew a piece of gum, eat something, or just notice the current taste in your mouth or open your mouth to search the air for a taste.

This is a quick and relatively easy exercise to bring you to a mindful state quickly. If you only have a minute or two or, for whatever reason, you don’t have the time or tools to try a body scan or fill out a worksheet, the five senses exercise can help you or your clients bring awareness to the current moment in a short amount of time.

mindfulness exercises

4. The Mini-Mindfulness Exercise

Another great exercise to try if you are strapped for time is the mini-mindfulness exercise. In this lesson, there are only three steps:

  • Step 1: step out of  “automatic pilot” to bring awareness to what you doing, thinking, and sensing in this moment.

Try to pause and take a comfortable but dignified posture. Notice the thoughts that come up and acknowledge your feelings, but let them pass. Attune yourself to who you are and your current state.

  • Step 2: bring awareness to the breathing for six breaths or a minute.

The goal is to focus attention on one thing: your breath. Be aware of the movement of your body with each breath, of how your chest rises and falls, how your belly pushes in and out, and how your lungs expand and contract. Find the pattern of your breath and anchor yourself to the present with this awareness.

  • Step 3: expand awareness outward, first to the body then to the environment.

Allow the awareness to expand out to your body. Notice the sensations you are experiencing, like tightness, aches, or perhaps a lightness in your face or shoulders. Keep in mind your body as a whole, as a complete vessel for your inner self.

If you wish, you can then expand your awareness even further to the environment around you. Bring your attention to what is in front of you.  Notice the colors, shapes, patterns, and textures of the objects you can see. Be present in this moment, in your awareness of your surroundings.

“When you are ready to finish the exercise, allow your eyes to open slowly and try to carry that mindfulness with you as you go about your day”

These four exercises mentioned above are taken from www.mindfulnessexercises.com.

5. Mindful Walking Down The Street Technique

One core process, which can be influenced by mindfulness practice, is our ability to observe out thoughts emotions and sensations without reacting to fix them, hide them or solve them. This awareness creates room for choice between impulse and action which can help develop coping skills and positive behavioral change.

  • In the first step of this intervention; the facilitator helps the client visualize a scenario in which they are walking down a familiar street when they look up and see someone they know on the other side of the street. They wave however the other person doesn’t respond and continues to walk right past.
  • In the second step of the mindful walking exercise the facilitator prompts reflection from the client by asking a series of questions:

1. As you were imagining, did you notice any of your thoughts?
2. As you were imagining, did you notice any of your emotions?

“It can be sometimes be challenging to differentiate between thoughts and emotions as they can play off each other quite rapidly”

  • In the third and final step of the exercise, the facilitator asks the client to reflect on the series of emotions and thoughts that came up and how this affects their behavior, whether the exercise was helpful and for any final comments.

6. The Three Minute Breathing Space

Unlike meditations or a body scan, this exercise is quick to perform and easy to get started with a mindfulness practice in your busy life or that of your clients. With meditations and the body scan thoughts often pop up and keeping a quiet and clear head can be a challenge.

This last exercise of Three Minute Breathing Space can be the perfect technique for those with busy lives and minds. The exercise is broken into three sections, one per minute, and works as follows:

  1. The first minute is spent on answering the question, “how am I doing right now?”, while focusing on the feelings, thoughts and sensations that arise and trying to give these words and phrases.
  2. The second minute is spent on keeping awareness on the breath.
  3. The last minute is used for an expansion of attention from solely focusing on the breath, feeling the in’s and out’s and how they affect the rest of the body.

This exercise can be rather challenging for keeping a quiet mind and often thoughts can pop up. The idea is not to block them, but rather just let them come into your mind and then disappear back out again. Try to just observe them.

Positive Psychology Toolkit
Want to have instant access to more than 120 Positive Psychology tools? We’ve created the Positive Psychology Toolkit so that you can find all the different exercises, scales, assessments, questionnaires and interventions in an easy to use online environment (PDF format). Order it here and say goodbye to the days of ploughing through books and articles for exercises or interventions.

All the exercises mentioned above can be used for the benefit of yourself, individual clients and even in group settings. They are beneficial to all client groups; however, some will be better suited than others so a method of open minded trial and error can often be necessary.

The most important part of mindfulness is to recognize that it is training of the mind, and like any exercise will take some time to see the benefits and for the mind to get used to a new way of thinking. The trick it to persevere, approach the process with self-compassion and allow for reflection, change and flexibility between different techniques and interventions.

breathing mindfulness

Introducing Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (or DBT) is a type of cognitive behavioral therapy that is mainly used to treat individuals with borderline personality disorder.

  • The first priority for DBT treatment is to target the life-threatening behaviors that often manifest in people with severe mental health problems.
  • Second, therapists aim to eliminate the behaviors that interfere with therapy.  These behaviors are anything which become obstacles between the client and successful treatment, such as refusal to strive for the goals of DBT, missing sessions, etc.
  • Next, DBT therapists aim to correct the behaviors that interfere with the client’s quality of life, including non-productive relationship behaviors, communication problems, and bad financial decision-making.

The behavioral skills taught in group and individual therapy fall into one of four categories:

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Distress tolerance
  3. Interpersonal effectiveness
  4. Emotion regulation (Linehan, 1993)

Mindfulness is a core skill taught in DBT, as it helps clients raise awareness of their own thoughts and feelings (Jennings & Apsche, 2014).

“Practicing mindfulness helps DBT clients learn to slow the pace of their thoughts, recognize thoughts for what they are, and sharpen their focus”

The Effectiveness of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy-Mindfulness

In one study, Dialectical Behavioral Therapy-Mindfulness (DBTM) training was added to general psychiatric treatment to test its effectiveness. A module on mindfulness was developed to help clients achieve the “wise mind” and focused on two sets of skills, called the “what” skills and the “how” skills (Soler et al., 2012).

What are the “What” skills?

This first set of skills is meant to help the client learn how to:

  1. simply observe their experience,
  2. describe their experience using verbal labels, and
  3. be fully present in the moment and in their actions without feeling self-conscious.

These skills allow the client to be aware of what is happening to them and of their part in their own experience.  Becoming aware of their own thoughts and grounded in the present forms the foundation for the next set of “how” skills.

How do the “How” Skills Work?

The “how” skills set refers to the goal of teaching clients how to observe, describe and participate in their own experience. This set of skills is intended to help clients:

  1. learn to have experiences in a non-evaluative, or non-judgmental, manner,
  2. focus on one thing at a time and learn to bring their attention back to the target when they go off course
  3. be effective, or keep their focus on their goals regardless of their current mood (Soler et al., 2012).

The clients were also taken through a series of other mindfulness interventions including mindful breathing, the body scan and other simple awareness practices.

The outcome of this study showed that individuals who received DBTM training in addition to the usual treatment garnered enhanced benefits compared to the group who received only the usual psychiatric treatment.  Additionally, it was found that the more minutes an individual spent practicing mindfulness, the greater the improvements in psychiatric symptoms (Soler et al., 2012).

DBT clearly has something to teach us all in its application of a wide range of mindfulness techniques and exercises. The best news being that these exercises can be applied to other individual clients and groups with their own unique benefits. Let’s take a look at a few easily applicable examples.

5 Simple Mindfulness Exercises from Dialectical Behavioural Therapy

In addition to the DBT mindfulness techniques used in clinical research, there are many informal mindfulness techniques and exercises shared online for anyone to try.

One such source comes is DrivingPeace.com, which offers five DBT-based mindfulness practices that can help with anxiety, especially anxiety resulting from borderline personality disorder, however, could be beneficial to a number of different clients. These five exercises are quick and easy and can be put to practice every day:

1. Observe a leaf for five minutes

This exercise calls for nothing but a leaf and your attention. Pick up a leaf, hold it in your hand, and give it your full attention for five minutes.  Notice the colors, the shape, the texture, and the patterns. This will bring you into the present and align your thoughts with your current experience.

observing leaf mindfulness

2. Mindful eating for four minutes

As with the raisin exercise described above, this exercise calls for mindful eating.

Pay attention to what you are holding (preferably not something messy!), notice the feeling of it in your hands.  Once you have noticed the texture, the weight, the color, etc., move on to bringing your awareness to the smell.

Finally, move on to eating, but do so slowly and with concentrated attention. Notice the taste and its texture against your tongue.  This exercise may help you discover new experiences with familiar foods.

3. Observe your thoughts for fifteen minutes

This exercise is a staple of mindfulness, designed to simply enhance your awareness of your own thoughts.

To begin, sit or lie down in a comfortable position and try to let all tension in your body dissipate. Focus on your breathing first, then move your awareness to what it feels like to be in your body, and finally move on to your thoughts.

Be aware of what comes into your head, but resist the urge to label or judge these thoughts. Think of them as a passing cloud in the sky of your mind.

If your mind wanders to chase a thought, acknowledge whatever it was that took your attention and gently guide your attention back to your thoughts.

4. Mindfulness bell exercise for five minutes

In this exercise, you begin by closing your eyes and listening for the cue. When you hear it, your aim is to focus your attention on the sound and continue your concentration until it fades completely. This exercise helps you to keep yourself firmly grounded in the present. You can use the audio below:

5. Stare at the center

The goal is simple: to focus your attention on the center of the shifting pattern of color. You can let your mind wander freely, noticing whatever thoughts come into your head but staying in the present.

This experience is similar to the well-known phenomenon of the quiet fixation that results from staring at a candle flame or a campfire.

The same focus and deep thought can be brought on by this exercise, but be careful not to lose yourself in thought, and instead stay present in the moment and let your thoughts pass by. This exercise requires a video to practice, you can use the one below:


For other exercises in treating anxiety through the practice of DBT and mindfulness, check out the excellent resource that is this free PDF Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook [DBT Skills Workbook PDF] (retrieved from ny-dbt-rmphd.weebly.com).


Mindfulness Techniques for Depression, Anger, Addiction, and Anxiety

While mindfulness has been a crux of therapy for patients with borderline personality disorder, it clearly has applications for people with a diagnosis of mental illness.

In fact, mindfulness has been successfully applied to a wide range of people on the mental health spectrum, from the mentally healthy and happy to those struggling the most with their mental well-being.

Whether you treat or suffer from depression, anger, addiction, or anxiety as a formal diagnosis or occasional obstacles, mindfulness techniques have been shown to be particularly beneficial for regulating emotions and can be a very helpful resource for management and coping (Arch & Craske, 2006; Dubert, Schumacher, Locker, Gutierrez, & Barnes, 2016).

Mindfulness Techniques for Depression

Mindfulness is increasingly used in the treatment of depression as it helps to reduce depressive symptoms and thus lowers the risk of relapse. One study included interviews with 11 individuals suffering from depression who have used mindfulness-based treatment. The study concluded that there are three keys for making mindfulness effective in the treatment of depression (Nauman, 2014 June):

  1. Mindfulness helps patients learn to be present in the moment, which helps them take a moment to pause, notice their own thoughts and feelings, and choose a response that is not based in their present emotions.
  2. Mindfulness teaches patients that it is okay to say “no” to others, which helps them balance their own lives and enhance self-confidence.
  3. Mindfulness allows patients to be present with others, meaning that they are more aware of the state of their relationships with others, are able to acknowledge their own communication problems and thus more effectively relate with others.

We’ve described practices focused on breathing and muscle relaxation already (such as the Three Minute Breathing Space or the Body Scan), however the “sorting into boxes” exercise is also helpful for dealing with depression. You can use this audio clip here for guidance.

The exercise of “sorting boxes” follows these steps:

  1. Focus on your breathing, without trying to change it.
  2. Notice any thoughts, sensations, or emotions that come into your awareness.
  3. Imagine that there are three boxes in your mind, labelled “thoughts”, “sensations”, and “emotions.”
  4. Continue to focus on your breathing, and continue to observe anything that comes into your awareness.
  5. Identify these things as thoughts, sensations, or emotions and sort them into the corresponding box in your mind.
  6. Continue clearing your mind by putting these thoughts, sensations, and emotions into their respective boxes until you hear the sound of a bell.

Following this guided mindfulness exercise will help you to clear your mind of worry about the past or the future, and allow you to focus on this present moment in a time.

If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness techniques for treating depression, you can look into Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy or follow their short guided meditation.

Alternatively watch this inspiring TEDtalk by Zindel Segal who explains the naused mindful approach needed to not only address depression but also manage recovery and reduce the risk of relapse. Check it out:

Mindfulness Techniques for Anger

Mindfulness techniques can be put to good use in discharging acute or chronic anger. As one of our strongest emotions, anger can be hard to view objectively and defuse before getting out of hand, however, mindfulness can help by creating a space between stimulus and an immediate, impulsive response.

This technique can help you deal with the experience of anger (Cullen, Pons, & Mindful Staff, 2016):

  • First, sit in a comfortable position with your eyes closed and notice the places where your body is touching the floor, cushion, or chair.
  • Draw in a few deep breaths, completely filling up your lungs and quickly exhaling.
  • Think back to a time that you recently experienced anger, preferably a mild or quickly addressed episode.  Allow yourself to experience the anger you felt in that moment.
  • Disregard any other feelings that come up with this memory, like guilt or sadness.
  • Turn your attention to how you are experiencing anger in your body. Notice whether any parts of your body are manifesting your anger, with sensations like warmth or cold, the intensity of these reactions, and whether they change as you observe them or move through your body.
  • Bring compassion to the anger. This can be a difficult step, but remind yourself that anger is a natural human emotion that affects us all at one point or another. Try to hold your anger “like a mother cradling a newborn,” with love and understanding.
  • Say goodbye to your anger. Gradually bring your attention back to your breath and rest here for a while, until your emotions have subsided or settled down.
  • Reflect on the experience. Notice the sensations that this exercise brought up in your body, notice if they changed through the process. Take note of whether you applied compassion to your anger, and if so, how you did it.  Think about what happened to the anger when you showed it compassion.

This exercise can be repeated as many times as necessary. It is recommended to work your way up from milder experiences of anger to the most intense and memorable episodes.

Practicing this technique can help you to defuse chronic anger in a rather counterintuitive manner: by accepting and mindfully feeling your anger, you can take control of the experience and compassionately address it.

For other resources and techniques on dealing with anger through mindfulness, you can try the Buddhist-based method or the mindfulness for dummies version. Alternatively, you can follow this 20 minute guided anger management mindfulness meditation:


Mindfulness Techniques for Anxiety

We have already covered some mindfulness techniques for dealing with social anxiety disorder as well as the anxiety that often accompanies borderline personality disorder, but the techniques can also aid the undiagnosed individual who suffers from occasional (or not-so-occasional) anxiety.

A meta-analysis was conducted in 2010 that provided evidence for the effectiveness of mindfulness exercises on anxiety and depression.  The researchers found that mindfulness-based therapy was moderately effective for treating anxiety and improving mood and that the effects lasted beyond the initial improvements (Hofmann, Sawyer, Witt, & Oh, 2010).

To begin applying mindfulness to your anxiety, or that of your clients,  Mindful.org has provided a short description of 10 attitudes that will help build the foundation for successfully addressing anxiety:

  • Volition or intention
    This is the building block of all other attitudes. First, you must bring your focus to the intention of working with your anxiety.
  • Beginner’s mind
    This refers to a mindset that is ready to see from a new perspective and consider new ideas in regards to dealing with anxiety.
  • Patience
    This is a very important attitude to cultivate, since it can broaden your perspective and help you persevere when you run into obstacles on your journey.
  • Acknowledgement
    Having the mindset of acknowledgment means that you take each experience for what it is; you accept what is happening and be secure in the knowledge that it, like the weather it will pass.
  • Nonjudgment
    This attitude involves experiencing your present moment without evaluating and judging it.  It means you let go of value judgments about yourself and how you are feeling, and allows you to begin your work from a more balanced starting block.
  • Non-striving
    This attitude refers to the willingness to accept a situation or experience as it is, without trying to change it.  To combat your anxiety, you must first be present with it and accept your current state.
  • Self-reliance
    The mindset of self-reliance is characterized by trusting yourself and your ability to handle your feelings.  Cultivating your self-reliance will allow you to more easily acknowledge, experience, and let go of your anxiety.
  • Letting be or allowing
    Similar to the attitude of non-striving, letting be or allowing refers to the mindset of allowing yourself to feel anxiety.  Often it is more effective to work with your anxiety than expend energy trying to fight against it.
  • Self-compassion
    As mentioned earlier, showing yourself compassion is an important part of mindfulness.  Being kind to yourself, as you would be kind to a dear friend or family member, can help you to decrease your anxiety by being a support for yourself.
  • Balance and equanimity
    These are attitudes that allow wisdom to develop through a broadening of perspective and an understanding that your whole experience is so much more than your current feelings, whether positive or negative.

To practice each of these mindsets, first read the full description of each mindset then try to embody each mindset or attitude. Take note of how you feel. Afterward, reflect on your experience and describe it, with a special focus on your feelings during the process.

For a rather more simple method of applying mindfulness to anxiety, you can try this quick exercise:

  • focus on the sensations that arise in your body when you are anxious.
  • be present and in the moment,
  • allow yourself to think the anxious and distressing thoughts, don’t fight them.

By recognizing these thoughts for what they are, you may come to realize that they are not true, and consequently be able to let them go (Hofmann, 2013). If you are interested in trying other mindfulness exercises to address anxiety, you can use this free short document or this extensive workbook (PDF).

If you would like more information on anxiety, and how to approach dealing with it through mindfulness you can also take a listen to Dr. Kim Taylor Show as she clarifies the signs, symptoms of anxiety and suggests viable techniques, resources which can aid the treatment and management of anxiety. Take a listen:

Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training (MB-EAT)

Another mindfulness based therapy is the Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Therapy (MB-EAT). It was invented by the psychologist Jean Kristeller in the early 1980s. It should be used in case of emotional eating disorders.

It combines mindfulness training with cognitive behaviour therapies to make people more aware of their eating behaviour. The goal is to give people a more healthy eating behaviour and to treat eating disorders like diabetes, obesity or binge-eating.

Cognitive behaviour therapies usually also include teaching participants the risks of their daily behaviour. In their daily life participants should avoid risks like unhealthy meals or unbalanced sleep.

They should avoid mood-altering drugs and try to deal with their emotions by themselves. It is also helpful to do exercises which improve their body image and lead to a higher endorphin level which gives people a feeling of happiness.

Mindfulness Techniques for Addiction

Addiction is a serious issue that should be addressed by a mental health professional or an institution that has proven effective in treating addiction. However, there are some mindfulness techniques you can use to supplement addition management.

Mindfulness has been shown to help those suffering from addiction in decreasing their usage and reduce the occurrence of more long-term psychiatric problems (“Extinguish addiction”, 2016).

The practice of mindfulness was found to result in these outcomes through increasing the number and strength of connections in the brain, allowing us to become more aware of our body and more effective at regulating our emotions.

In addition, mindfulness helps individuals recognize, tolerate, and cope with negative emotions (“Extinguish addiction”, 2016).

Just as with other struggles, there are many mindfulness techniques that aid in dealing with addiction, but there is one technique that is specifically crafted for those suffering from cravings. There is a theory that people develop cravings through incentive sensitization, a process that occurs in four steps:

  • Repeated exposure to an addictive substance results in hypersensitization, meaning that the substance or substances will have a greater effect on neurobehavioral response in the future.
  • Hypersensitization leads to incentive salience, a desire for the substance that is well beyond a simple preference.
  • The incentive salience all but guarantees the individual will repeat the behavior.
  • This unconscious process develops into a conscious craving for the substance.

The result of this process is a very strong association between the substance and the “reward” (the feeling an individual gets when s/he uses the substance).

This is where mindfulness can come in

Following this theory, it is not the fault of the individual that they experience cravings.  They are not punished with cravings for being weak, or lazy, or unwilling to stop.  Cravings are like intruders on the mind, uninvited guests that try to influence behavior.

Taken in this light, those struggling with addiction can use mindfulness to pause, identify the cravings and label them as intruders, and thereby give themselves permission to ignore them. Mindfulness can turn the cravings into passing thoughts that may disappear simply by acknowledging their presence (“Mindfulness meditation”, 2017).

For more information and a guided meditation on dealing with addiction cravings you can watch this short video by Jessica Graham:

The SMART Recovery website also offers helpful resources for incorporating mindfulness into addiction treatment.

Alternatively, if you are looking for a more comprehensive information on the neurological origins of our addictive behaviours and how we can challenge addiction a the level of the brain, you can watch this fascinating talk by Dr. Judson Brewer:

A Take Away Message

I hope that I have sufficiently provided you with enough techniques, exercises, and activities to start bringing you and your clients the benefits of mindfulness. Mindfulness can be used in a variety of populations including those on any part of the spectrum of mental well-being from dialectical behavioural therapy treatments for borderline personality disorders to group-based mindfulness for beginners.

Mindfulness is a relatively easy practice that can encourage participation regardless of budget, occupation, or diagnosis and can deliver significant results in the form of enhanced quality of life, self-confidence, and peace of mind, among many others.

While mindless distractions can certainly have a place in a healthy life, it can’t hurt to try an activity that helps us become more aware of our bodies, our thoughts, and our selves.

I wish you good luck in cultivating mindfulness, and I hope you find what you desire from your practice. Please leave me your comments and experiences in the box below.

Where we draw the line: The issue of sentience

Great article


free-wallpaper-19Note: We are all animals. In this blog, when I use either “other animals” or “our fellow animals” I mean “non-human animals”. I don’t use the latter term here because it creates a conceptual divide between human and non-human, one that as an abolitionist, I’m trying to collapse. I don’t only mean “wild” mammals. I mean all animals, including domestic animals, but also including non-mammalian species, arthropods, and invertebrates.

The following is my own personal view on the issue of who is “morally considered” in terms of rights, and who is not. I don’t have any credentials, nor have I written peer-reviewed papers, so this is definitely a lay-person’s approach. I examine the issue of using sentience as the criteria for consideration, and the problems that arise. I hope people find this review useful or at least thought provoking. If I’ve misrepresented the position of any theorist I reference, I…

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Home Made Vegan Dog Food

Homemade Sweet Potato–Peanut Butter Vegan-Dog Delight for Dogs
Adapted from a recipe by Corinne Alexaki

6 cups filtered water
1/2 cup whole-grain rice
1/2 cup black or white quinoa
1 cup lentils
3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
3 cups or 24 oz. natural peanut butter
1 1/2 cups or 8–12 oz. apple cider vinegar, optional (Vinegar helps stop doggie gas, but if your dog doesn’t have this problem, you can omit it.)

For Each Serving:

1 Tbsp. flaxseed oil (Store in the fridge.)
200–250 mg cranberry extract (Vegan dogs, especially, can benefit from this acidifier to maintain a healthy urinary pH.)
VegeDog multivitamin powder (Follow directions on the label.)
Prozyme Plus (Follow directions on the label.)
125 mg or 1/4 pill PB8 brand probiotic

  • Bring the water to a boil, then add the rice, quinoa, lentils, and sweet potatoes.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes to 1 hour, or until the rice, quinoa, lentils, and sweet potatoes are very soft and well cooked. Stir occasionally and add more water as needed. When fully cooked, remove from the heat.
  • Mash.
  • Add the peanut butter and vinegar (if using) and stir well.
  • Place 3 to 5 servings (1 serving is about 2/3 cup*) in the refrigerator and store the rest in the freezer.
  • Just before serving, mix in the flaxseed oil, cranberry extract, Vegedog, Prozyme Plus, and PB8. Serve twice daily.

* Based on the nutritional needs of a 20-lb. dog. Adjust according to your own dog’s weight.

Note: Please remember to introduce dogs to a new food gradually. This means replacing a portion of the current food with the new food and increasing the amount of new food while decreasing the amount of old food over a period of 10 days or so