Helping Our Fellow Animals

There is a growing movement to recognize what every pet owner and animal lover has known for years: that animals are capable of feeling most everything that humans feel. This, in turn, is part of what is driving the movement to a plant based diet, or more ethical treatment of animals raised for food consumption. In this model, the labels “organic,” “free range,” or “grass fed” are as much about the quality of life for these animals as it is about nutritional quality.

In his new book Mama’s Last Hug, Frans de Waal writes, “Emotions are everywhere in the animal kingdom, from fish to birds to insects and even in brainy mollusks such as the octopus.” Through wonderful anecdotes, the influential primatologist draws on renowned primate studies in an exploration of animal emotions that touches on such subjects as expressions, animal sentience, and free will. Through his stories, de Waal shows that animals express a wide range of emotions including, love, anger, fear, grief, and more. In a recent review from NPR, they reported “De Waal has no patience for accusations of anthropomorphism, the idea that we merely project our emotions onto other species; it’s anthropodenial that worries him, a refusal to recognize the similarity between ourselves and other animals.”

This recognition of animal feelings and potential suffering has led to increased legislation affirming animal rights and increasing punishments for animal abuse.  But there is still a lot to be done. For instance, without dwelling on the misery of commercial breeding and slaughtering, we each can do our part by eliminating or greatly reducing the amount of meat and fish we consume. We can contact and support our legislators who write laws protecting animals and their environments. And we can support, either financially or with volunteer work, those organizations that help animals.  I believe that each of us can walk the walk, lead by example, and educate those around us to care more about the non-humans who share our world.

Meet Anna Breytenbach, Animal Communicator

Animal Spirituality


When Your Body Speaks: Paying Attention to Food Cravings

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Several weeks ago I caught a doozy of a cold, leaving me with a stuffed head, chronically runny nose, sore throat and a bit of a cough. Bad enough for the first few days, weeks later it seemed like it just wouldn’t go away. I didn’t have the flu or strep throat or bronchitis, but the symptoms lingered. Finally, after weeks of getting more rest and watching my diet, it passed. During that time I ate lightly, (when I wasn’t sleeping,) but found myself throwing handfuls of thyme and garlic into virtually everything – from scrambled eggs to soup. It was a little bizarre, actually.

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They Are Us by Cheryl Shainmark

I remember in the ’60s, being six or seven years old, and visiting my great-grandmother Teresa in a nursing home, shortly before she died at age 94. She only spoke Italian, and my Dad taught us a few words to say to her: Come sta? Bene; prego. Her son Henry, my grandfather, was bi-lingual; her grandson – my Dad – had a smattering of the old tongue, and now I had the four words he taught me….

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Qigong Meets Quantum Physics by Imke Bock-Mobius

| review by Cheryl Shainmark

Qigong Meets Quantum Physics – Experiencing Cosmic Oneness by Imke Bock-Mobius Review by Cheryl Shainmark Qigong meets Quantum Physics is a wonderful integration of the various principles of qigong, mysticism, and the natural sciences. In the best Daoist tradition, Bock-Mobius has surmounted the duality of any discussion of religion (or philosophy) and science, and outlined her compelling vision of how it all comes together.

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Letting Go With Both Hands

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Several years ago I dreamed I was outside my house as a giant windstorm approached over the horizon. Like the buildup to a hurricane, the trees swayed, and leaves and debris blew over the lawn and through the air. I knew that it was urgent that I find shelter inside, but I was worried about my son and kept searching for him outside. A part of my mind knew that the dream was echoing reality: it was a truly tumultuous time in our household as our son went through a difficult period, moved out, and struggled to live independently. Back in my dream, reluctant to give up, I stayed outside until the storm was upon me.

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The Voice of Your Higher Self

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I learned over time that this is the sound of my higher self. Sometimes it’s barely there in the background, pointing me in the right direction with a nudge or a song lyric, or a bit of humor and love. Other times she comes through loud and clear with precise instructions or suggestions. No topic is too large or too small to engage my higher self, and the range of comments over the years have both startled and amused me.

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Take A Walk on the Wild Side: Encounters With Animals in Nature

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Most of us have had the experience — wonderful, heart-stopping, sometimes terrifying — of unexpectedly encountering an animal in the wild. It may be the tranquil sight of deer off in the woods, or a hawk circling in the canyons of Manhattan. It can be scary, as in some of the recent bear sightings on the East Coast, or inspire reverence for the raw beauty of the creature sighted.

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Tell Me A Story: Stirring Up Cellular Memories with Meditation

| by Cheryl Shainmark

I have been meditating for over fifteen years now and find it an essential part of my life. Many have written about the substantial physical and emotional benefits, and while I’ve certainly found that to be the case, too, I’ve also noticed that there is a component of releasing “cellular memories” that is rarely addressed. People shy away from phenomena that are not so easily explained, but whether you call it “cellular memories,” “past lives,” or releasing “old patterns,” I have found that there is something extraordinary happening that also brings welcome relief to the body and the spirit.

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The Health Benefits of Salt Caves

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Salt caves have been associated with healing for hundreds of years, and are a perennial favorite of European and Asian spa devotees… Himalayan pink salt is supposed to be the best and the purest for therapeutic purposes, but any salt minerals should work. Obviously, it can be pretty hard to trek to the Himalayas for the real deal, but not to worry. In the last few years “salt caves” have opened all over the country.

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If Plants Are Consciousness, What Happens When We Eat Them?

| by Cheryl Shainmark

Last week The New York Times ran an article, Sedate a Plant, and It Seems to Lose Consciousness. Is It Conscious? The new evidence that plants have a type of “conscious,” joins a host of other research indicating that plants are intelligent, understand where they are in space, respond to threats and obstacles, and communicate with each other. We’ve known for years that plants grow faster and lusher when you play the right music or speak nicely to them, but now there is evidence that plants form memories. Does that mean they remember that you were kind to them? And what does it mean now to eat them? What, if any, are the moral or ethical implications?

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