Tattood Buddhist responds to Anguished for Animals
Dear Tattood Buddhist:
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and answer my question. I am a newbie when it comes to Buddhism. With that said, one of the many reasons why I turned to Buddhism is to find ways to cope with certain thoughts.
I am a big time animal lover. Anytime I happen to hear or read about a story involving animal cruelty, I get so worked up over it that I get physically ill/sick to my stomach. I can't help but think about what the poor animal went through and I get so angry and upset that someone could be so hateful and cruel. I have yet to find a way to ease my mind or try to find the positive in something like this. I definitely don't go out of my way to find out about such things, I try very hard to avoid them. But you know how it is, you could be watching the news or scrolling through the internet and come across something.
Any advice you can give me with be SO VERY MUCH appreciated. Thanks so much for your time.
Anguished for Animals
Tattood Buddhist is so touched to be able to answer you…
Dear Anguished for Animals:
Ahhh, you are an animal lover, after my own heart, my dear. Your words echo words that I have expressed, myself. You want to know how to manage the impact of stories about the abuse of animals. Honestly, do you imagine that you should not be so affected? I believe that there is an opportunity here, to experience Compassion and Empathy through our pets and animals in need.
If I let myself connect to the story, feel the experience and judge those involved, I am lost in a sea of emotion and gut reaction. And when I get lost in that way, I also lose my ability to be appropriately pro-active, unconditional and peaceful.
I think it is wise that you limit your exposure to the individual stories. Change the channel, disconnect from “insisters”, release the guilt you feel for other’s actions. When you do find yourself in that moment where you are already seeing what you don’t want to see, try these things.
Come back to yourself and get as Centered as you can. Breathe deeply into yourself, because there is where you find the Truth.
Once you get Connected to yourself, let yourself feel your reaction. Go ahead and Embrace it for a few moments. Really give yourself permission to be angry, upset, hurt, sick… whatever is true.
Then, take a very deep breath, or two or three… with each breath, let yourself center, ground and release your visceral connection to that specific situation.
Let it go and Trust Spirit. (This is the tough one and requires Discipline, you must literally choose to disconnect yourself from the individual stories and create enough distance that you are not being harmed.)
Develop Perspective and recognize your place in this vast creation. You cannot help every animal, nor are you meant to. When you are centered and connected to your core and your own truth, you can realize your own Dharma or “Right Action”. From here, you will know your “path”.
So here are some ideas on how to counteract or even positively contribute to these issues.
Call strong boundaries in places like social media and even with well meaning friends who share these kinds of stories. Often these stories actually cause people to shut down and withdraw, rather than reach out to help. And of course, the darker side of these stories is how they are used to manipulate people to give money… always money… follow the money.
Bring your focus to the positive ways people are really helping animals. Get connected to some positive sites like “Dog Bless You” or “DogBook” or the “Rolling Dog Project”.
Find One Rescue organization that doesn’t use horror stories as fund or consciousness raiser. Bring your focus and support to that one organization. It will actually be more effective than spreading your support across many different ones.
And here is I think, the most important advice I can give you. We are all blessed with gifts. Find your gift and bring it to the world. Many people have asked me how I can sit with humans and listen to their stories of how they were deeply wounded and not be negatively affected, myself. I look around at the noble and courageous work others do, and I know I could not survive it. I stand in gratitude and awe of folks who do things like Animal Rescue or Hospice work. If it is your gift or your calling it will feed you and sustain you even when it is challenging. But if it damages you, then it is NOT your work. Your gift, your calling, your passion, your direction is perfect for you and ENOUGH for the world. Again, bring your focus to your own path and give yourself to it. This is the work of a lifetime and worthy of every step.
Tattood Buddhist is grabbing the leashes for her sweet babies and headed to the park. Hope to see you there!
A personal note:
Ok, this is probably one of the most difficult answers I have given. Why? Because this subject is so close to my heart and the possible directions to go are vast. Animal Rescue and humane treatment is alive and well in my part of the world. And for that I am eternally grateful.
I am taking a rare liberty to get personal and promote the Two By Two Rescue Service in Helena, AL, that I support. They are wonderful, Christian based, kind, compassionate, passionate and so very generous. My newest baby came through them. They are also wonderful to tell their rescue stories. They somehow manage to let you know of some of the worst conditions without creating that horror response that makes you want to turn away. And they always make sure to complete the story with the happy ending complete with photos and hugs.
If you don’t have a rescue, check with your Vet… they probably help animals and need donations to cover those expenses. And, of course, if you can, foster or adopt. Certainly remember to tag, chip and spay. You will save lives and change an animal’s experience fur ever!
Sweet rescue baby! The gift that keeps on giving.
c/Deb Paradise, 2014. All Rights Reserved.