My Experience Going Vegan

Starting this summer, I decided to take the plunge into veganism.  I suppose it’d be more accurate to say I’m a semi-vegan now, because sometimes I’ll eat animals or drink milk.  However, I only do that when I’m with other people, such as eating dinner with my parents. For example, one day my Dad grilled steaks and I could see how excited he was for me to eat it.  In those situations I’ll eat what’s put in front of me, but whenever I’m preparing meals for myself, I’m exclusively vegan these days.

My diet consists of things like beans, lentils, oatmeal, brown rice, salads of all sorts, all kinds of fruits, such as cherries, oranges, apples, grapes, pears, etc.  I only drink water and plant based protein shakes.  You get the idea.

It’s been an incredible experience.  It was hard at first, mainly because I didn’t know what I was supposed to eat.  I was nibbling on some cherries and eating a few oranges and thinking, ok, this is a nice snack, but what about actual food?  I lift weights everyday in the gym, I need a lot of protein, carbs, and serious nutrition.  But once I learned the dishes, how to prepare them, etc., it really has been working out.

The first thing you notice is how light and full of energy you are.  It’s the complete opposite of feeling plugged up and groggy.  I just feel light.  Strangely, I’m now at a place where I don’t even want hamburgers, pizza, potato chips, and all the rest of it.  I know how good I feel, all day long, when I eat fruits, vegetables, beans, and all that.  Eating other junk now feels like pouring sludge into my body.  I don’t want it anymore.

Like one day I was with someone and they had a big bag of these puffy cheesy cheetos, and I grabbed two of them.  I took a bite and it was just like, my gosh, the salt!  My mouth has become super sensitive to things like that.  So much sugar.  So much salt.  So much grease.  Nowadays I’m just like, eh, no thanks!

Another thing was that my body got completely chizzled.  I wasn’t a fat person before this, but the fat I did have just melted off my body.  I look in the mirror and it’s like, hey, not bad!  I’m feeling better, looking better, nice!

And here’s the biggest one — I used to get headaches a lot.  I was popping aspirin all the time, sometimes several times a week, dealing with headaches from working on the computer all day.  I thought it was my eyesight, strain from staring at the screen.  I blamed my contacts, I blamed my glasses, I blamed my computer screens.  I tried all kinds of weird solutions, none of which worked.  I figured it was a fact of life.  However, it wasn’t!  Those headaches just went away.  I don’t get them anymore.  That was huge for me.  I remember the first week I didn’t have headaches, and I was like, wow.  Then the second week, still no headaches.  Double wow.  Then a third week, no headaches.  Oh my gosh, this is amazing.  Then a month, two months, and now three months.  No headaches!

That makes me wonder, what was causing my headaches?  Was it the weird hormones in all the milk I was drinking?  Maybe it was the steroids and growth hormone in all the chicken?  Maybe it was all the preservatives and salt in the processed food?  Maybe it was the MSG that’s in almost everything?  Who knows.

The more I learn, I just realize that our culture and way of life causes so much bodily suffering.  So many people suffer health problems, all because of what we’re eating.  We feel like crap, we’re obese, we’re all plugged up inside, and all because we eat the wrong things.

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My Struggles Loving The World

Over the last several years fitness has become very important to me, and I’ve been going to the gym four or five times a week, being careful about what I eat, how much I eat, and all of that. I recently switched to a different gym so that I could work out with my cousin, who is only able to work out later at night.  The previous gym I lifted in was owned by a woman who always carefully selected the playlist playing in the background.  It was mostly classic rock from the 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s.  Eric Clapton, Dire Straights, Metallica.  A lot of it great stuff.  However, now at this new gym, they play mainstream pop music, and I’ve been very surprised at how dark and depressing music has become.

Have you guys ever had that feeling when you walk into a place, and it has this depressing energy?  It’s intangible, but somehow you can still sense it.  You just feel that this place is depressing and low energy.  That’s how it feels in there.

So I remember starting this new gym, and on one of the first days in there, I heard this bizarre song playing in the background, radiating throughout the entire gym.  I grabbed my cousin by the shoulder and said, “Are you hearing this song they’re playing on the radio?”  He was like, “What?  I wasn’t even paying attention to it.”  Then we both listened and were very surprised, to say the least.  I found the song on Youtube, and why don’t you all take a listen?

It’s strange to find yourself in the gym, motivational posters on the walls, showing fit people with a positive message of, “There’s never a day off!”; another shows a guy flexing his biceps, “I may not be the strongest, but I’m always doing my best!”  You’re all fired up, ready to hit the weights and then this starts playing in the background.

“I don’t wanna be alive
I don’t wanna be alive
I just wanna die today
I just wanna die
I don’t wanna be alive
I don’t wanna be alive
I just wanna die
And let me tell you why”

The song just goes on and on, about how nobody cares about him, how he’s unloved, and so on.  It was just like, wow, that was dark.  So we go about our workout, doing some bicep curls and tricep extensions, and the next song comes on.  It was this.

“I’m a mess, I’m a loser,
I’m a hater, I’m a user,
I’m a mess for your love, it ain’t new.
I’m obsessed, I’m embarrassed,
I don’t trust no one around us
I’m a mess for your love, it ain’t new.

Nobody shows up unless I’m paying
Have a drink on me, cheers to the failing”

It’s just like, again?  You’re a psychological mess, you hate everyone and everything, you’re an addict, you’re obsessive and embarrassed, nobody loves you either.  Ok.  Wow.  Two songs like this in a row, what are the chances.

So we continue our workout and we hear the announcer, “You’re listening to Spider Radio, playing the top hits of today.”  Top hits?  This is mainstream pop?  Alrighty then.  Get ready for the next song that played!

“Said he tried to phone me
But I never have time
He said that I never listen
But I don’t even try
I got a new place in Cali But I’m gone every night
So I fill it with strangers so they keep ’em alive
She said she told you she knows me
But the face isn’t right
She asked if I recognized her and I told her I might
See, everywhere I go I got a million different people tryna’ kick it
But I’m still alone in my mind
I know you’re dying to meet me
But I can just tell you this
Baby, as soon as you meet me
You’ll wish that you never did
(You’ll wish that you never did)
I stayed a night out in Paris where they don’t know my name
And I got into some trouble with that drink in my veins”

At this point I’m thinking, geez, listening to this is exhausting and depressing.  No time for your real friends and you don’t even try.  Beautiful home but you don’t appreciate it.  Once people meet you they’ll wish they never did?  Out in Paris, one of the most beautiful cities on Earth to walk around and explore, yet you’re disappointed and drowning away your sorrows in alcohol because nobody knows who you are?

Now we come to my struggle.  I want to have peace of mind, and to have that I need to love the world.  I need to see it as myself, and instead of suffering, I will feel compassion and love.  To truly love and have compassion, you have to see people as yourself.  There has to be a deep unity there.  The deepest spiritual states are when you see everyone as everything as aspects of the one true creator, and you see it all as aspects of yourself.  That’s hard for me to do.

But intellectually, just thinking deeply about it all, I came to that conclusion that we’re all one long ago.  Some of you may remember old posts where I thought about wiring people’s brains together and how that would affect consciousness, I pondered if we could exist without an environment to live in, and so forth, and the truth that we are all one became quite clear to me.  However, that’s not how I feel deep within.  I haven’t full integrated it.  I really struggle with that.

I have a lot of baggage and old ways of thinking that I struggle with.  When I hear radio stations like that in this new gym, and I just look at the world in general, there is a giant sense of rejection.  My inner being just holds its nose and wants to get away from it.  It feels like somebody is holding my head over a garbage dumpster and is making me take deep breath after deep breath.  Something within me is screaming, “I’m not here to tell these people how to live their lives, but whatever it they’re doing and thinking, it obviously isn’t working for them.”

Emotionally, this world feels very broken and screwed up to me.  I feel like I’m living in that movie ‘They Live’. I’ve somehow ended up in some alien matrix, surrounded by some strange form of mind control, and most everyone around me is asleep, and there are strange, manipulative beings all around me trying to manipulate all of our emotions and energy, attempting to create as much suffering as possible.  That’s how it feels.

These manipulative beings are always sending messages: Submit, obey, conform, sleep!  There’s no hope!  Be afraid!  Fear!  Terror!  Engage in pointless activities!  Don’t think!  Conform to squirrely religions, give your hope to political leaders who don’t care about you! Consume!  Have sex!  You’re ugly! You’re inadequate!  Buy more stuff!  Drink alcohol!  Escape!  Play violent video games!  Listen to depressing music!  Escape!  Sleep!  Obey!

 You’re powerless!  Only a deity from above can save you in the afterlife!  Put your hope in Buddha, Jesus, Allah!  Until then, give your hope to these people!  Hate this!  Hate that!  Hate the ‘other’, they’re holding you back!  Fight for peace!  Fight the ‘other’!  Hate the Republicans!  Hate the Democrats!  Hate the immigrants!  Hate the rich!  Hate the poor!  Hate!  Hate!  Hate!  Submit to your leaders!  All power exists outside of you!  You are nothing!  You have no power!At this point in my life, I’m just slowly unplugging, and simply observing all of this.  This madness.  What is it?  Why am I here?  Am I supposed to learn something from this?  If so, what exactly am I supposed to learn?

When I got into meditation and bringing peace to my mind, focusing on love, joy, peace, kindness, and the rest of it, all of this darkness just jumps out at me.  The key is not to identify with it.  It’s not so much about “right” and “wrong”, it’s moreso that it seems clear to me that the way they’re conducting themselves causes suffering, both to themselves and others, and that seems like a stupid way to live.

I’m doing my best to try to love everybody and extend compassion out toward everything.  It’s a struggle.  Take for instance when those negative songs were playing in the gym.  I learned a trick from the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.  Its annoying when you’ve just spent the past hour meditating and you’re in this wonderful state of mind, and you go into the gym fired up, and then the gym’s stereo takes a mental diarrhea in your brain.   But I’ve learned what to do.  You observe, let those thoughts come in, and then from within you shower the thoughts with love, and you offer unconditional love and compassion to these misguided souls and their music.  Then you do your best to understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.  Why are these singers so unhappy?  Why are our leaders so corrupt and greedy?  You keep loving, walking in peace, blessing, offering compassion, and try to understand what’s going on as best you can.  That’s how you unplug from this mind matrix, and love the world more.  I’m working on it.

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The Best Self-Reflection Exercise I Know Of

This post is for anyone who wants to improve their life and state of mind.  You want to find a more wonderful place from deep within?  Here’s a very simple exercise I like a lot.

First calm your mind the best you can. You can focus on your breathing, or imagine yourself in a beautiful landscape, or whatever puts you in a calm, peaceful place.  Once you’ve silenced your mind (if you can), think on these three thoughts, one at a time.

  1. What have I received from ____________ ?

  2. What have I given to _______________ ?

  3. What troubles and difficulties have I caused to _____________ ?

I do this when I wake up in the morning, before I even get out of bed, and I like to do it for about thirty minutes or so.  Just pose these questions to your mind, and then give it a short moment to answer you.  Let your own mind tell you the things you should be thankful for, the nice things you could be doing for others, and ways to make things right.

You know that small voice I’ve been talking about on my blog lately?  That inner light?  That peace of mind rooted in something beyond anything outside of you?  That force, that divine intelligence, that pure loving energy, that … whatever it is … it revels and delights in these topics.  Just give it a chance to discuss these things with you; you make one step toward it and it’ll make ten toward you.

When you think on these questions, you’re tuning into a mental radio station that is very nice.  I would label it divine.  The first question tunes you to Thankfulness FM, your daily download of appreciation, positive emotion, motivation and energy.  The next tunes you into Giving FM, your personally tailored gameplan to make everyone’s life better, including your own.  The last question tunes you into to Self-Aware FM, how to quit causing pain to yourself and others.

Try it out.

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My Quest For Peace Of Mind

If a had a genie in a bottle, and I could ask for anything, there’s no doubt in my mind what I would ask for — peace of mind.  I wouldn’t be asking for wealth, material possessions, romantic love, or any of the things which are so commonly desired.  I would choose peace of mind, all day, everyday.

Wouldn’t it be amazing if everywhere you went, you just had this quiet peace, this quiet contentment where you just feel fine inside.  You don’t have nagging thoughts driving you nuts.  All the craziness in the world isn’t bothering you.  Your friends, relatives, and family are all involved in madness, but somehow none of it is bothering you.  The president isn’t bothering you.  Congress isn’t bothering you.  Nobody can touch you.  It’s not that you don’t see the evil.  You’re aware of it all, but it just can’t touch you.  Your emotions oscillate between quiet peace to moments of joy when nice things happen, and then back to peace.  People ask you, “How are you doing Jason?”  “Good”, and when you say good, you’re not lying, you’re doing good.

I watched this documentary on Netflix the other day on Ram Dass.  He is spiritual guru who was big in the 60’s and 70’s I guess?  He’s still popular with a lot of people.  As I watched the show, you see this old man, his health is failing him, and he suffered from a massive stroke which has left him dependent on caretakers to do everything for him.  But you know what?  This world can’t touch him.  Him and everyone around him are smiling, enjoying every moment.  He’s out there blessing everyone and everything.  He can barely move, but they put floatation devices on him, and then he goes out into the ocean with his caretakers, and they’re all laughing with one another, thanking one another, and all you hear him saying is, “My life is good.  I am loving awareness.  I love you.  I love the world.”  That is peace of mind.

I don’t really have to tell anybody this, but our world can be a madhouse.  As I’ve grown older and thought about what is important in life, I’ve come to the conclusion that what really matters is not success, or praise from others, or possessions, or anything like that, but a joyful, peaceful state of mind, just like Ram Dass had in that documentary.  The storms of this world swirl around you, but you’re centered in something beyond this place, and you can’t be moved.

I mean think about it.  What do we all want?  We want peace.  We want joy.  We want to be happy.  So isn’t the goal to be able to find those things, regardless of the state of the world we find ourselves in?  The world is always changing, but we want those wonderful things to always be with us, regardless of our circumstances.  When this world can’t shake you, and can’t steal your joy, you’ve found something real.

You know, I appreciate science, I appreciate physics, and technology, and all of that.  I’m involved in doing research and teaching everyday.  But you guys want to know the real stuff?  The important stuff?  The real substance of life?  It’s peace of mind.

And you guys want to know what else?  Almost like the law of attraction, because I’ve been desiring with fierce intent to find this peace, to know more about it, to understand it, and to walk in it, it’s been coming to me.  I’ve been finding it, and everyday is just brighter, with more color, with more life.  And the strangest thing I’ve been learning is that none of it is “out there”.  It’s not in anything external to me.  It’s all within me.  It’s about connecting to the energy of God, the creative life energy of the universe, and just opening up your soul, so that instead of blocking this divine light energy, you conform your mind to the true laws of the universe, God’s laws, and then it opens up, the energy flows in, and the more you quit blocking it, the more wonderful your life becomes.

These laws are simple, they’re so simple.  I’d like to list them out, one by one, and just talk about them a little bit.  These are the keys that everyone wants, and anybody can have.  And what I’ve been learning is that peace of mind comes from cutting out everything in my life that doesn’t conform to these laws.  And when I say cutting things out, I’m not really talking about changing the world.  It’s not the world that you need to change.  If that is your goal, you can kiss peace of mind goodbye.  This place is so botched up, if you think you’re going to be able to fix much of anything here, I wish you good luck, but you’re going to fail and the problems are going to overwhelm you.  I’m moreso talking about reforming your mind, and being very careful what you let into your mind.  For example, stop watching television shows that don’t align with these laws.  Stop playing video games that don’t align with these laws.  Stop engaging in conversations with other people that don’t align with these laws.  Stop reading news that doesn’t align with these laws.  Stop reading blogs, websites, Facebook posts, or whatever it is, if that information doesn’t align with these laws.  Look at everything in your life, especially things which influence your mind in one way or another, and work day by day, to cut out everything that doesn’t conform to these principles.  So here we go.

Love
This is the benevolent concern for the welfare and happiness of those around you.  It includes caring for that thing, identifying with it, not feeling separate from it, and to desire good things for it. So for example, if you turn on the radio, or the news, or whatever, and you hear some talk show host running everyone down, that’s not love.  That’s creating separation and hostility, and we don’t speak that way about people we care about, who we think of and treat as equals.  Cast it out of your life.  It’s killing your soul.  You won’t realize this until you cut it out of your life, and you start feeling so much better.  Love everybody.  EVERYBODY.  Have good intentions and desires for everyone.  Not just your family.  Not just your particular group.  Not just your friends.  Everyone.  Bless everyone.  Bless everything.  Desire good things for everyone and don’t let any circumstance or situation convince you that somebody is unworthy of good things.  Don’t play that duality game.  Don’t think of good and evil, us and them, or anything like that.  Love, love, and love more.  This is especially true of your enemies.  Love your enemies.  That’s how you end the hostility — love, wishing them well, desiring good things for them.  Be on everyone and everything’s side.

Joy
This is the emotional expression that follows like a shadow from a life well lived.  It’s the emotional after-effect that comes from life going well.  Once you experience it, you’ll want to have more of it.  With everything you let into your mind, ask your conscience, is this behavior, this way of thinking, this way of approaching life, is this a life well lived?  If not, then stop giving it your attention.  Don’t live in the cesspools of life.  And as for those who do live in the cesspools, don’t judge them, hate them, or avoid them, but love them and bless them.

Peace
This is an inner harmony with the world as it is, lacking any sort of hostility, or fear, or anger.  So just like before, with everything you’re letting into your mind, books, television shows, whatever it is, just ask yourself, is this bringing more peace into my life, or is it creating hostility, fear, and anger?  If it doesn’t bring peace, let it go.  Get rid of it.  When you have a particular approach to life and it doesn’t generate love, joy, and peace, then step back and reevaluate it.  You’re missing something.

Forebearance
This includes tolerance, remaining good-natured, friendly, and patient when dealing with delays, incompetence, etc.  Things in this world will not go as you want them to.  There’s always going to be flight delays at the airport, that store clerk that doesn’t know what they’re doing, or that very loud-mouthed yet very ill informed person.  Don’t let it upset you.  I’ve found a strategy to combat this problem.  Even if I have important things I need to accomplish and these delays are getting in my way, I’ve personally prioritized love, peace, and joy over any material accomplishment in this world.  The same goes with me being “right” in an argument.  I may have things I need to get done, but NONE of them are worth making that clerk feel bad at the job or that person feel unwelcome when talking to me.  I may feel my arguments and facts are superior, but that doesn’t excuse me not respecting you, or making you feel unwelcome, or unappreciated.  We’ve all got enough we’re dealing with in life and we don’t need to be getting in there and making everything difficult.  The highest priority is to bring happiness and joy into every situation.  Everything else will just have to wait.  “Jason you’re going to be late for the meeting.”  Well, I guess I’ll be late, or maybe I need to learn to leave earlier.  Whatever it may be, I’m not going to create a bad situation when things don’t go my way.

Kindness
This is the quality of being warmhearted, considerate, and compassionate.  It’s about being nice, respectful, and appreciative.  It’s a pleasant disposition, where you have concern and consideration of others.  It includes empathy. It’s when you’re willing to be helpful to someone in need and not seek anything in return.  Be kind to people, and as before, with anything and everything you’re letting into your mind, ask yourself, is this way of thinking, this way of looking at the world, this way of behaving in the world, is it kind?  If not, then stop doing it, and stop thinking it.

Goodness
This is all about moral excellence.  Is this thing admirable?  Is it pleasing, valuable and useful?  Is it desireable?  Dig deep inside, find that inner light, and with everything you’re doing, ask yourself, is what I’m doing admirable?  Is it beautiful?  Is this excellence?  And as before, with all books, articles, etc., ask yourself, probe that light within you, is this morally excellent?  If not, cut it out of your life.  Stop giving it your attention.  Let it go.

Faithfulness
This is a fidelity to the original.  This is a loyalty, a reliability, something you can count on.  The “real” things in this life, the important stuff, it never changes.  Ever.  Don’t focus your attention on the cheats and morally bankrupt people of this world.  Be someone who can be depended upon.  Someone who can be relied on.  Be a rock.  The world may be going nuts, but you stand strong and do what’s right.  And what is right?  Well, what’s right always aligns with these laws we’re going over.  If it doesn’t, you may think it’s right, and you may even have all kinds of rationalizations and arguments for why you believe it’s right, but it isn’t right, and it’s not going to create anything worth experiencing in this world.  These laws are immutable.  The only energy that’s real in this world is God’s energy, and God is love.  When anything is created or attempted that lacks some aspect of the fullness of these laws, it just makes a mess.  I don’t care if your religion tells you you need to break these laws for the “greater good”.  I don’t care if your political beliefs make you think these laws need to be broken.  I don’t care if your great grandma made you sit on her knee, and told you this is the way it is, and that it’s the way your family has always done things.  It’s wrong.  Flat out wrong.  If it breaks these laws, it’s going to create suffering and misery — PERIOD.

Gentleness
In general, this is referring to kindness, consideration, and amiability.  This doesn’t mean you never get angry.  It’s about not letting anger get out of control and make everyone miserable.  You don’t want to be quick to anger, but also don’t want to be so detached from a situation when clearly anger is warranted and justified.  Aristotle denoted such justified and properly aligned anger as gentleness.  You’re not one to go off the handle at the slightest provocation, but you’re no pushover either.  You have a strong hand, but a soft touch.  It is a compassionate approach toward others weakness and failures.  You’ll speak the truth, even when it hurts someone, but will do so in a way that minimizes the suffering inflicted when doing so.  The stronger you are in this world, the more important it is that you are gentle, and do not abuse others with your strength or authority.  For example, I’ve noticed that good corporations have a gentle approach when dealing with employees.  They won’t fire you for the slightest mistake, but they do hold you accountable.  Most will give you so many strikes before you are terminated, and they make the rules and policies clear to you in the beginning.  After so long, if you behave well, those strikes are absolved.

Self-Control
This is about denying yourself and controlling your impulses, when you need to.  You’re in control of your behavior.  You’re able to regulate your thoughts, emotions, and behaviors in the face of difficult situations, circumstances, and temptations.  Interestingly, psychologists have found that self-control is like a muscle — the more you use it, the better you get at it.  Whenever you’re learning new things, or trying to discipline yourself, if it’s helping you gain control of your behavior, especially keeping you from bad behavior, that’s a very wonderful thing.  Most of all, always believe that you have the strength within you to do the right thing because you do.

It’s not a bad idea to view this short life on Earth as a school to help you develop and appreciate these virtues and spiritual laws of the universe.  I’ve noticed that if you’re lacking in some aspect or dimension, this universe will keep bringing that particular failure to your face, basically making you deal with it.  For example, if you lack self-control, this world is going to keep putting things in front of you that set you off, or tempt you, or whatever it may be, until you finally notice and fix what you’re lacking.  If you’re lacking in forebearance, everytime you go shopping somewhere, every incompetent employee is going to be drawn to you like a magnet, making sure they’re right there to inconvenience you.  You’re going to keep yelling, and screaming, and getting angry until eventually you let it go.  And then once you find peace, you’ll be amazed at how that quits happening to you.

If you consistently keep these laws in mind, in everything you do, in everything you’re exposing your mind to, in every way you’re spending your time, and you use them as a guide to filter out everything that doesn’t align with them, it will really help you achieve peace of mind.  You’ll begin to notice a better, brighter world that was always right there in front of you, but you just were preoccupied with other, lesser things.

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Just Another Reason To Avoid Eating Fast Food

Did you know that the potatoes McDonalds uses for their french fries were grown using a pesticide so toxic, Idaho farmers can’t even enter their fields for an entire week after spraying?  But that’s not the end of it.  Once these potatoes are harvested, they’re not even close to edible.  They must “gas out” for six weeks in football stadium sized warehouses before finally being chopped up and sent to your local Mickey D’s.

If you want to be healthy, you have to buy fresh ingredients from a local grocery store and cook for yourself.  If you can afford it, buy organic produce.  Corporations today are so greedy, you can’t eat anything they produce.

I wonder how many people are getting cancer and other illnesses due to these toxic pesticides being used on our food?

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