Imagine picking a ripe lemon off a tree, cutting it in half and then in quarters. You then lick your fingers, sticky with sharp lemon juice. You then take one quarter and rub it across your mouth and teeth.
With your head back, you take another quarter, bursting with juice, and squeeze it into your mouth. You bite into the third quarter and chew it slowly. You hold the last quarter between you thumb and third fingers and squeeze the juice into your mouth - and savour it.
How are you feeling right now? When I conduct this imaginary exercise with people, I see people grimacing and distorting their faces. Why is that? It’s because your body has a memory of the sharpness of the lemon and it’s as if you are experiencing that right now, even though there is no lemon present. Of course, some people enjoy eating lemons and for them, the experience is different.
So, if the inner reality of our bodies can be changed with our thoughts, can we use those thoughts to change our outer reality? Anyone who suggests this, is usually labelled as New Age or delusional. We live in an era when science has become the arbiter of all truth and the Law of Attraction isn’t sufficient for many of us to take unsubstantiated ideas seriously.
However, scientific studies into the relationship between focused intention and outer reality, are revealing just how powerful our thoughts are in affecting the outer world. The implications for creating a vegan world are very exciting.
1. Transcendental Meditation and the Maharishi Effect
In 1960, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi predicted that one percent of a population practicing the Transcendental Meditation technique would produce measurable improvements in the quality of life for the whole population. Later studies in the 1970’s were conducted to see if meditators using the Transcendental Meditation technique were having an effect in reducing violent crime. The results were astounding:
“This study demonstrated that the Maharishi Effect has immediate effect on crime as well as a long-term effect that persisted over six years, which was independent of the influences of major demographic variables known to affect crime.”
In the 1980s and 1990s, research projects in cities across the USA examined the relationship between large numbers of people meditating for peace and reducing violent behaviour in their respective cities. The results were, again, unexpected and revealed that when large numbers of people collectively meditated for peace in their city, reduced social violence, terrorism and even war, when conducted on behalf of cities affected by armed conflict.
More than 23 scientific research studies on the subject have been published in leading, peer-reviewed academic journals showing cause and effect outcomes. The interested reader is encouraged to review these studies at https://www.peacefulcities.org/about/research/ .
2. The Power of Intention
The journalist Lynne McTaggart in her book, The Intention Experiment: Using Your Thoughts to Change Your Life and the World (2007), explains her research into understanding consciousness. She viewed consciousness as a field of all possibilities where intention orchestrates its own fulfilment.
Her investigation revealed correlations between people’s intentions and local and personal outcomes. However, the more sceptical readers criticised these findings, saying that they do not show “cause and effect” between intentions and outcomes. Her latest book, The Power of Eight (2017), counters this criticism as she shares the results of several years of scientific research with very large groups of up to 10,000 people in group intention experiments.
These findings reveal the power of “group intention” where people come together with a shared intention and meditate repeatedly on achieving that outcome.
She has shown that the “group mind” is capable of:
• Changing the basic physical property of leaves
• Making plants grow up to twice as high as normal
• Altering the molecular cluster structure of tap water
• Altering the pH of polluted water
• Lowering violence in a war-torn or crime-ridden area
• Improving the health of patients with diagnosed conditions
The results are extraordinary and reveal empirically the power of focused, group intention on effecting outer change. Her research indicates that even a small group of people can obtain significant results.These two studies highlight the rapidly changing view of consciousness and its effect on what we perceive as physical reality. The implications for creating a vegan world are immense, and shows how imperative it is that we learn to collaborate and join forces with other vegans to align our intentions.
McTaggart has experimented with groups of eight, which is discussed in her most recent book, The Power of Eight, making this very manageable for others who want to conduct their own intention meditations.
The interested reader is encouraged to read about these studies as well as how to set up their own group intention experiments: https://lynnemctaggart.com/the-intention-experiment/
3. Having a Vegan Intention
These studies have huge implications for vegans who often become depressed, thinking a vegan world will never be possible. They encourage us to look within and align our thoughts and intention with the vegan world we so desire.
The power of intention often happens without a person consciously desiring an outcome. For example, over the years, I have seen clients who are bewildered at why family or friends have become easier to live with, almost the next day after the client has entered therapy. The difficult relationships they talk about suddenly become easier overnight, even before they have consciously made any changes themselves. It’s as if by investing in therapy to bring about change, they trigger a change at an energetic level, long before the client puts new skills and actions into place.
All sorts of activism is essential to bring about change and this can range from undercover work in factory farms and testing laboratories to making delicious vegan food to share with our families. However, these studies add a new dimension to what we can each do to accelerate the creation of a vegan world. We need to move from bemoaning the state of the world to showing people the truth of what is happening and sharing this more compassionate, healthy and abundant vegan world.
If our thoughts are negative and angry, then according to these studies we resonate negativity which feeds into the outcomes we don’t want. If we find a way to process the vystopia and anguish which so many of us experience, we are then better resourced to be resonating with the world of compassion we want and must create.
4. What Can We Do to Influence a Vegan World?
There is a lot we can do to accelerate the creation of a vegan world. The findings of the studies discussed above encourage us to align our intentions with our thoughts, feelings and actions and become more specific in what we so desire.
a) Clarify your intentions
These studies indicate the importance of having a very clearly defined, specific intention. Therefore, it’s not sufficient to have a desire for a vegan world. We must become very clear and specific about what a vegan world looks like. For example, a specific intention of a local group seeking change in their area, would be: “We intend to have a whole vegan aisle in a specific supermarket within the next three months”.
b) Inner and Outer Alignment
It is absolutely essential that we take good care of ourselves because burn-out is common, especially in front-line animal protection. We must learn to process the difficult emotions that come with the “burden of knowing” or else we become disillusioned. Our anguish is counterproductive to collectively creating a kinder world. There are some key practices that I recommend to align our intentions with our actions:
1. Practice good nutrition
2. Exercise regularly
3. Relax and have fun
4. Develop a positive mindset
5. Learn to meditate
6. Minimise stress
7. Gather support
c) Learn to collaborate
To benefit from the power of focused Group Intention, we must learn to collaborate. This can be challenging when strong emotions are present and we differ in our ability to resolve our differences. However, we have what is known in social psychology as a Superordinate Goal.
This is a goal which transcends our individual differences and conflicts and which is more attainable when we work together to attain it. Our superordinate goal is animal protection and a non-speciesist world.
5. The Path to Collaboration
In order to ensure we effectively collaborate, here are some key things to remember:
a) Be generous and forgiving.
We all vary in our ability to communicate effectively and people often react to what we say because it has been misinterpreted. If this happens to you, clarify what you mean and keep an open mind that what you hear people say is not always what they intended.
Words can so easily be misconstrued. By asking questions without blame or criticism for what you think you heard, you’ll be able to maintain rapport and concentrate on the task at hand.
Forgive people when they behave in ways you dislike, remembering that people’s hearts are usually in the right place and the animals are relying on us to get the best outcomes for them.
b) Set clear boundaries.
It’s your job to educate other people how to treat you and to set clear emotional boundaries of how you want people to act towards you.
When working with other people, demands will be made of you so be realistic about how much time and energy you have to put in. Learn to say no when things get too much and take time out to rejuvenate so you can be advocating in the long term. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and support.
c) Learn to have difficult conversations
Difficult conversations are often avoided to prevent conflict, feelings of self-conscious, losing control of our emotions or being undermined. When you can manage strong emotions that accompany strong opinions and adopt some key skills, you will find these easier.
Many of us have made this journey ourselves from non-vegan to vegan, and it's worth remembering our own experience as we talk with others.
The key is to ensure you maintain rapport and respect for the other person’s position, and this can the done through careful use of verbal and non-verbal language.
This article was first published in Issue 11, Jan/Feb 2019 of the Australian Vegan Magazine. To subscribe to this magazine visit: https://www.tavm.com.au/