How to celebrate a kinder Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a beautiful opportunity to celebrate peace, kindness—and turkeys. Each year, I try to find a way to celebrate compassion on this special day. Last year, I joined Gene Baur and Farm Sanctuary at the Celebration for the Turkeys in downtown San Francisco. This year, I plan to share an array of delicious homemade vegan dishes with my family and friends.

Though some people may give you a strange look when you mention you plan to celebrate a vegan Thanksgiving, keep in mind you’re in good company: Beyoncé, Russell Brand, Ellen Degeneres, Liam Hemsworth, Jared Leto, Alicia Silverstone, Gwen Stefani, Carrie Underwood and Kat Von D will be enjoying a cruelty-free Thanksgiving, too.

Why animals make meditation look so easy

Animals make the best meditation partners. It’s true! Their natural, calming presence helps to anchor us “in the now,” and they approach life with unconditional love, a real challenge for us humans. Next time your cat rests with its eyes closed, or your dog takes a snooze on your lap, don’t just think about how cute they are (because, of course, they are), but think, too, about what we can learn from them to improve our own meditation practice. Animals are natural meditators, with peaceful, nonjudgmental minds and open hearts. They remind us what we should all strive for whenever we meditate.

6 animal charities helping to mainstream Reiki

With Reiki increasingly gaining acceptance—not just in the U.S. but across the world—I’m seeing more and more animal organizations not just accepting Reiki, but loving the holistic modality and making a concerted effort to share Reiki with their animals. This is a dream come true for me: I co-founded the nonprofit SARA (Shelter Animal Reiki Association) with the goal of rolling out animal Reiki programs into communities globally. To see animal Reiki being embraced on a wider scale is truly incredible!

Have you been wanting to pioneer an animal Reiki program in your local shelter, or expand an existing one? For inspiration, check out the following amazing SARA-affiliated animal organizations that are embracing Reiki. (Visit their websites for more information and to learn how you can help them.) The more people and organizations that follow in their footsteps, the more animals that can be helped:

How to elevate your daily dog walk

Happy National Walk Your Dog Week, everyone! This yearly celebration, which runs October 1-7, originated in 2010 to highlight the growing problems of canine obesity and behavioral issues. Though it officially ends tomorrow, that’s no reason to stop focusing on the importance of walking our dogs, no matter the weather or how busy we are, every single day.

There are so many fun ways to take dog-walking to the next level. One way is to make the experience transformative and healing for not just your dog, but also for you. In case you missed them the first time around, here are links to two articles I wrote on this very topic:

Get inspired by the gratitude and reverence of animals

Animals are capable of so much more than humankind often gives them credit for. Things like intelligence. Love. A moral compass. And even gratitude and reverence.

A few months ago, I talked more about this in my article on the four truths of animal sentience. What’s so amazing is that as we continue to witness animals’ very real range of emotions in the wild, we can choose to learn from them, to be inspired by their heartful, compassionate souls.

When animals are rescued, for instance, they often give big, loving “thank yous” to their rescuers. Here are just a few examples of animals showing gratitude (be prepared to smile!):