Virtual Animal Advocates Retreat

by | Jan 21, 2022 | Retreats

May what I’m about to do yield favorable results. May it give me the capacity to benefit others. May it help me overcome ignorance and limitation. May it clear away all obstacles on the path. May it lead me to the union of wisdom and compassion. 


So begins the non-sectarian, guided meditation during an animal advocates’ retreat.

I know animal advocates to be people who work hard and care boldly. These qualities drive our animal rights movement forward, but we can also be slowed and maimed in the process. The pace we keep, and our empathy, can work against us personally if we are ceaseless and we don’t have the best support mechanisms in place.

The animals we fight for need us around as long as possible; they need us to not burn out. We’re told we should take care of ourselves but often, we just don’t make the time or we don’t know how.

It’s why the animal advocacy mindfulness and meditation retreats are such a gift to our community. In November, I participated in my fourth. The guidance from Tashi Nyima, the gathering of community, the silence, the digital detox, have become indispensable to my mental health and the maintenance of my optimism. These bi-annual retreats are the pause button I look forward to throughout the year. I leave the retreat feeling inspired by the community and the support, refreshed, and resolved to continue in my advocacy work with improved energy. And Tashi’s teachings are secular. As he says, he wants to help us be Buddhas – that is, happy and enlightened beings –  not Buddhists.

I first got into learning mindfulness practices in 2007. I jumped in with both feet: a ten-day Vipassana meditation (I highly recommend it if you can make the time. To say it’s full immersion is an understatement!), but there are so many different ways to learn and practice mindfulness. I think the key work though is “practice”. When my good habits of mindfulness and meditation get eroded by busy-ness, I have to put back the structures that keep my calm and equanimity. The more those are in place, the better equipped I am to face the enormous psychological struggles I sometimes endure in my work as an animal photojournalist. For me and for millions of practitioners worldwide, meditation brings calm and peace, and what can grow from that is mental clarity.

Throughout the retreat, practices are discussed and taught. It’s so fortifying. I swear I come out of these retreats a much better person! At each retreat, we learn ways of seeing and navigating the world. Some are based in Buddhist philosophy, like at the recent retreat, where we did a deep dive into The 16 Guidelines which are described simply as principles to live happily. Other practices, like writing gratitudes, and taking ten moments throughout the day to take ten calming, deep breaths, are great physical and psychological boosts to mood and stamina.

Pre-pandemic, these animal advocacy meditation retreats were less accessible because they were in person and held only once each year. Now, they are online, held eight times each year and in three languages, across four time zones. What a gift to us all, now more than ever during the pandemic, when so many of us are experiencing heightened anxiety, loneliness, and lack of community.

It feels so good to slow down. As an activist, I often feel compelled to work, and so I need structures and practices in place to help me slow down. As Tara Brach has said, “When I go half the speed, I take in twice as much.” And that is such a gentler and more expansive way to live. The retreat helps me slowdown, and reset.

May all be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. May all embrace happiness and the causes of happiness. May all abide in peace, free from self-grasping. May all attain the union of wisdom and compassion.


These are the words that conclude our short and guided meditations throughout the retreat. I feel renewed. And I hope that more people from our compassionate community will join in these retreats of comfort, learning, and self-care. When we care for ourselves, we’re better able to care for others and fight the good fight.

[photo from WeAnimals Media ]


Call for our Spanish speaking followers 👇

🐮🐷🐔🐣 ¡Te invitamos a unirte a la octava edición del Retiro de Meditación para Activistas por los Animales! 🧘🏻‍♀️ Este evento gratuito, dirigido a activistas hispanohablantes, se llevará a cabo los días 4 y 5 de mayo de 2024 a través de Zoom, y estará guiado por nuestro facilitador, Tashi Nyima.

❔ ¿Por qué participar? Sabemos que muchos activistas por los animales enfrentan desafíos emocionales que pueden afectar su capacidad para seguir adelante. 📣🆘

✅ En este retiro, aprenderás valiosas estrategias de autocuidado para fortalecer tu mundo interior y hacer que tu activismo sea más compasivo y efectivo. 🫶🏼✊🏼


¡Ayúdanos a difundir esta invitación entre tus contactos comprometidos con la causa! 🌱💚

#activistas #animalistas #meditacion #derechosanimales #animalrights #animalactivism #heartivism
🌟 Empowering Through Play! 🌟

Nature Trust (Tamilnadu, India) launched the project, "Enhance the Skills of Children with Disabilities through Play," supported by one of our seed grants 🎉✨ Timed with World Autism Awareness Day 2024, this initiative resonates with the theme of "Empowering the Autistic Voices."

In particular, the grant allowed Nature Trust to provide specially curated play materials to 20 remarkable children with diverse disabilities. These tools were thoughtfully selected to ignite their development and unlock their potential. 🧩🎨

At the distribution event held on March 31st, the atmosphere was filled with joy as children and parents expressed gratitude for the newfound importance of play in their lives. 💖👦👧 The presence of local leaders underscored the significance of inclusive initiatives like this one.

Beyond distribution, Nature Trust volunteers engaged with the children, creating lasting connections and memories. 🤝 

Through the power of play, Nature Trust is fostering a more inclusive world where every child has the opportunity to thrive and reach their full potential. 🌈 

Let's continue spreading joy and empowerment through play! 

#EmpowerThroughPlay #InclusiveCommunities 🌟 
#childrenwithdisabilities #autism #supportchildren #kindness #heartivism #India
It's Volunteer Month! 🌟 🌟 🌟 Today we celebrate our grant advisors working on Economic Development focus area.

By meticulously selecting projects for our seed grants, they're not just funding ideas—they're empowering communities and sparking transformative change. 

Join us in celebrating their invaluable efforts and the positive impact they're creating together!

🔸 Eric Anorrey (Ghana)
🔸 Mariam Nakiryowa (Uganda)
🔸 Jean-Marie Zihalirwa (DRC)
🔸 Emily Logiron Asekon (Kenya)
🔸 Georgia Bernbaum (USA) 
🔸 Herve Tsoala Kuete (Cameroon)
🔸 Jackson Bizimungu (Rwanda)
🔸 Okumu Dickson (Uganda)
🔸 Samuel Litunya (Kenya)


#volunteermonth #volunteer #heartivism #economicdevelopment #change #empoweringcommunities
The Green Earth Initiative (#Cameroon) is a project dedicated to educating and empowering students about climate change, sustainable development, and environmental challenges, that has received a seed grant from The Pollination Project in 2023. With a focus on fostering environmental protection and conservation, the initiative establishes Eco-clubs and Environment Clubs in schools, providing students with the tools to learn, engage, and take action in their communities.

Since receiving the grant from TPP, the Green Earth Initiative has expanded its reach, now encompassing 9 additional schools across two regions/cities, surpassing its initial goal of 5. 
This expansion was made possible by the overwhelming interest from school authorities and the growing number of volunteers and team members.

Through the support of TPP and other partners, the project's environmental education programs, awareness campaigns, and initiatives have impacted over 8000 students in two cities of Cameroon. Additionally, the initiative has planted over 600 trees, launched 5 Environment/Eco Clubs, and distributed over 150 adapted waste bins produced from recycled plastics, contributing to proper waste management practices.

The seed grant from The Pollination Project has been instrumental in catalyzing the growth and success of the Green Earth Initiative, enabling it to make a tangible difference in the lives of students and communities, while fostering a culture of environmental stewardship and sustainability. 

#environmentprotection #seedgrant #heartivism #environmentaleducation