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Column: Mindfulness, service and wildlife

Wildwoods is a Duluth wild animal rescue and rehabilitation organization. Volunteers go there for many reasons, but one benefit of working with rescued animals at Wildwoods is the opportunity to experience our own lives more fully. This is part o...

Wildwoods
This photo of raccoons was taken at Wildwoods. A volunteer built a platform for the raccoons. Although they almost look as if they are posing for the camera, the photographer said the animals were sleeping on the platform and looked at the camera when she walked in. “You couldn’t pose raccoons if you tried.” (Photo by Trudy Vrieze)

Wildwoods is a Duluth wild animal rescue and rehabilitation organization. Volunteers go there for many reasons, but one benefit of working with rescued animals at Wildwoods is the opportunity to experience our own lives more fully. This is part of what some call “mindfulness,” which can be defined as an attentive, nonjudgmental, present-centered awareness. Here, the author, Kurt Allen, describes his own experience. (Ed.)

Kurt Alllen

For the Budgeteer News

We all reach a crossroads at some time in our lives. That is what happened to me. I re-evaluated what it is that brings by length, width, and height those deeper treasures that unconditional love and service provide.

Beyond any highly relevant comments about working with Wildwoods, I wish to present, in a simple way, one man’s experience of walking with and helping in the service of our fellow travelers. This is what volunteering at Wildwoods has given to me.
In a broad sense, most of us seek connection on a deep level with those around us.
I have concluded that this desire for connection includes the various animals that we live among.
Although it seems that the animals live among us, we must remember that animals came first. We live among them, rather than them among us. This is a critical point.
Being mindful seems to have been and still is a prerequisite to relating to and living among the animals which are in their natural habitat. We can recall, recognize, and know the depth of this relationship and greatly benefit from the experience.
Now, in this fast-paced world, we have been led to believe that mindfulness is a practice left to wise men, sages and those who are spiritually inclined.
In reality, we all can access mindfulness and presence. Once achieved, we begin to feel the kinship we have with all living creatures.
There are many ways to be involved in appreciating wildlife while helping them at the same time.
A great start is to do what many of us already do: i.e., see the animals and birds in our own part of the world, bring our children on walks to observe the many non- human residents in our cities and forests, and teach ourselves and others how interdependent we all actually are.
There is a relationship between how happy people are and to what degree they participate in natural habitats with the creatures of the forests, fields, and neighborhoods.
There are many things the reader can do to have a better and more fulfilling relationship with the creatures of the wild. For example, join a wildlife organization or support an animal welfare organization such as Wildwoods. There are many opportunities in the Duluth area.
Other ways to foster that relationship to wildlife include a decision to take notice and take action, educate yourself and look, take advantage of local resources such as Hartley Nature Center, Hawk Ridge Observatory, the Great Lakes Aquarium, or in some way support a connection between wildlife and your children.
Once done, you cannot help but be affected by this active participation.
How do I personally practice mindfulness in order to see the world more clearly? I begin by quieting the mind.
Each time I volunteer at Wildwoods to assist with whatever species, I find that mindfulness not only calms the animal and relays a sense of safety to them, but at the same time provides a more enriching experience for me.
I continue to learn new skills each time I attend to the needs of another. Not only do I learn from others who contribute their time to this important cause, but it is from the animals that I learn the most.
Come and join us. There is room for enrichment and fulfillment at Wildwoods. And if you choose to come, I believe that the experience will be as fulfilling to you, as it has been to me.

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For information on wildlife, including volunteer opportunities, visit Wildwoods at www.wildwoodsrehab.org or call (218) 491-3604.

Kurt Allen is a resident of Duluth and volunteers for Wildwoods as well as for Animal Allies. He is passionate about humane treatment for all domestic and wild animals.

Kurt Alllen
Kurt Alllen

Related Topics: ENVIRONMENT
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