Growing up in South Texas definitely has its benefits, like being able to look far off into the horizon without a high-rise building obstructing the canvas of the landscape. Or like taking a drive down a dirt road to find tranquility in the chaos of the undisturbed wilderness of mesquite trees, wildflowers and cactus. Getting lost in a field of orange groves or watermelon fields with friends was always a good idea. We always had nature’s original fast food right around the corner. A vegan’s dream!
I am also sure that when I mentioned Texas, other ideas came to mind. Like cowboys, and leather boots, hunting or fishing, Friday night lights and rodeos. Yes, at one point, I was a vaquero (that’s “cowboy” in Spanish). I raised pigs, horses and cattle. I wore the leather boots the belts to match. Birds and wildlife were at my mercy, if I was on that sort of mission. I used to volunteer at the local state fair knowing that all the animals on the grounds were on their last days of existence. Am I proud? Not at all.
Am I grateful? With every living cell, with each breath, every day and moment of my being, I certainly am.
From one extreme end of the spectrum to the other, I am now and forever will be grateful for the truth and reality of the dualistic universe we live in. Now you might be wondering, how did I get here? What did I go through to be able to share my story on a website that promotes peace?
To make a long story short, in a span one week, life and death were presented to me in the series of what I now see as fortunate events. The first was a near death experience. I fell asleep on the wheel, was ejected out of my truck and walked away from the scene with no broken bones or major wounds to my body. It literally felt like someone removed me from the seat of the vehicle and placed me on the other side of the fence, so I could get up nice and easy. The next morning, I still thought I had the authority over life and death, and had the audacity to end an animal’s life and then sell the meat to a coworker at the time. A few days later, I witnessed the passing of one of my dearest family members. “What am I doing here? Why am I still alive? What did I just see?” I began to wonder.
A few months later, I was the owner of the truck of my dreams, which gave me the power to take road trips to the bigger cities of Texas every other weekend. I was a project engineer working for a corporate entity and was mindlessly living a life that society had chosen for me. Deep down, I knew I studied environmental engineering for a higher purpose rather than working in a 9-to-5 job. I always cared for my environment and for the ancient land we all walk on. I was always connected to animals and had a gut feeling that what I did with them was because I was taught that it was macho and manly to do such things. I always seemed find ways to stand out instead of fitting in with the crowd. There was an intuitive sensation burning deep inside my core, calling me out until it finally hit me–or should I say, crash landed.
Several months passed by and I was still asking myself, “Why am I still alive? How was I so blind to take that animal’s life right after my life was almost taken from me? Is there anybody else that feels like eating dead energy and flesh does not promote liveliness?” Intuitively, I began to see signs of veganism all over social media. Friends or followers I had never met before were also making the change. The universe was telepathically communicating the best next step for my life.
One evening I went out to dinner with my best friend, father and mentor. We went out to a high-end restaurant, ordered a large steak to share between us, and for the side was a giant bowl of kale salad. That was the night the kale won! My taste buds like to think it was the dressing that was poured over the mountain of greens, but now I know it was my the voice of my intuition calling out for a major shift of consciousness for the highest good of all concerned. From one day to the next, I eliminated all animal products from my diet.
I had to accept what the Universe was presenting to me and love myself that much more in order to accept the lifestyle I was about to take on. I had no clue or even the slightest idea, knowledge or insight on what I was about to go through. Dismissing the invitations to partake in the traditional way of life, the cultural norms, the family BBQs and saying no arroz con pollo was quite a shock to everyone who thought they knew me. l fell into the role of being the black sheep of the family and again refusing the idea of blending in with the crowd.
Unaware of any spirituality talk or yoga, I took the first step of the Yogic moral and ethical principle of ahimsa. Ahimsa means truly embodying the word compassion towards all sentient beings. It is profound admiration and respect for life in any form; plants, insects, animals, humans. It is vowing to do no harm through speech, action and thinking towards. Fast forward a couple of months, I quit my engineering job and began sharing the importance of green living and organic gardening. Close friends and I built gardens for local communities and Boys & Girls clubs. Through this time, I began uncovering the truths about the current status of our planet’s environment and the main drivers of environmental degradation which my alma mater seemed to hide. I soon found myself on a trek in China and Vietnam where I dove deep into the heart of yoga. Two years later, I am back in the heart of Texas sharing the practice of yoga.
Sharing my story and inspiring others who may be stuck or lost on the path towards their own form liberation and healthy lifestyle is certainly a work of art. With the ancient science of yoga, I get to help others expand their awareness of their own body and mind to make conscious choices in their modality of living. Unifying the breath to mind and body is one of many ways to understand what our highest calling and role on this planet entail. Through my own practice, I find the insights for creating content, creating my audience and attracting the life that my heart desires while positively impacting everyone along the way.
Peeling back the layers and shedding away the cultural imprints and programs of society like the rattlesnakes of south Texas, I humbly stand forth to serve and to assist humanity by sharing the sacred practice of yoga. Going vegan was the first step I unknowingly took on the path of yoga. I lovingly accept every experience and person that shows up on my journey and I thank you for being a part of it.
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Photos: Isaac Prado