We are living through testing times and many of us are going to have to dig deep and find that human resilience to get us through weeks and possibly months of isolation and physical distancing. So, as well as working from home, getting some indoor exercise and binge watching Netflix, I am thinking this forced "slowing down" of our lives is the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness.
I recently participated in a meditation course and the first topic was Mindfulness. My yoga teaching background meant I had used mindfulness as a tool in meditation but I had never really taken it outside the yoga class and into my daily life. The applications and benefits of Mindfulness are limitless for your well-being, physical and mental health. And it can be applied to increase our awareness of everything we do, including being mindful of how our actions impact our environment.
What's Mindfulness? It's being fully present in each moment. Taking the time to notice things and being more aware. It's what we are not doing when we rush around in our busy lives being distracted by worries and not focusing on the task at hand. I took the Meditation teacher's advice and applied this "wholeheartedness" to an everyday activity - eating. Practicing mindful eating is taking your first bite and thinking about the taste, the texture and flavour of the food. Chewing slowly and savoring every bite. As opposed to scoffing down your food, whilst tapping away with your laptop balanced on your knee.
Connecting with your senses is a good way to experience mindfulness – taste, touch, smell, sound and sight are your gateway to experiencing the present moment. Whether it's pausing to notice the aroma of the coffee before you drink it; noticing the softness of your dog's fur when you tickle them under the chin; or truly listening in conversations instead of getting lost in your own thoughts.
Mindfulness can be used by all of us as a tool in our personal quest to repair climate damage. If we all lived our lives more mindfully of our environment, with more care for our fellow human beings, future generations and wildlife, then every moment would be so much more meaningful. And perhaps if we had been more mindful of our choices in the last two generations our world wouldn't be in the environmental pickle we are now facing.
If we stop rushing around, thinking only of ourselves, and start taking the time to think about each of our actions and how each action has an effect on the world we live in; we have the opportunity to make a positive difference. For example, being mindful of which bank you choose. Does this bank I am putting my savings into line up with my values, do they invest in clean money or do they invest in fossil fuels? It's your choice. Being mindful of what mode of transport you will choose for your commute to work. Will you drive yourself or will you choose public transport, carpooling or share rides that emit less emissions?
Practicing mindfulness when you are gardening is considering what plants will attract bees, what plants will be drought resistant and need less water. It's thinking before you turn the tap on, covering your new plants with mulch to seal in the moisture or installing a rainwater tank for garden use.
Mindful shopping is bringing your own bags and produce bags, not leaving them in the car! Refusing plastic wrapped food, considering the way an item is packaged before putting it in your trolley. Putting things back on the shelf after you consider and buy elsewhere. Being a mindful consumer is buying less, buying second hand and repairing before throwing out. Considering the whole supply chain of your manufactured goods and choosing the brand that does so ethically and sustainably. Living mindfully could be an invaluable tool in helping you to reduce your carbon footprint.
Try practicing mindfulness at least once a day and see how much more you can get out of every minute of your life. If you are feeling overwhelmed at the moment, it's totally understandable, a Yoga Nidra (a mindfulness meditation) practice like this one could help you relax.
By Allison Licence
Allison Licence is a Sydney-based freelance writer and 1 Million Women volunteer who is passionate about the environment and finding ways to live more sustainably.