Being Mindful

For the first two weeks of this course, i have enjoyed every second to be totally honest. From learning about the world and what our impact has, to learning how to properly meditate. The meditation has actually helped me many days. I find myself getting worked up or stressed over numerous things that i know are unimportant to my life. I have been trying to focus on my breathing and mentally picturing literally throwing the thought that has me upset in the garbage. It works! I have really been working on this. I have also noticed myself being more mindful of what is happening around me. I have tried using less water and reusing things like ziplocks and recycling small plastics. I have also considered buying a metal straw. These little things are what help us in the long run. if more people did things like reusing ziplocks that would lower plastic waste significantly. It is scary that if we continue to waste plastic and burn our garbage, we will end up like the western side of the world with smog everywhere and a ridiculous amount of pollution. I have been thinking that the time is now to stop waste, you have to stop somewhere so why not today? I consider myself a pretty mindful person, however i still find myself wasting little things and using things that pollute the planet. Starting with the little things, it will make such a big difference. i worry about my future decedents and children. It makes me scared to have kids one day if we are being honest here. It worries me that the world is at such a risk i don’t want them to get hurt, if one day i do have kids. As people, it is hard to understand that what we are doing everyday may be the cause of global warming and hurting the environment. Educating ourselves and our peers is one of the best things we can do.

This class has opened my eyes in many ways. I cant wait to see what the last two weeks will teach me and make me think about what my footprint in the world looks like. I hope i continue to grow and learn in this course and that what i leave with this semester could change my future opinions and choices forever!

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Mindful Meditation and Paradigm

I really enjoyed the second week of class. It was adventurous and I learned a lot. In class we explored mindful meditation and that was my first time ever practicing meditation. I was unsure of what the process was going to entail, and after doing the first mediation I thought it was a little strange. After the second and third meditation I got very relaxed and into my thoughts. I am the type of person who does not share feelings with anyone, so for me to sit in silence and make myself think about how I really feel was relieving but also difficult. My favorite meditation that we practiced was the loving-kindness mediation. I enjoyed this practice more than any other because I liked being coached through the entire ten minutes. Being coached through was very beneficial to me because I never had the time to get stuck on one thought or be distracted. I am very excited that we get to mediate at the beginning of each class. I think this allows students to relax and get into the right mind set before starting a two-hour class. I realize how important meditating is in a sustainability aspect because if people can stop and take time to understand what is going on around them they will be more aware and want to help make earth a better place.

I had a family member pass away last Wednesday so I had to leave town for the funeral on Thursday night, so I did not get to participate in the class discussion on the reading about paradigms. However, I did read the article and I learned a lot from it. I had never heard of the word before, but after reading, I had a whole new perspective. I learned about viewpoints and beliefs and how not every individual is going to feel the same way about something. I am disappointed that I missed this discussion because I was anxious to hear people’s opinions after reading two different sides of a story. I was ready to engage in conversation and hear other student’s viewpoints. I am hoping that we get another opportunity to have a split discussion

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Paradigms in Today’s Society

Although we have only attended two weeks of this course, I feel as though it has taught me so much. I enjoy the mindful meditations as I have meditated in the past. Meditating makes me feel self-aware and in-tune with my surroundings. Recently though, this has been hard for me because of stress. With finals coming up along with other life events, it has been a struggle to be mindful and live every day to the fullest. I feel as though I was meant to take this class right now because it is very easy to get caught up and self-absorbed in our society.

I did not know that a paradigm was one’s perspective of the world before we learned it in class. I enjoy learning about psychology and thought it was interesting that everyone has a personal paradigm and a “group” paradigm. Living in America, especially in our society, we were raised in the consumer culture. This is the continuous cycle of buying products. After reflecting on this topic upon learning about it in class, I realized that I have fallen victim to the consumer culture. Americans’ paradigm is to use, dispose, and repeat. I notice how much paper my professors hand out in class, and how many students will not recycle them. I think about how much water I use when I shower. I notice how many people use plastic bags at the grocery store. Thinking about how one person could make so much of an impact on the system is really inspiring to think about the impact everyone could have if they were mindful. Change starts with one, and although it will be impossible to force everyone to be mindful and be aware of their paradigm, it doesn’t hurt to try.

I think it was wise of Dr. Armstrong to separate the class into “yes” and “no” groups. This way, we will all learn to respect opposing views and learn something new from it. There are always two sides to an argument, and no clear definition of who is right and who is wrong. In the article Taking Sides of Western Values, it discusses both views on sustainability. By keeping the idea of being mindful at our attention, we all can learn to better understand and reflect on everyone’s paradigms.

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Paradigms and Sustainability

In week 2 we discussed paradigms, which are the beliefs, values, and assumptions we have about the world and ourselves. These paradigms correlate with wicked problems. However, paradigms aren’t directly seen, and the issues only scratch the surface from the deep issue.

In class we discussed western values, ethic, and paradigms; asking the question if they are compatible to sustainability issues. I read the “no” argument for this discussion and agree with the article. As humans, we live in a world where consumer culture is seen as a social norm. Since these patterns of consumption are social and cultural norms, no one sees the problem of being able to sustain the activities. Things we do every day like driving or using air conditioning are seen normal but are not innate manifestations. The only way that we will be able to solve the wicked problems we have now will be to change our dominant cultural patterns. Though this is not an easy task, a pattern that would need improvement is over consumption. This will be a hardest problem to fix because of how corporations make money off daily activities most of the population does. Corporations have an influence and advantage in our consumer culture by using advertisement to get people to buy things that seem like necessary items. Given that 98 percent of the population has a television in their house hold, they make billions of dollars showing ads to the public. The government also has a substantial influence on consumer consumption. For example, selling oil at low cost causes a butterfly effect in our economy, but also increases consumption. Since the price for gas isn’t unaffordable more people use it. The oil industry is not required to incorporate environmental and social concerns so, why pay attention to sustainability? A lot of the money that the government has is donated from businesses they don’t make policies to fix our unsustainable society. The best way to solve this problem is to teach the new generations about sustainability and apply these practices in every day life.

Reading this article not only increased my knowledge on the problems of consumer culture but intrigued me to learn more. Seeing how much it impacts the Earth, our society needs to change our cultural and social norms. Knowing all the wicked problems we have does cause concerns for our future. Though the process will be slow, with each generation more sustainable practice should be implemented and encouraged.

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No Future to a Sustainable One

What if I were to tell you that starting tomorrow we all had to have the same beliefs, values and assumptions? Would it make you feel defeated? Angry? Would you even care? I imagine our world would be very bland in the sense that no one would be unique and we would be living in a cookie cutter world. Thankfully we are allowed to believe what we want, assume what we want and have our own values, which is the definition of a paradigm. Having our own paradigm makes us who we are. Unfortunately, just like a lot of other things in this world, a personal paradigm also has a negative side. With everyone having their own views and thoughts comes conflict and disagreements. Looking back now, I realize this is what has caused so many fights with my friends. We have different views on things, but we are all entitled to our own opinions and beliefs. I think this is one of the reasons why wicked problems are exactly that: wicked problems. The roots of wicked problems are differences, conflict and sometimes even violence. People have their own paradigms, so while some people may agree on a solution, other people disagree and think that the solution is wrong.

This past week in class has really opened my eyes and made me realize that I need to listen to both sides of things before I draw my conclusion on the topic being discussed. Usually I am so set in my beliefs and views on things that when I hear something that is the opposite of what I think, I immediately ignore, disagree and try to block out what the other person is saying. After discussing the Taking Sides of Western Values article and if they are compatible with sustainability or not, it really showed me that both views of the topic, or both paradigms, have good points to think about. After listening to people talk from both the “yes” and “no” teams of the discussion, I even agree with some of the things the “yes” team was saying, even though I was on the “no” team.  I’ve realized that just because I have felt a certain way about a topic, it does not actually mean that what I thought is necessarily right. How much of my belief was based on what I was told by other people like me (same ethnicity, same socio-economic background, etc.)? Was it because that is the opinion my parents have, so I just adopted their opinion as my own? How much was based on my own observations? The list could go on.

If people in the world would take a moment to really listen to both sides of an issue before making up their minds on what they believe is right or not, I think we could create solutions for many problems our world has, including ways of making our world more sustainable. How many problems could have been avoided in the past if those involved had really taken them time to consider all viewpoints?

After class this week, I reflected and realized how much I care about materialistic things in my life and of how I have become so unmindful of the world happening around me.  It made me realize that our world is becoming more and more unstable with each unsustainable thing we do. This class has made me really think about the future and how my actions are contributing to the unsustainable ways. It made me wonder why I do this. The answer is what everyone seems to think, “I need the best and newest thing for me to be the best version of myself.”  This idea of the want and need for individualism and consumerism is seen throughout the world. In the article Are Western Values, Ethics and Dominant Paradigms Compatible with Sustainability, it talks about how consumerism and individualism may lead to consequences like pollution and the depletion of natural resources, and I could not agree more. When people only care about the next big item that is coming out in the market, they do not think about how that is going to affect the environment in an unsustainable way. The article also talks about how it will take us a long time to fix our mistakes but poses the question, “Can we really fix our mistakes?”.  I do not think people are willing to give up their nice things and businesses, to stop inventing new items and to lose money so that our world will become sustainable. I think the world, including me, is so caught up in materialistic things that it is all we care about. We don’t stop to think that the things we purchase may have a negative impact on sustainability. I know I do not ever think about where an item I purchase will end up once I am done with it. I also feel that we are so focused on how to improve things that do not even need to be improved necessarily, that we will never be able to be satisfied with what we have.

One way that I think we could fix problems due to disagreements from everyone’s personal paradigms and the unsustainability of our future is by being mindful. Mindfulness is being aware of one’s personal thoughts and feelings, focusing on the present and to focus on one’s mental health. In the article Mindfulness and Sustainability, it talks about how our well-being correlates with sustainable behavior and that being mindful can improve relationships. By being mindful, we can take care of our personal problems through meditation and improve relationships with others through loving-kindness meditation. This could start a domino effect and lead to sustainability and creating solutions to wicked problems. If we focus on the things that really need to be fixed, like climate change, pollution, population growth and all the other wicked problems we are encountering, I believe we can find solutions. This will involve being mindful, really listening to other people’s paradigms and ideas before setting our minds on what we believe, and focusing on the real problems of the world before we try and improve unneeded or less important things. If we follow all of these things, I believe we could go from having no future to have the most sustainable one we can imagine.

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Taking the Leap into Sustainability

We have only been together for two weeks now, but I feel myself becoming more aware of the sustainability issues, we the human race, encounter on an everyday basis. I have always been intrigued by the thought of sustainability, but I never really took the necessary leap to fully submerge myself. This class, however, is just what I needed to give me that little ounce of push to get me over the edge.

There were two main topics we discussed in class last week and I can easily say, with great certainty, that they’ve already modified my perception of the world we live in. The first topic I want to discuss is mindful meditation. I’ve dabbled in meditation before, but I have never heard of mindful meditation, until last week. Mindful meditation involves a “systematic retraining of awareness and non-reactivity, leading to the diffusion from whatever is experienced, and allowing the individual to more consciously choose these thoughts, emotions, and sensations they identify with, rather than habitually reacting to them”. This topic on meditation really spoke to me because I find myself thinking about the future more often than I should and not focusing on the here and now. Habitually going through the motions and not realizing what I am doing. The purpose of this topic was to enlighten us to be more aware of our surroundings and to be more mindful when it comes to everyday functions such as throwing away plastic utensils in the trash and not the recycling bin. These small changes in the way we go about our day add up, which might be how we save our planet if everyone hops onboard the mindfulness train.

I found the second topic we discussed in class to be very interesting. I never really examined how globalization could have a devastating effect on our planet or the fact that our western values, ethics, and dominant paradigms could play a huge part in the environmental impact/concern we see today. The biggest question we faced this week was, “Are western values, ethics, and dominant paradigms compatible with sustainability?”. Even though I was delegated to the “Yes” group, I find myself on the fence with this subject. First and foremost, let’s define what a dominant social paradigm is. A dominant social paradigm is a cluster of beliefs, values, and ideals that influence our thinking about society, government, and individual prosperity. Through reading this article, it was hard for me to determine what actually causes environmental impact because both arguments made some really good points. There is no doubt in my mind that globalization does provide a solution to some of the global issues countries are facing today, but how far can we go before we start seeing diminishing returns on our environment? I wish I knew that answer, but in my view, we might’ve already gone too far. With big corporations setting up shop in foreign countries and depleting their natural resources, with little to no regard to the environment or the people, it might be time to start establishing new foreign institutional changes. Globalization is key to economic growth, but it certainly comes at a cost. A cost we might not know until it’s too late.

On the contrary, I firmly believe that our western ideologies play a significant part in contributing to environmental impact. Our consumerism habits have gotten widely out of control. In the article, it was mentioned that if everyone lived like Americans, the earth could only sustain 1.4 billion people. That is alarming considering the fact that the earth’s population at the time of this article was 5.7 billion. We as Americans really need to sit down and think about what is truly important, our material products or happiness on earth for future generations. At this rate of consumption and mismanagement of waste, there might not be a future generation.

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relax and take note

The lesson last week about mindfulness made me realize a lot of things about myself and the human population as a whole. It is very easy to get preoccupied in 1000 little things going on in life that ultimately mean nothing at the end of the day. I enjoyed the meditation, but it was hard for me. I am someone who worries constantly. I always have too much on my mind, and I have to stop and remind myself to not worry. I say “Alexa, this problem does not matter. It will not matter in 5 years and it will probably not matter next week. There are more important things to think about.” Completely releasing all my thoughts and making my mind blank was quite the challenge for me. However, when I managed to do it for a few brief moments, it was a relaxing and enjoyable experience for me. Many people have told me before that I should practice meditation to sooth my mind. It could do a whole lot of good if everyone in the world was more actively aware. Sometimes while walking on campus I leave my thoughts for a moment and take the time to enjoy the earth around me. I have never regretted those moments and often find much fulfillment from it.

Since this class started I have become more aware of how my actions might affect the bigger picture. I turn off every light when I leave a room. I turn off the water when I brush my teeth. These are things I knew of before, but was almost too lazy to take the initiative, even though they’re so easy.

While speaking about the American paradigm in class, I couldn’t help but feel like most of the American mindset seems much skewed. It seems like our perception of the rest of the world and how it functions is seen through a narrow view. I don’t believe that capitalism is the answer for everything.  I believe it does more harm than good. Production just leads to more pollution and consumption of resources. To me, it seems the US telling all other countries how to solve global warming and pollution is pretty hypocritical. Not every country can achieve the level of wealth to make everything green. Additionally, many countries that do have that wealth simply choose not to spend their money on that. Its more about attitude and caring than anything else.

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