As a student that is jammed packed to the brink, the thought of mediation and time for reflection is alluring. This past week I went to a conference called Rooted where I experienced nature meditation and spent time reflecting on the Lord and myself. Most of the time at the conference we were outside and at one point we hiked up an extremely steep mountain trail to the top of a cliff with a stunning view of mountains and a river. I was able to meditate, journal, and sketch my surroundings. In the excerpt from Mindfulness and sustainability, mindfulness is defined as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally”. When I am in the midst of nature, I find myself able to concentrate and relax my mind easier than if I was in a classroom building. In a classroom, the combination of wall color, minimal window space, and hard wooden chair around the space is less appealing than soaking in natural sunlight. The classroom setting is filled with distractions such as the people in the room, sounds of typing, and cells phone interactions. While in nature, what could be seen as distractions such as animals or gusts of wind for me is actually inspirational and peaceful to look at. In Marc Cohen’s TED talk, Cohen states “It’s hard to be happy unless you are well and it is hard to be well unless the environment as well and the people around me are well”. I believe mindfulness goes hand in hand with wellness. By being mindful of your surroundings you are able to recognize how you are feeling and areas in your life that cause stress. When you surround yourself around people who are positive and push you to grow into a better person than most commonly you will feel stable and well. Recently, in Tulsa, my hometown, a new park called the Gathering Place was built. The Gathering Place will serve as a cornerstone for Tulsa’s community while improving social, economic and environmental sustainability in Tulsa. This park also serves a way to inspire imagination. The Gathering Place will push the community to spend more time outside, interact with other residents around the city, and produce more physical activity. The park serves as an example of stimulating wellness and sustainability in the heart of a city. I am excited to see how this park positively impacts the community in Tulsa.
Continuing with mindfulness, I believe people need to realize that Western Culture values are causing negative effects on sustainability. During the discussion in class debating between yes or no if western values, ethics, and dominant paradigms are compatible with sustainability, I started to realize how unmindful our culture is of how much waste we produce and how many natural resources we over-use every day. Specifically, America wastes tons of water and food every day, and the article stated that if everyone in the world lived like people in America then more than half the population of the world could not live. Western culture idolizes the ideals of a fast-paced, innovative, and product consuming the world. Although as discussed in class how changing fashion trends and new inventions benefit the economic and social stagnation, I believe more laws and restrictions need to be put in place on how many resources can be extruded for large manufacturers. To push our culture toward sustainability, products need to be made from new materials that do not harm the life cycle. Relating to the topic of sustainability, I found the new form of design called biophilic a wonderful way to maximize the understanding of how nature helps people’s health.
Furthermore, after watching the film, 11th Hour, I felt convicted about the wicked problem of deforestation. Once a forest is chopped down, then most likely the area will turn into a grass field or a desert. I do not want to imagine a world without trees because I deeply appreciate nature. Deforestation also deals with a major issue that was highlighted in the 11th Hour about how nature is seen just as property. After doing the ‘Wildest Thing’ activity, I started to think of new ways to combat problems such as deforestation and plastic bag waste. With plastic bags, I thought a new invention could be created where bags made of strong fibrous plants like kale could replace plastic. For deforestation, people could replant trees and protect land till the area is securely made back into the original ecosystem. On a smaller scale, this class has allowed me to critically and creatively think of solutions for wicked problems.