This week, I was taught in-depth the meaning of mindfulness, how to do it, the effect it has on a person, and how it can be beneficial to improving sustainable mindsets in people. The main form of mindfulness is through meditation. By quieting ones mind and focusing on the moment and things going on in the surroundings only, one can do away with their inner reactions, and only notice thoughts and things that occur. In other words, they silence their reactions, and just focus on the actions themselves. By doing this, one is completely aware of their surroundings and thoughts—focusing on those things as they are, not just as they might perceive them. This allows them to have a more realistic and calm focus on life. It can also help one discover their inner values, leading them to act and live based on their true values of life—not just their easiest and first reaction to the world. Because of this, mindfulness leads people to see their inner values that will contribute to caring more about people and the earth, eventually leading them to live a sustainable lifestyle. Therefore, mindfulness is the answer to getting people to live sustainability, and ultimately saving our declining planet.
After learning all of this about mindfulness and meditation, I believe it to be a well-thought-out plan to lead people to sustainability. I think it to be a great idea, but I’m not sure how accurately the execution would play out. While the plan seems extremely feasible, the human mind and heart cannot always be tracked move for move to react and form exactly how we want it to. If it does work, it probably won’t work for everybody. I’m not saying that it will not work at all, I believe it to be a seemingly sound concept and plan. But sometimes no one can completely precisely predict how the human will form. In my opinion, however, mindfulness meditation is not as beneficial as meditation on the Word of God, which is different than this type of meditation. I do agree that mindfulness meditation is good in helping people be more aware and grow more sustainable mindsets. However, because I have gotten the sense from Marc Cohen, our Mindfulness and Sustainability reading, and our other such discussions and assignment on mindfulness, that mindfulness meditation is ultimately the best thing a person can do on this planet, I will have to disagree with that. In my opinion, the best thing a human can do on this planet is love, know, and pursue God as well as tell people about Him. Therefore, while I do agree with the claims that mindfulness meditation spurs sustainable lifestyles, I do not believe it to be the greatest thing a human can do in life to better themselves and those around them, as stated in our Mindfulness and Sustainability reading.
Marc Cohen’s talk pushed that in order to be happy, we must be well. And in order to be well, we must meditate, as well as change our lifestyle. According to Cohen, “the biggest killer on the planet is our lifestyle.” He touched on the topics of consumption and the overabundance we have, and how it is killing us and the earth. In order to be well, we must make others and earth around us well as possible. Therefore, it all ties together. But the most memorable point he made was that you must “vote with the money you spend.” By spending money on something, you are saying that you not only approve of the product, but that you approve of how it was made, where it came from, and what will happen to it when you are done with it. Therefore, we need to pay attention to what we spend our money on, because if we “vote” for resources that are organic and safely harvested as well as sustainable and reusable, it will help the earth one bit at a time as well as push others to do the same. I agree with this greatly—it is important to use your money on the best, especially when it is not only the best for you but for the earth and others around you. If we all “voted with our money,” I believe it would make quit a difference. It could also take money away from corporations whose products are unsustainable and harmful, ultimately weakening them.
This concept can definitely be applied to the field of design as well. My Investigate Report will be on how interior designers can design buildings in a way that they will use less energy, and that the materials used will be sustainable. Through this, I am learning that it is possible to design the interior of buildings in ways that use more energy than others. For example, there are certain types of carpets that keep a room warmer than other carpets, allowing for the room to not be heated as much, saving nonrenewable energy. One can also allow for more windows so that more light can be let in, and less artificial lights have to be put in, also using nonrenewable energy. Just by changing the slightest things, interior designers may have a huge impact on the amount of energy that is used in a building, and that fascinates me. Interior designers can help contribute to sustainability by saving energy in this way. They can also contribute to saving the earth by picking materials that were harvested sustainably and that will not harm the environment if possibly returned to the earth, but this is a much more sticky situation. Many times, such resources are unavailable to outside of a client’s budget. I will have to conduct more research on this to figure out possible solutions, but it seems to be a very difficult wicked problem.
Ultimately, the problem of sustainability stems from our culture, as shown in our Western Values reading. Our culture is obsessed with consuming, getting more, throwing out the old and buying the new. Consumerism is what is killing us as well as the earth. Consumerism started a long time ago, and gradually grew worse and worse as different aspects of the world, such as merchants (in the olden days), the government, the media, and other things contributed to our innate need to buy and throw away, buy and throw away. The monster we created for ourselves is large and powerful, and many question if it is reversible at all. If it is, mindfulness meditation is the answer to getting people to change their ways from the heart to treat the earth in a more sustainable way. While consumerism is embedded into our culture, our way of life, and even our desires, if we are going to attempt to turn it around or get rid of it, it needs to start within every person using mindfulness meditation to change their desires.
The TED talk with Leyla outlines truly how out-of-control our consumerism has become. Our refrigerators, for example, have continued to grow over time, allowing more room for all the food we buy that we never eat and end up wasting. The fact that we don’t eat 40% of the food we buy shows our over-grown appetite to consume. Electric tea kettles were another example that she used to show our over-grown consumerism issue. People will boil sometimes up to four cups more water than they need whenever they make tea—using so much extra energy each day that it could power every streetlight in England for a night. These example, as well as many others, were eye-opening statistics to show us how outrageous our consumerism has become. Hopefully, it instigated some healthy fear in its listeners to live more sustainability, because we are rapidly consuming the earth’s resources every day that we will never get back.
All of these concepts together—mindfulness meditation, consumerism, sustainable design, wellness, our culture, etc.—come down to the basic point that we will change if our hearts want to. Since a human is ultimately driven by its desires and its loves, not just its thoughts, we will only change if we have a love for life. Biophilia means to have a love for life, and in order for changes truly to be made we must all have biophilia for human life, animal life, and the life of the earth. Without biophilia, change is nowhere in sight. Thankfully many people do have biophilia within them, and that number will continue to grow. And hopefully we will become a part of that number that loves all life and strives to make it better for those experiencing it now and for those who get to experience it later.