As the end of the semester approaches, I have found myself becoming increasingly stressed out as I have a lot on my plate. My professors are assigning all of their projects at the same time and finals are nearing. This past week was rough for me. I was quite overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety, unhappiness, and stress to name a few. Finally, on Thursday night, I remembered that we had been discussing meditation in class and how meditation can help lead to more mindful thinking, so I decided to try one of the Tara Brach guided meditations. I tried a 10-minute mediation that is supposed to help you become more aware of your body. Meditation is still new and kind of awkward for me, but I’ll get the hang of it. In one of our readings about mindfulness and sustainability, it was mentioned that meditation can lead to a mindful mindset, and mindfulness can then lead to a sustainable lifestyle. I think that there is some truth to this because when you are meditating, you are opening yourself up to a receptive and vulnerable state that allows you to connect with the environment around you.
Mindfulness is something that I’ve unfortunately had a hard time finding in other people. I hate to say that but I know a lot of selfish people. For a period in my life, I tried a vegan diet and oddly enough, many of the people around me were very unsupportive and discouraging. They said that just one person refusing to eat animal products isn’t going to change the food industry and other things that made me leave the conversation feeling attacked for doing something that is beneficial for the environment. I initially chose that diet for health reasons after I noticed my body wasn’t adjusting well to the things that I was eating, then as I started doing research, I watched documentaries on the food industry that I found incredibly alarming, disgusting, and sad. Currently, I am maintaining an off and on vegetarian diet because the stressors in my life are a bit straining in conjunction with my eating habits but the truth about animal production in the food industry is something that is always in the back of my mind. And I choose to eat consciously (if I’m able to) because of that.
Before I noticed that activity 2 had to be centered around our major, I wanted to focus on the food industry as my wicked problem. After watching Food, Inc. on Netflix, it is something that I feel strongly about. It is a huge issue that I think is getting out of control and many people don’t even realize where their food is coming from. Food plays such a large role in our lives which is why I don’t see the food industry being stopped or changed any time soon. After realizing that I couldn’t focus on this for my wicked problem in activity 2, I decided to go with energy consumption because it is something I find myself getting onto my boyfriend and roommates about often. They love to keep the lights and tv’s on in multiple parts of the apartment while I go as far as unplugging everything in my room when it’s not in use. Not only is it expensive but it is also damaging to our environment because of the burning and extraction of fossil fuels to power electricity. Leyla’s TED Talk touched on energy consumption when she mentioned the tea kettle situation. In the U.K., 97% of households own an electric tea kettle so obviously, a lot of energy is being used. She explains that the issue isn’t entirely in the design of the kettle but in the amount of water that is being heated and unused which is something I never really thought of. Being conscious of using only what you need can make a big difference.
In Marc Cohen’s video, the “axis of bliss” stood out to me the most. The axis of bliss is the constant in where illness and wellness meet in an individual. It is from this point where one can better themselves with complimentary medicine such as exercise routines, therapy and diets to move up the axis from average health to enhanced health. I thought it was really interesting how he described western medicine as a means to get people from illness to normality but that’s it. If we focused on helping others reach their enhanced health, that would help all of us feel an increase in wellness because those around us are well. This ties into the concept of biophilia, an affinity for life, because it focuses on the environment around you. When people are able to connect with nature, it can help to reduce stress and clear the mind. In our wester reading, I was in the “yes” group. The reading was meant to explain the correlation between income and sustainability. I found it interesting how those with a higher income consume more up to a certain point, yet they’re also more willing to live a sustainable lifestyle. I believe this is because being strapped for money can be stressful and it’s already difficult to afford the necessities. Often times, the sustainable things are more expensive and the things that are bad for the environment are more accessible and affordable. I think that a good step in changing things would be to change the accessibility of the things that are hurting our environment. We need to make sustainable items the norm.