Mind Your Mindfulness

Being a sustainable human being is about more than physically separating your plastic goods from your garbage and setting it on the curb every week. It begins inside your thoughts and mind. In the fast-paced world in which we live, it can be hard to take a step back and direct our attention to concepts like mindfulness and meditation. Perhaps that is what has put us in the position the world is in today, with our pollution and waste crises at an all-time high. For many, the issue lies in the truthfulness of being mindful. From the article by Ericson, I learned that mindfulness very much includes acknowledging the negative as well as the positive. We must make ourselves aware of our impact on the world, and the severity of our carelessness. At the current time, a planet without climate change or pollution, or even one where an urgent change of pace could affect the trajectory, is unrealistic. This is the nature of wicked problems. Mindfulness is crucial so that individuals are forced to take a look at themselves and the way they affect their environment through their lifestyle choices.

Meditation is a powerful tool to help us achieve mindfulness. In class, we practiced a few different types of meditation, including one method in which we ate chocolate and tried to focus on just that: putting the chocolate in our mouths, tasting it, feeling it, and letting our mind wander about just the candy we were consuming. It seemed silly at first. I was skeptical about the idea, but once I began to taste the chocolate and feel its weight, I closed my eyes and it really became the only thing I was thinking about. It was an interesting exercise, and I think it’s an important thing to reach that headspace of being mindful about one thing in particular, rather than letting our thoughts run wild in our heads.

Mark Cohen’s TEDTalk concerning mindfulness was also a good reminder about how our psyche truly does affect our physical being. He mentioned how there are things in our life he categorizes as “blissors” and “stressors”. Respectively, these are things in our life that either bring us bliss or stress. Of course, it’s impossible to live with only one or the other, but finding a healthy balance and a means to process the two can be a great way to seek a mindful self-narrative. Navigating these factors helps us take control of our own outlook and thoughts about the world, AKA our mindfulness in general. Additionally, in the documentary, The 11th Hour, these wicked problems were expounded on in a very fear-inducing manner. The film gave good insight and warnings regarding the wicked problems our world is facing in the present day, but I didn’t necessarily like the way the filmmakers used fear tactics to get their point across. I think a much more effective way of spreading these concepts is through informing the public and perhaps tugging on their emotions in a more sensitive and heart-wrenching fashion. Either way, acknowledging these issues is the key point of the film, and it’s important for us to make ourselves aware of our impact on those issues, and how we can alleviate our personal use or waste in order to reduce our contribution to the problem as a whole.
Overall, being conscious of our lifestyle choices can be a useful tool to help us discern our level of consumption. The more aware we are of our waste, the more likely we are to want to make a change to reduce it.

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