Blog #2: Well-being, Mindfulness, & Sustainability

Unlike my expectations, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the “Mindfulness & Sustainability” article and found its content not only interesting, but very valuable. It is intriguing to me that subjective well-being, empathy, and compassion can be associated with more sustainable behaviors, according to the article. I never considered the fact that there could be a connection between mindfulness and sustainability before this course, and this article presented the reasons why in a way that was easy to comprehend and possibly apply to your own daily life. You don’t really think about it on a daily basis, but the article exposed how we are distracted by material things almost every waking minute of our day that causes a feeling of the “hedonic treadmill”. Yet, you can always choose what you put your focus on, and I believe that having healthy relationships with family and friends and being intact with your own awareness and mindfulness sets you up for an overall more positive, sustainable life.  I also liked reading about loving-kindness meditation, and about how positive its effects are if you view your family, friends, coworkers, and enemies all in the same positive light with an optimistic attitude you are more likely to experience a self-improved wellbeing.

At first, I did not know what to expect for our class meditation but was very pleased with the results. Sitting outside and admiring the weather and my surroundings relieved the majority of my stress and heightened my sense of mindfulness. This is important because it allowed me to be more aware of my surroundings and how the smallest acts effect those around me, as well as the environment. I felt as though I had control over my own well-being and felt more in tune with my surroundings, a very important part of being mindful. I also was able to concentrate more throughout the day on homework and other activities. It was surprising to me because I didn’t realize such a small amount of time spent in mindful meditation could improve my mood and efficiency for the rest of my day. This is much like what Marc Cohen discussed in the TED talk we watched in class on the idea of namaste, recognizing that you are one with the universe. I like how he discussed the ideas of leading a balanced life, designing wellness into life, connecting with nature, and simply going with the flow, and how achievable mindfulness really is if you are aware of how to achieve these things on a daily basis. I personally enjoy the concept of designing wellness into life, being an interior designer, and have plans on implementing that idea in my career practice.  I strive to be at a point where I can easily follow my bliss and see how everything in life is interconnected and understand the true meaning behind as above so below, as mentioned by Marc Cohen.

Watching the 11th hour was actually quite frightening because it really exposes how ‘at risk’ our environment is due to our actions. I learned a lot from this documentary on how industries are increasing global warming at alarming rates and that our government is practically refusing to accept that global warming exists. Although, it did help me to understand in greater detail how our actions are only worsening the ‘wicked problems’ we face every day. It is interesting to me that the media doesn’t always broadcast some of the significant effects of global warming going on around the world, such as natural disasters. It is almost like they want to keep us oblivious to the fact that we are damaging our environment by consumption so that we will continue to consume at the same, staggering rate. One thing that really stood out to me in the video was the issue of social injustice. We are using low-income areas of color as our waste and chemical dumping grounds, and it’s absolutely wrong. They are already struggling to put food on the table and we are worsening their living conditions even further by poisoning their air, soil, and bodies with enormous amounts of toxic waste. It saddens me that no one seem to care or advocate for these people. On a more positive note, the documentary does explain the steps we can take in the right directions to minimize the issue of waste, such as solar panels to heat and light homes, electric cars, LED lighting, and so many more. There is so much to learn from nature that could improve the lives of our planet and those around us, we just have to learn how to mimic them, and act fast. Doing activity two shortly after watching the documentary made me realize that many of these wicked problems have an easily detectable definition and solution, yet actually following through with these solutions is where we as a society get caught up because people in power would be negatively affected by these solutions. I feel as though all of these issues are urgent, and if we do not act fast we will continue to see the more frightening effects of our actions against the environment. All of these issues can be minimized by many people coming together and acting on what they believe, whether that be buying electric cars, so they gas industry struggles, or protesting material goods for women’s reproductive rights. As scary and imminent as these issues are, we have the power to act in a way that is mindful and effective towards improvement.

Mackenzie Erdley

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