You Need to Calm Down – Mindfulness

The overall impression I have from this week’s assignments can be summarized in two words: “meditate, bro.”  Compared to my initial blog post, I am feeling much more positive and hopeful. Last week I felt frustrated, hurt, and worried about the state of our planet. I found the information this week to be much more enlightening, encouraging, and calming.

          I have long been a believer in meditation and practicing mindfulness. While I have not been implementing these practices as of late, I found our reading to be a positive “whack on the head” that I should start practicing mindfulness once more. While I have known about the emotional and physical benefits of meditation for many years, I was pleasantly surprised to see that other areas have started realizing its benefits as well. I was very surprised to hear that business, education, and criminal justice fields are embracing mindfulness practices.  I was not at all surprised to learn that an increase in mindfulness is statistically linked to sustainable lifestyles. However, I never made that connection before reading our mindfulness article. While I did practice meditation and mindfulness for many years as a teenager, I have been a self-proclaimed hippy since childhood. The link came naturally to me. What no longer comes naturally to me, though, is the desire to sit down and meditate.

          I stopped practicing mindfulness around the time I first started college (about four years ago). Yes, I know – that was absolutely the worst time to stop. Life got busy and I slowly began accepting that I was “mind full” instead of “mindful”. I was unsure about how to feel about meditating again after so long. Naturally, I forced my best friend and fiancé to do it with me. Overall, it was an incredibly relaxing experience. I selected Tara Brach’s “Letting Go” guided meditation for us all to do together. It was all about focusing on the present, relaxing, and taking time to let go of your burdens. I felt less stressed than I had in quite a while.  

          My favorite part about this week’s assignment was watching the TED Talk. Unfortunately, I was unwell last week and did not get to participate in lecture or the Wild Things Activity. However, I did enjoy being able to take the time to truly listen to the TED Talk outside of class. I was able to pause and reflect, rewind and listen to unclear points a few times, and I got to understand every word he said due to the magic of closed captions. The part that really hit home for me was when Marc Cohen introduced the concept of “as above, so below”. He emphasized the fact that the things we do for ourselves are reflected right back into the world around us. Therefore, by changing ourselves we are actually able to influence and change the world. This was a truly inspiring thought for me. When looking at the grand scheme of wicked problems out planet is facing, it is easy to get hopeless. You recycle, plant trees, pick up trash – is it enough? According to Marc Cohen, yes, it is. It makes a difference. It matters. By doing one small action you are able to reflect that mindset back onto the world. You are able to influence the people around you.

          This inspired me to finally choose my topic for Activity 2. I have long been frustrated by the use of artificial textiles in the apparel industry. Last year I read an article discussing the idea that faux fur is more sustainable than real fur. Guess what? They’re both awful. It is almost impossible to find clothing without some kind of plastic-based fiber woven through it. In an industry completely saturated with unsustainable practices it can feel extremely overwhelming to try and go into it with the planet’s interests in mind. However, after watching Marc Cohen’s video I am excited to do my part in helping out planet. I am excited about my paper topic and cannot wait to gather more information about this wicked problem.

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