As I inhale the cold air around me, I focus only on the relaxing sensation of the air entering my body as I admire the way the trees cast shadows from the midday sun. This is how I practice mindfulness: living day by day and appreciating the moment I am in rather than anticipating the future. As my college schedule fills up, it is easy for me to become overwhelmed with all of my work and responsibilities. Mindfulness has taught me to focus only on the task in front of me and to acknowledge how my body is feeling as I complete activities throughout the day. This practice has made me more productive, but I know that there are more areas in my life that I could practice mindfulness, such as regularly practicing meditation like we did in class. I found that to be a great way to drown out noise from the world and put my attention only on the wellbeing of my own mind and body.
Wicked Problems has introduced to me a whole new dimension of mindfulness. I never considered the impact that mindfulness could have on the environment until the ‘Mindfulness and Sustainability’ reading. What struck me the most is learning about how mindfulness can be used to fight persuasive advertisements that promote material culture. Instead of finding reward in fulfilment in material things, mindfulness teaches us to see how good our lives are without the newest gadgets and technology. If more people learned to value non materialistic things, overconsumption would drop and sustainable behavior would rise. In knowing this, I will pay more attention when I see advertisements come up for new products. I now know to stop and think: will this item really make me happy? In the end, I know I will be saving myself some money, and the earth some resources.
Another thing that interests me is the idea of total wellness, rather than just being physically healthy. Watching Marc Cohen’s TED talk made me realize how our society focuses a lot on healing illness but not promoting wellness. To me, this reflects a loss of much happiness and productivity among our population because people are unable to reach their full potential. How different, I wonder, would our society be if we all knew how to live with mindfulness? I imagine our attitudes would be more positive and the movement towards sustainable living would see a dramatic increase.
I have learned a great deal about mindfulness in this class, and I am excited to implement this practice more into my everyday life. This will not only increase my personal well-being, but it will have a positive impact on the environment as well. I understand the importance of promoting total wellness, and understand my responsibility to spread the message of mindfulness. Maybe one day, this practice will be normal in our society and we can lead our population into sustainable living.