This week, I really enjoyed learning more about mindfulness and how it is applicable to dealing with environmental issues and other wicked problems. I already had an understanding of some aspects of mindfulness, but I think this past week helped me to understand that mindfulness goes beyond breathing exercises and meditation, but also includes many ordinary activities that helps us to slow down, focus our thoughts, and allow us to process what our senses are taking in a moment. For me, some of the activities in my life that increase my mindfulness in a moment include going on a run or walk around the neighborhood, being in nature, watercoloring painting, baking banana bread, journaling, or just enjoying a sunset or sunrise. Earlier last week, when I was researching more about mindfulness and what that encompasses, I thought it was interesting that many of the articles I found about mindfulness talked about how learning to be more mindful increases our ability to empathize with other people or increases our compassion towards others. I think that one of the biggest takeaways from this week is that mindfulness affects our compassion and empathy towards others, which will then affect our decision-making. In the context of having to deal with complicated problems our society faces with the environment, our mindfulness could influence our decisions in that we would be more prone to making decisions for the betterment of other people, because we have more compassion and a desire to do what is right.
Another takeaway I had from this week came from the article we had to read before class and the discussion in my break-out group. I was backing the argument that sustainability is not compatible with globalization or consumerism (I was on the “NO” team). I think it was interesting to discuss with the other students’ in my group about the question, because there really is not a correct answer. In our discussion, we ended up deciding that sustainability is not compatible with globalization, because our society has constructed models and patterns of living that would be incredibly difficult to reverse. Our government contributes to the continuous spread of globalization and consumerism, as well as business practices which have influenced globalization, such as marketing. We came to the conclusion, that while there might be ways we could create more sustainable living habits, such as moderation and limiting our expenditure of money on goods and services that are unessential, it would be nearly impossible to prevent or reverse globalization, which, unfortunately, has resulted in negative effects on our environment.
This week, I also had the opportunity to practice mindfulness on my own. Although it was only five minutes, it was interesting and restful just to put away any distraction around me and sit in silence for a little bit. I think that something I got out of this quick assignment was that it made me realize how scrambled my thoughts are and how much I do not take the time to just breathe. It was a good exercise to help me to allow myself to empty my mind. Overall, this week was interesting and really fun. I enjoyed learning more about mindfulness and how to cultivate that into my daily life.