How Mindfulness Practice Leads to Better Understanding

In my experience with the wicked problems we have talked about within the past 8 weeks, I have learned they are like poisoned chalices. While they make you think deeply and truly engage your mind in a question, they can also cause stress and anxiety. As a young person trying to navigate my way into adulthood, these problems made me question a lot and feel scared about my future. To deal with this issue I used mindfulness practices beforehand to ease some of the discomfort, and it really helped. In this blog I will discuss how preparing your mind and body for work, school, or even a workout is truly beneficial for the soul and how it helped me.

At the beginning of this course I had no clue what a wicked problem was. I always cared about the environment and I knew a little about the detriment of pollution so I recycled and shopped at thrift stores. This led me to believe that I was a very sustainable person. However, after a short time in this course, I quickly learned that this wasn’t the case. I began to have questions like; “am I even a sustainable person?” and  “is there even a solution to these pressing problems?”. 

All these problems began to feel like they were my responsibility in a way. I would think, “I mean I am a fully capable person living on this planet, why shouldn’t I be the one to make a change.” This would replay in my head after class every Tuesday night, building on my conscience until the guilt would consume me. I started to recycle absolutely everything I could and even got my roommate to as well, but it wasn’t enough. I still felt like I should be doing more. 

The one and only thing that helped me ease my anxiety was completing a mindfulness practice. At first, I would dread them and push them off till the end of the day (sometimes I wouldn’t even do it), but when I did and completely focused on it, I noticed how much easier it was for me to talk about the wicked problems. Once I stopped trying to critique my mindfulness practices, even if it was different from everyone else’s experience, my understanding for these problems began to excel. Using this tool was a way for me to completely block out the distractions and the overwhelming thoughts that would fill my head. I would tell myself things like, “I will have a completely focused and energized homework session.” It felt like I was giving myself permission to let everything else go and just focus on the moment. This gave me the confidence to really dig deep to understand the wicked problem as opposed to ignoring it due to my fear of the unknown. Even though I was hesitant and felt a little uncomfortable doing these practices, after I let go of my resistance to it, I finally began to understand how to take a compassionate curiosity to the multiple ways one comes to understand a wicked problem.

For about the first four weeks of this class I felt pretty confident in my responses to the wicked problems we discussed. This quickly faded as the topics became more challenging to understand. I’m not sure if it is because the readings themselves were harder to comprehend or if it was the wicked problems that were throwing me off but my confidence began to slowly but surely decrease as time went on. This caused the self doubt to come back, but for a different reason this time. My new question was, “Am I even capable of making a change?”

I began to feel in over my head as I was reading all these extremely interesting but exhausting to read articles from amazing authors that seemed to have a real understanding of these wicked problems. I felt that I could never even begin to be on that level and thought of giving up on my mindfulness meditation practices all together. I was thinking, “wow I am not as smart as these people, I have no place in having an opinion on this topic.”

In reality everyone’s opinion matters and everyone no matter how big or small can make a lasting impact on the world. This thought of not believing in myself only hindered my process of  developing humble and compassionate responses to wicked problems.I had to realize that it is okay to not be the person to solve all the sustainability issues in this world and all I can do is put in some of my effort to be the best person I can be and try to inspire my inner circle to do the same. 

I am so grateful I was given the opportunity to take this course, I learned that my ways need to change. I need to do more research into the brands I’m buying from and supporting, as well as how to make my life more sustainable and not add to the huge amounts of pollution and waste we already have on our hands. I hope to bring that change for myself and as well as others. I also learned that the wicked problems we discussed don’t contain any real or proper solutions when it comes to fixing them. Creating a solution could possibly only cause more problems in the end, and not everyone would agree on the terms of fixing the issues at hand. Wicked problems need extremely creative and crafty solutions, as well as one most can agree will be for the better and the benefit of others.

I understand that as a young adult I do have a strong impact on this world. I can help to pass knowledge to my family, friends, and associates. In the smallest of ways I can introduce sustainable habits of living, as well as mindfulness to my loved ones. It is so important for old and new generations to have knowledge about how they can live life peacefully. To know that I could impact my peers and that that impact will go on to others which will eventually improve the world is extremely important to me. In my circle of influence I can create an ongoing cycle of positive influence that promotes humans to care about their mental health and their environment.

Through all of these many readings, videos, and personal research, I have definitely learned the importance of living sustainably, and have been given many different options of ways I may implement it into my own life. As for now, I may contribute by being a communicator/educator. My activism may be limited considering I do not own any large companies or have my own brand(yet), but hopefully one day I will be in more of a position to do such things. I may even be a facilitator, using my own sustainable design processes and passing them onto others. I am greatly excited about all that I have learned, because it gives me sort of a new purpose in the way I may design. Even though these possibilities are far in the future, I look forward to being able to use what I have learned on a larger-scaled level. As for now, I will do what I can and encourage others to do the same.

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