Heal yourself, heal the earth
"Our life on this planet is an amazing gift, and also a sacred responsibility.” - WE-AR.
Over the last few months my social feeds have been bombarded with ‘doomsday’ environmental crises, kids striking, and climate emergencies. It could just be my algorithm but it is definitely putting the pressure on me to make more sustainable changes in my life. And necessary changes at that. But while the world feels like it’s burning down around us, how can we maintain composure and stay mindful?
Working in both environmental advocacy and mindfulness, I have noticed a connection between these two topics. In the environmental world we see a crisis with biodiversity, climate instability, and chronic consumerism. In the mental health & mindfulness world, we are seeing high rates of anxiety, depression and suicide. Are these two things interconnected? And if it is true that we are ‘All One’ then of course these things have distinct and inextricable tie.
Māori worldview sees that the health of the land reflects the health of its people. And I couldn’t agree more. When we feel connected to our land we look after it, it feeds us with clean food and water, resulting in a healthy body and mind. Okay, so if a healthy earth equals a healthy ‘us’, we need help because our earth is not exactly healthy right now. I think we have strayed a bit off-course! Most of us live in cities, shop at the supermarket and struggle to find the time to even keep a herb garden alive.
Our ecological situation can be overwhelming but there are things you can do and the good news is you can start by simply meditating. By practicing mindfulness you are becoming more aware of your inner self and in touch with your surroundings. Personally, as I began to practice meditation I became more aware of our interconnectedness with nature. From here, it became easy to change my behaviour and live more sustainably. I changed my diet to be plant-based, am more mindful of my consumption, stopped binge drinking and started taking the walking bus to get places.
These differences, however minor in the scheme of things, have knock on effects in my home, my immediate community, and ultimately ripple outwards. By taking the first step of setting aside time in the day to sit in stillness, I’ve become empowered to make better decisions, more often.
Here are some tips for you to use in your life;
- Healing yourself is healing the earth. Create a self love practice and do it everyday. I suggest dancing, meditation, and gratitude journaling. This will raise your vibe and raise the vibe of Papatuanuku too.
- Compost. Get yourself a Bokashi or call We Compost
- Shop organic and non-processed. Your body is a wonderland and it only deserves the best kai, steer clear of the toxic chemicals. I personally get the bulk of my produce from farmers markets - which builds community, decreases your carbon footprint, and is much more enjoyable.
- Start saving all your jars because bulk food shopping is the best. Minimise your packaging and plastic consumption. I personally hit Good For Store.
- Shop ethically and sustainably. Find your favourite sustainable brands or hit the op-shops.
Practicing mindfulness is one of the first things we can do to help the ecological crisis. We are healing our relationship with ourselves and only then can we heal our relationship with our land, water, and sky. We begin to reconnect to Papatuanuku, Pachamama, our mother earth. Then all of these eco-aligned changes happen naturally, you won’t want to take part in harming nature because you know you are interconnected with it. When you realise that hurting nature is hurting yourself, you naturally begin to change your behaviour to heal the world.
So, the key takeaway? Do what makes you feel love, heal your relationship with self and connect with natural places, these are the most sustainable changes you can make in your life.
Ursula is a meditation teacher, ecologist and environmental communicator. She hails from Auckland City where she runs @foryou.workshops. ‘For You’ hosts health and wellbeing events such as retreats, courses and workshops with the purpose of reconnecting people to self and nature. Ursula also works with environmental groups running events and online communications. Her other hat is teaching meditation and she has recently been developing work around Mindfulness + Sustainability, and how ‘waking up’ is essential for the healing our changing climate.
To learn more about Ursula’s work follow her on instagram @ursulagriffen or visit www.foryouworkshops.com