As our beaches and parks get shut down, the preciousness of nature seems even more important. If anything will keep us sane and healthy right now it is the forests, the trees and the wide-open seas. My hope is that we always take the time to observe the beauty of nature. Even if we are locked inside, we can still look up at the clouds and the stars; and see the immense beauty that we are a part of. We can feel the gift of the green leafy trees in every breath we take.
If the last few months have taught us anything it is the degree to which nothing in the world happens in isolation. As a species we need to be reminded that we are just guests on this planet, and we are not masters. As Chief Seattle famously reminded us, “we did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand.”
Ultimately, Yoga and Ecology are both saying the same things; we are all interconnected. We need to get unstuck from our own selfish ego needs and see the joy of harmony with all life.
What are some things we can do this Earth Day? Here’s my list.
Relish Nature Appreciation Moments:
Quiet times in Nature, what I call Nature Appreciation Moments, are the foundation of my yoga practice. Slowing down and observing Nature opens the door to presence. It steers our consciousness from feeling trapped inside a head full of problems to an expansive experience of awe, joy and wonder. An intimate relationship with nature is the foundation of physical and emotional well-being. This is especially true now when we have so much anxiety in our lives.
Jacques Cousteau famously said, “we protect what we revere.” He’s right. Nature Appreciation moments allow us to download the doctrine of beauty into our hearts. But it’s a two-way street. When we are more connected to nature, we will be better stewards for the planet we love.
I always tell people that this essential step is where all environmentalism starts; getting quiet in nature and letting our deepest heart become clear.
The first thing that comes to my mind to minimize our carbon footprint, is by using habits that we have already established in “lockdown.” It’s become clear that meetings can happen by Skype, Facetime and Zoom. Do we really need to take that business trip across town, across the country or across the globe to have a meeting? Is there a video conference that would suffice? I am committing to offering way more online training and courses long after the pandemic peaks.
A commitment I am making is to not rely so much on recycling and even reuse but instead go straight to the reduced part of the 3R’s of sustainability. Recycling is better than not recycling, no doubt. But a challenge we have made in our family is just to reduce. To try to skip recycle all together. Instead of buying three bottles of kombucha for five dollars each, we make our own kombucha at home and save the energy it takes to recycle glass. We make our own sauerkraut and even yogurt. We buy bread from the local bakery bringing our own bags and even beer gets refilled at our local craft brewery in growlers we own. The great thing is, we end up saving a ton of money this way too!
Carry Utensils and Cups:
Get a fanny pack! No, the fanny pack itself won’t save the planet but what you can carry in it will help. I always have a set of bamboo utensils and a drinking straw in my fanny pack. In my backpack, I carry a reusable coffee cup and a water bottle.
Vote with Your Dollars:
Support companies that make an effort to use less packaging, no toxic chemicals and who give back to the planet. The more we show that we care by how we spend our money, the more we can help shape a world where businesses have a more positive relationship to our precious environment.
Eat Locally and Aim at Growing Some of your Food:
It’s better for you and your microbiome. There is so much goodness that comes by being connected to your ecosystem. Foraging and growing food (even a few planters of herbs in your kitchen window will do) with friends and family brings back a simple joy that is deep in our biology.
Donating money to organizations is fine but meeting people and rolling up your sleeves is incredibly rewarding. Find a group you connect with and join them. E.g. At a beach cleanup in your neighbourhood. A few years ago I started the EcoKarma foundation where we do yoga in the morning and environmental impact work like coral transplanting, mangrove restoration and beach cleanups. The joy from working together with a group of like-minded people to take care of the planet is unparalleled. It is my antidepressant and gives me hope for the future we can create for ourselves and this planet we call home.