… or how we live as individual ripples out to the world and vice-versa
“So, my humble advice to environmentalists would be to demonstrate and explain that altruism is the only concept that can reconcile the needs of the economy in the short term, quality of life in the midterm and the environment in the long term.”
-Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk, photographer and author
I know, I know… environmental wellness, you think it will be about what you can do for the environment, don’t you? As if you have not heard enough about GMO’s, climate change, pollution before… You are partially right, this is part of wellness, whether you think of it this way or not. I strongly believe that one of the messages I need to carry out in this world is to be one with all that is and it manifests itself also by taking care of our environment. Tell me, who does not benefit from clean air, unpolluted rivers and organic food?
So to keep our Self-Care blog post tradition, here are the signs of environmental wellness often found when doing online research:
I added one, and of course you get it by now, I will spend most of my virtual ink talking about those in bold. But first let me get one thing out of the way. It took me a while to realize what I will share with you in the next few lines so I hope you can spare yourself a few years and act on love.
Trying to inspire people from fear and or guilt perspective does not work. We can get short term results or actions which oftentimes end up being done with the wrong motives in mind. Worst is that there is nothing sustainable about this. “When you want people to engage in what you believe in, you will have better results when you inspire them. By focusing on the potential positive and affirming impacts our gestures have on ourselves, others and the environment, we are more likely to stay the course. This is what wellness is all about! Basing our decisions on the fear of what may happen is not a truthful solution, and makes us vibrate at a lower level. This fear is deeply rooted in our culture and there is a good reason for that: To immobilize us! I am here to inspire you to be empowered so you can ditch the fear and bring in the love! If we want to do a green act of kindness we might as well do it for no other reason than because we love this blue planet.
Enjoying and appreciating time outside in natural settings
Do you have a favorite place in nature you always go back to? Or a sacred place that reminds you of your childhood? Nature makes us feel more connected, more free. I find a profound calming effect to my nervous system when I am in nature.
In his book The Nature Principle, Richard Louv explores the healing properties of the great outdoors. There is an entire section referring to mental and physical benefits observed from hanging out in nature, even research and studies proving its beneficial effect on us, which Louv has named Vitamin N. Oftentimes as we become adults we tend to think that we need to stop playing outdoors, like this is something only beneficial to children. How to solve this?
There are many ways and sometimes we do not need to look very far. In the last few weeks, I have put an extra item on our agenda for the entire family as we come back from school: Spend 15 minutes outside in nature. We also changed our farm animal feeding routines to that time as it eases our morning departure and gives us an extra reason not to skip going outside later in the day. I may not follow this routine every day, but we have created a new awareness. In fact, most of the time, we all get caught up spending more than the mandatory time outside because we are having so much fun!
I personally think the disconnection from nature has lead to our personal dis-connection to our own nature as well. Both are interconnected and we have forgotten.
A few years ago in a blog, I described how it was easy to view the environment as something apart, separate, like this thing out there we needed to protect for future generations, or that place we went to during weekend hikes. The environment is right where you are. It is a simple as that. I see multiple environments intermingling.
The first one is our temple. It is not only the body our spirit lives in. The temple encompasses the four sides of who we are: body, mind, heart and soul. I won’t go into details here as we talked about these aspects of self-care in previous posts. You can refer to the hyperlinks above to remind yourself what we talked about.
The second, I like to call hearth as it describes the (warm) environment we are living in. This is what makes the difference between a house and a home. It inevitably includes environmental health but this is not all. It is about creating a mindful home, a sanctuary, one where there is space and pace, where we can feel safe being who we are and where we can live in total harmony. Ideally to me this is a pure place where we strive to remove all toxicity—the ones we breathe, absorb or ingest— and also the ones we may harbor in our inner environment through our thoughts, words and actions.This is reflected in the way we live and what our hearth looks like. There, we can have the most profound impact on others as we are modeling daily in this place we call hearth. If you are a parent you know what I mean.
The third is carried on by itself. It is called Oikos. This word is derived from the ancient Greek. It means home and is often associated with ecology. In Environmental Education, Oikos means our planet, our community. This is the biggest picture, the all encompassing ”environment”.
Creating first and foremost an inner environment in accordance with your values on all aspect of your health.
This refers big time to the temple environment I just described. I will go in depth in future posts as one paragraph really won’t cover it. However just think about this analogy. When you are driving your car and the empty tank light comes on, chances are you will soon take care of it. You know you will run out of fuel and this means big trouble. You won’t be able to go anywhere without tending to the message on the dashboard. We must do the same with our temple and all of its facets. I had neglected some parts of my life and now I pay the price with my health. I am slowly but surely returning to a state of balance. And because I have done some emotional neglect, physical neglect kicked in as a distraction. I did not look at the real deep issues. Dealing with all of this at once now makes it even harder to come back up on my feet. Don’t wait until you get a diagnosis you would rather not have. Tend to your inner light and do not neglect the ones flashing at you on the dashboard of happiness.
When we are making transformations (some we may qualify good, some bad, but hopefully we are making more positive ones) in our lives, it has tremendous ripples around us. It starts first in our family and circle of friends, then larger community, such as work or other organizations we are a part of. In time, we may find that one single change ripples globally and creates a cultural movement.
So it matters a lot to work on our own terrain. When we have fertile soil, we are growing and creating positive changes not only for ourselves, but others too. One of the best ways to impact this world positively and make it a better environment to live in, is to listen to our calling and act on it. I will talk more about life purpose in future posts, but let’s say one thing and if this is the only idea you‘ll always remember from reading me, let this be the one:
There is only you with this specific purpose or mandate in the entire world. If you are not paying attention to your calling, if you are not jumping in it with all your heart, then there will be some people who needed you that won’t be served. Because everyone has something valuable to share and help others with.
What is most important to me is to inspire you to find your soul purpose and act on it in a way that not only does not harm the Earth and its inhabitants but rather in a manner that nurtures nature.
Creating home and work environments that are supportive and nurturing
As you tend to your own garden or temple, live according to your values and act upon creating the life you are meant to live by diving in on your life purpose, things will naturally shift for you and affect others around you as well. Habits will be changed, boundaries will be set, conversations will be created around the transformation occurring. Changing ourselves is by far the best way to inspire and lead others. This is where you will say no to sugar or fast food, yes to safer skin care, and using nature remedies as your ally to your overall health, and so much more! This is hopefully where you will also notice the clutter, toxic energy, bad relationships that are polluting your home and work environment. And do something about it. This will create waves of change in your surroundings whether this was your goal or not. People will look at you and will wonder: “Why have I not tried this before?” And this is how we create movements and cultural shifts.This is how we change the world, by changing our world.
So now, today make one slight beneficial change towards greater environmental health, even if this is just parking a little further away to walk and breathe some fresh air. Observe how you feel and if other people take on the challenge with you. Share your act of Self-Care with us here so we can all b encouraged to do more!