Now hold up! This is an inclusive blog that encourages people to take small steps in an effort to live more sustainably, what’s with the Onion-esque article title?
Hear me out- have you ever been so focused on your end goal that you forgot what steps were necessary to get there? Have you ever been so overwhelmed by a huge project that even starting it seemed futile? One thing I am constantly repeating to the kids I coach, my friends and my intimate partner is “never sacrifice your path for your goal”. The path you walk is just as righteous as the end goal.
Climate change is the buzzword of my generation. More and more companies are altering their infrastructure and operating systems to accommodate a more environmentally conscious consumer. This is fantastic and should be encouraged! More than anything else, this shows that big businesses are listening!! But I want you to be more than a environmentally conscious consumer.
I want you to be a mindful consumer.
No, better yet, I want you to be mindful first, and consume second.
So here are my 5 steps to being more mindful, because at the end of the day it’s not the planet we’re working so hard to save, it’s humanity. The earth doesn’t need us, we need the earth.
Bring mindfulness into your daily routine. Turn your brain on when you’re brushing your teeth, washing your hair, mowing the grass, making your bed, etc. I can’t meditate to save my life- I’ve tried. Turning my brain off is just not an option for me. If you can do that then more power to you! If you can’t, then bringing mindfulness into your daily routine could be extremely helpful for you. Some of my best ideas have come to me while brushing my teeth and wondering why and how this routine has stuck around for so long and what we did before toothbrushes and toothpaste. One day I was taking a shower and as I watched the water go down the drain it occurred to me that I could put a bin under my shower head and try to rescue some of that unused run-off. I decided to use that water to water my plants. So, by being mindful in the shower, I not only rescued unused water, but I started a pattern of watering my plants more regularly and sustainably! Which brings me to my next point-
Get creative- then create! Being present and thinking critically spurs heightened awareness and consciousness. When we stop focusing on the end goal and instead set our sights on the process, we are more free to explore our creative subconscious. So pick your favorite creative activity, whether that’s baking, painting, gardening, singing in the shower, writing poetry, or D&D- jump into it! I found peace and creativity in my garden. Mind you, I do not have a green thumb by any means, I just enjoy it! Recently it feels like my roommates and I have been breaking a bunch of mugs and plates (not sure what’s going on there but…) and I couldn’t bring myself to just throw them away. Last Tuesday when I decided to re-pot all of my indoor plants in celebration of spring, I used the broken bits of ceramic to act as a layer of rocks at the bottom of each of the pots. Save $$, save the planet, save face.
Indulge your creative brain, let your guard down and create! As you get into the flow of things you’ll notice that your thoughts begin to quiet as your mind engages fully with the task at hand.
Breathe. Just breathe. Calming your breath is the key to calming your mind. This is the foundation of all mindfulness. So you can’t meditate? That’s fine, I bet you breathe every. single. day. Take a minute as you read this on your phone or in your office and breathe with me.
Did you do it? I noticed that my posture improved and I sat in a more balanced position. I also noticed that my jaw had been clenched the whole time I’ve been writing this!
Put your phone down and go outside. Do you start your day scrolling through your newsfeed or checking your email? Do you end your day by scrolling through your newsfeed or checking your email? I’m no tech-saint and am willing to admit that I have definitely done this before. Some of you may have a demanding job where this is just not an option, but for me, it was. We have all been at a table when we noticed that every single person sitting down was on their phone. It doesn’t feel good and to be frank, it’s sad. Make a pact with yourself to leave the phone in your room while you’re at the dinner table. My roommate makes a point to leave her phone when she takes her dog out for a walk (feel free to bring it with you for safety, just don’t use it!). If you’re walking to the metro, put your phone down and keep your head up, make eye contact with people. Be present and connect with the people who share your morning commute. The most mindful people I know have healthy boundaries with their tech devices and you can do it too!
Feel yourself, and I mean reallllyyyyy feel you. Life is tough and to quote literally everyone ever: the struggle is real. I’m going to get honest with you guys because if you’re this far into this article then you must be one awesome person. My brother died when he was 13. And you wanna know what? It’s been 20 years and I am still not okay. I don’t think I will ever be “okay” but I work every day to find happiness. Happiness to me is practicing mindful gratitude for the moments themselves. I learned that something happens when you experience death at such a young age- you start to live relatively. Every moment of sadness, anger or pain is compared to the moment you lost everything. I noticed this in high school. Things that were earth-shattering to my friends just didn’t seem to strike the same chord with me. That’s because I was constantly comparing my emotions to the relativity of the greatest trauma of my life. That, my friends, is not a mindful existence. Life isn’t a competition and each moment should not be held to the same standards as the moment before. So the next time you feel disconnected or are overwhelmed by happiness or have an internal conflict or feel stagnant or can’t contain your excitement- please take a breath, put your phone down, go outside and feel it all. Roll around in it. Because you are alive and these feelings mean you’re living.