How Practicing Mindfulness Leads to an Eco-conscious Lifestyle

By Callie Morrocco

What is the relation between mindfulness and sustainability and how mindfulness contributes to an eco-conscious lifestyle?
Mindfulness and sustainability are more integrated than you think. This is because mindfulness is the practice of becoming completely aware of the present moment. When we are in the present moment, we become more in tune with ourselves and the Earth. Meditation guides us to look through a lens of compassion and a sense of “oneness” with nature. We listen to the frequencies surrounding us, we reflect on how we impact the ground beneath us and the world around us.
Yogis educated in yogic philosophy dedicate energy towards the eight limbs of the yogic path. Specifically, they practice the yamas and the niyamas.
The yamas are the relationship we have with the world and the niyamas are the relationship we have with ourselves.
One of the five yamas is ahimsa which is the practice of nonviolence. This is key to understanding how mindfulness contributes to the kind of relationship we have with the Earth and our environment. Ahimsa teaches us to look at the ways in which we might be cause suffering to our world and others and to adjust accordingly. By eating a plant-based diet, we can minimize the amount of harm we bring to other sentient beings and our planet.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra says, “When you are established in ahimsa (non-harming), others will stop harming you.”
Meat production is one of the leading causes of carbon emissions into our atmosphere. By cutting down or cutting out meat from our diet all-together, we reduce our carbon footprint. This is just one example of how our mindfulness leads to a sustainable lifestyle.
A second example is through Aparigraha. This yama is the practice of non-hoarding or non-grasping. With Aparigraha, we develop a sensitivity to things we truly need and become less inclined to buy what we don’t. Being a conscious consumer is finding awareness of the impact of our purchasing decisions on the environment. When we buy with intention, we keep our amount of waste down.
Lastly, reflection is found through sustainability and mindfulness. When reflecting, we find ways in which we influence our environment. By tapping into our mental, emotional, and spiritual selves, we find a closer connection to the outside world and the impact we make.
Intention and reflection are the products of practicing mindfulness. With reflection, we take our gaze inward and notice the things we might be achieving or lacking in ourselves. With intention, we take our gaze outward and notice things we can do to help our environment and the people with whom we share our environment.
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