Trying to live in a sustainable and caring way is not always easy. Caring about people and the environment can feel like carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders, with an awful lot of responsibility falling on you. Carefully considering the impact of your behavior, working hard to research and volunteer, and leading an alternative lifestyle takes energy and dedication. Luckily, when motivation is hard to find, meditation can help you live a sustainable life.
Here are five ways meditation can help you lead a more sustainable life.
1. Helping You Make Mindful Choices
The trend towards minimalism and making mindful choices is one way to live responsibly, working as a direct counter-balance to “mindless consumerism.” Mindfulness is about being more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings, and existing in the present moment. This helps hugely when you are living a sustainable life. Heightened awareness means you are much less likely to buy something on a whim or under the pressure of fleeting emotions, and more likely to truly consider your choices.
There is a misconception that in order to become mindful, you have to practice “mindfulness.” However, there is actually a whole world of meditative practices out there, and meditation in all its forms can help you achieve a mindful state. You might try Vedic meditation if you find it easier to focus on a mantra; yoga if you are a more active person; or spiritual meditation if you hold religious beliefs – you just have to find what is right for you.
2. Boosting Energy Levels
Sometimes, trying to live ethically can be exhausting. You have to think so much more than others and go to greater efforts than you would if you gave up on it all. Whether it is sourcing vegan ingredients, having to put up with people making fun of your lifestyle choices, researching ethical retailers, or making homemade shampoo, the amount of extra labor involved can be overwhelming. Meditation tackles the extra, energy-draining stress you might experience. By improving your quality of sleep and giving you moments of deep and profound rest during the day, you will be jumping out of bed every morning full of energy.
3. Increasing Your Empathy
We all tend to be more compassionate when we are not in a bad mood. Irritability and stress can make it difficult to think empathetically and leave us wrapped up in ourselves.
A vegan lifestyle, sustainability, and activism all ultimately have their roots in compassion, and in wanting the world to be a better place for everyone. To be interested in these concerns at all suggests you are a naturally compassionate person, but we all have our off days, and these can be exacerbated by stress.
Meditation tackles the root cause of everyday selfishness by making us calmer and more mindful, and it has proven to increase our kindness. A study by Northeastern University found that after a course of meditation, people were far more inclined to give up their seat for someone who appeared in pain than they otherwise would have been.
4. Connecting With Another Community
Meditation can benefit anyone, and it is practiced across all sorts of cultures, economic classes, and belief systems. Attending a meditation center or yoga class is a way of building another community – and a thoughtful and mindful one at that. With meditation in common, you can reach out to new people, meet those with similar values, and get introduced to new ideas.
The activist community probably already provides you with lots of help and inspiration, but it can be useful to have a support system that is outside your political sphere. The community you will find though meditation can be just that, and help you with…
5. Easing Activist Burnout
It is not easy to live outside of the norm and care deeply about something. In a world increasingly obsessed with appearances and temporary, social-media-led obsessions, simply being passionate and earnest about something can open you up to the judgment of others. What is more, you can never do enough – especially for the people who think any attempt to live better is a waste of time.
Thinking about climate change, plastic waste, and animal welfare can be hugely dispiriting, and the weight of daily bad news can be overwhelming. This combined with the everyday hard work of activism can make you particularly vulnerable to burnout.
This is probably where meditation is most helpful in a sustainable and caring life. Not only can its restful and calming properties help you avoid burnout in the first place; if you are feeling low, meditation can be a vital part of recovery.
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