“Nature is not a place to visit. It is home.”
Today is World Environment Day. This day was created by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. Amazing—43 years of bringing global awareness to the well-being of humanity and our natural environment. This year’s theme is “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” I love this. What a thought-provoking theme for all of us to keep in mind this day and every day.
Yes, there are more than 7 billion of us on this one magnificent planet of ours. Imagine If each of us treated the earth with care and respect, our world could be a paradise with enough resources to go around for everyone.
Environmental issues are a hot topic these days, and for good reason. There is a lot of destruction happening all around the globe, and in many circles, little or no thought is given to sustainability. As Mahatma Gandhi is quoted as saying, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s needs, but not every man’s greed.” Unfortunately, many of the issues that surround environmental issues are centered on profit. Often I hear, “We have time to fix things; we can do it later.” From smog to polluted water to the decimation of natural habits and more, there is much to be concerned about if we wish to keep Mother Earth alive and well. I don’t believe it can wait until later—7 billion makes this urgent!
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors;
we borrow it from our children.”
The above is a famous quote whose authorship is debated, but I’ve most often seen it attributed to Chief Seattle or to the Native Americans in general. Let this proverb help guide us as we look at what and how we are consuming earth’s natural resources as well as the manmade products that often make life more convenient.
Are we consuming with care? This is a question each of us needs to answer for ourselves. If our answer is yes, then we are doing a small part in ensuring that the generations to come will inherit a sustainable, healthy world. If not, we must think about what we can do to reduce our waste and then take action. Every little bit counts! You may think small actions don’t make a significant difference, but it does matter greatly that we each do our part to have the greatest impact.
If you are interested in doing even more or just learning about World Environment Day in general, visit the website of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP): http://www.unep.org/wed/.
“When the heart speaks, the mind finds it indecent to object.”
―Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Our human heart beats an average of about 100,000 times a day. This definitely gives each of us plenty of opportunity every day to be present to the moments that make up our lives! The heart is an incredible organ, and it is a wonderful, metaphorical home for our source of love and spirit. February is American Heart Month, so let’s take a look at how we can return the love and keep our heart healthy—spiritually and physically:
- Breathe fresh air. We all know that the heart pumps blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen, as well as nutrients, where it’s needed. When we breathe in fresh, clean air, we are supporting our heart in its life-giving task by making sure it has a good source of this essential element. We don’t think of this often enough, so remember to guard yourself (and your heart!) against exposure to toxins in the air, like cigarette smoke, aerosol sprays, and other pollution, which make it more difficult for your heart to get the oxygen it needs.
- Have a “heart to heart” talk with your heart. Try to make it a habit to sit in silence every morning and listen to the “whisperings” of your heart. When you are quiet and you are allowing some space between your thoughts through meditation and Sacred Mantra repetition, you are better able to hear what your heart wants to tell you. It has important messages to share.
- Feel the love. Try to approach people in your life with an open heart by being receptive and in the moment. Having a spiritual practice helps keep you in the present moment where your heart naturally opens, and you begin to see the people you know in a more accepting light, allowing the love to flow more freely between you.
- Laugh often. Open your heart by enjoying some hearty laughter. When we see the humorous side of things, we are less upset if something goes wrong, which allows room for a loving response. Some research suggests that laughter is good for our cardiovascular health. For instance, in 2006, Scientific American posted an eye-opening article called “Laughter Proves Good Medicine for Heart.” So look for the lighter side of life and don’t take things personally.
- Reduce your stress levels. Have you ever been under such stress that you’ve said something like, “My blood was boiling” or “My heart was racing”? Most of us can probably recognize the connection between stress and our personal heart health. How do we keep our stress levels in check? We prioritize, stop, and take some deep breaths to get ourselves back on track during the day. My most important advice is to begin your day with a five-minute meditation practice to connect to your heart—your inner voice—so that you can go into the day centered and strong.
- Stay active. The American Heart Association (AHA) website says, “The simplest, positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health is to start walking.” When we take a nice long walk, not only are we doing our body a great service, we are giving ourselves a chance to stop, connect with nature, and nourish our mind and heart. For more recommendations from AHA, visit www.heart.org.