How practicing mindfulness can create a more sustainable future
Being present and finding joy in small things is known to be good for our mental and physical
One of the best ways to calm our minds and enjoy the present is by practicing mindfulness: focusing our attention on the present moment — exactly what is happening right now — and accepting it without judgment. This includes paying attention to our thoughts and feelings while we are experiencing them.
Mindfulness can help us better handle the uncertainty of the future and reduce anxiety, as
practicing mindfulness exercises can help direct attention away from negative or stressful
thoughts. It can also train your brain to be more alert (as long, deep breaths bring more oxygen to the brain), lower stress levels, increase happiness, lower blood pressure, and improve sleep.
What does mindfulness look like? Exercising mindfulness can be as simple as taking time to
pause and breathe when the phone rings, instead of rushing to answer it. Another good
practice is to notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches while doing daily tasks;
experiencing the moment fully with no urgency to move to the next task. Mindfulness can also
be very helpful while waiting in long lines at the grocery store — especially in these stressful
times when grocery shopping can be somewhat daunting. Instead of worrying about rushing
through the line at the checkout (or to get into the store in the first place), take the time to feel
gratitude that you have food to stock your cupboards and were able to make it to the grocery
store that day.
Another form of mindfulness is meditation. Being still with your eyes closed, either repeating a
phrase or mantra or focusing your attention on your breathing, is one form of mediation. This
method encourages you to let your thoughts to come and go, without being bothered by them,
and to focus on being present in the current moment and space. Yoga is another excellent way
to practice meditation as the movements in a yoga sequence focus on breathing and being
present in each pose, with no urgency to move on to the next.
Mindfulness is also a great way to engage with the natural world around us and can even help us shift to a more sustainable society. Mindfulness can even influence how we respond to the
climate change crisis because it allows us to change the way we process information and can
even help increase our motivation. When we practice mindfulness, we can gain a better
appreciation for both people and nature and become more compassionate towards each other—helping to build a more sustainable future as a result.
The researchers involved with the MEOPAR project are working to raise awareness about the
impacts of climate change and how communities can effectively adapt, and increase resilience, to these changes. Follow along with our blog every week (written by researchers Liette Vasseur,
Meredith DeCock, Bradley May, Pulkit Garg, and Sam Gauthier). Visit our website
at brocku.ca/unesco-chair or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo Caption: Practicing mindfulness, such as yoga, is a great way to add a sense of calm and peace to our daily routines.