Everyday Mindfulness

3 Ways to be Kind to Yourself (and Our Planet)

It’s common to feel a sense of grief or anxiety for the current state of our planet. Here are three ways you can ease that ache and show both yourself and the earth a little kindness.

Our connection to the wonders of nature is part of who we are, and yet that connection often feels like an uneasy one. While we lived mostly indoors during global COVID-19 lockdowns, many of us realized how much we treasure the awe-kindling beauty of the natural world, whether in our own garden or deep in the forest. We are not separate from nature, as Sebene Selassie says—we are one with it.

Yet, at the same time, these feelings of awe and connection may be tinged with more than a little fear and grief. With record-breaking storms, floods, and heatwaves, not only is this beautiful planet earth sending out an SOS, but humans and other living beings are suffering too. If your heart has been aching for all these impacts of climate change, you’re not alone. 

Mindfulness teachers like Selassie remind us that the lighthouse in this storm of disruption is found in our innate connection to the earth. At any time, we can turn toward these challenging thoughts and emotions and choose to respond with kindness—kindness that extends to yourself, to other people, to the global home we share.

You might start with these three ways you can ease the ache by practicing kindness to yourself, and kindness to the earth:

  1. Name your feelings. Are you feeling anxious? Sad? Angry? Betrayed? Recognizing our emotions around climate grief is the first step—it’s what allows us to validate those emotions, without letting them paralyze us. “We never really know what is coming next,” says Carley Hauck, “and sometimes the best and most courageous thing we can do is put one foot in front of the other and keep breathing through all of it.” Try this 10-minute guided meditation to help you name and work with difficult emotions.
  1. Unhook from the worry loop. Sebene Selassie writes, “Our minds can have a hard time staying grounded in the present. It’s our meditation practice that can help us connect to our body and our breath, allowing us to build our capacity to be present with what is with kindness and care.” Explore her Four Elements practice to release climate anxiety and reconnect with a joyful sense of belonging to nature. 
  2.  Notice where you feel called to take kind action. Start where you are, and do what you can to be kind to the earth. Whatever your activism looks like—whether it’s tending a little patch of green in your backyard, or being part of a global effort—no act of kindness is too small to matter. Joe Flanders offers three tips to channel your kindness toward yourself, those around you, and to the planet.

The natural world and its processes has much to teach us about the flexibility, creativity, and resilience that’s already within us, just waiting to unfurl.
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  • July 14, 2021

Mark Coleman explores the paradox of continuing to open our hearts to the beauty of the natural world while also feeling the deep pain of losing what we love.
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  • March 21, 2019

Mindful columnist Elaine Smookler reminds us that there are countless ways to bring joy, health, and healing to our planet. You might be the agent of change we’ve been waiting for.
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  • Elaine Smookler
  • August 18, 2021

Trail-bound or office-bound, here are a few ways to mindfully celebrate the nature around us. 
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  • Carsten Knox
  • June 21, 2019

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