I know! Mindfulness and saving the planet don’t seem to be related right? We are constantly told we need to DO something about climate change. And, of course, we do! But maybe first we need to just sit still for a moment.
Believe it or not, there have been a number of studies that have shown a link between meditation and pro-environmental behavior. You can check the References section to find them.
There isn’t really an agreed upon theory as to why people who meditate are more likely to act in environmental ways, but here is what I think: We do know that mindfulness helps with stress reduction –that is well agreed upon– and thinking about climate change is very stressful–that is also well agreed upon! We also know that stressed people don’t problem solve well, because the amygdala or “flight or fight” part of the brain overrides the cortex during stress– again an agreed upon fact. And we know that meditation calms the amygdala and activates the prefrontal cortex. So basically, people who meditate are able to think clearly amongst the stress and noise of climate change news, while the rest of the world is busy metaphorically running away.
But here is the thing, meditation is a tool. It’s a tool that requires lots of upkeep. If you leave it to “get rusty” and you and your children only pick it up to use it when your stressed about a new report or news story, it won’t work very well. You have to practice it frequently to keep the tool sharp.
(Don’t forget to check the reference page for more about the science of meditation and the mind)