A Guided Earth Day Reflection
One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that many of us are spending more time outside than we did before. If you are in a place that allows for social distancing walks, you may already feel gratitude for nature. And if you are in a location that doesn’t enable much time outdoors, you are probably missing the feel of the ground beneath your feet or the breeze on your face.
No matter where we are and how much time we can spend in nature right now, every one of us can stay connected to the Earth through meditation and reflection.
In honor of Earth Day 2020, I have created an open-eyed guided reflection to support you in experiencing your love and appreciation for the planet. While we may not be able to take much direct climate action these days, accessing and expanding our relationship with Mother Earth will both replenish us and motivate us to care for the only home we have.
Find a comfortable seat near an open window, or outside in nature if possible.
Take a few deep breaths, allowing your out-breath to be longer and slower than your in-breath.
Glance around, either through the window, or at the surrounding environment. Notice:
Natural smells, like the soil after a rain, or fresh cut grass
The fresh air moving across your face, the temperature on your skin
Green leaves, the brown trunks of trees, multi-colored flowers
Sounds like birds chirping, bees humming, or wind blowing through treetops
Spend a few minutes reveling in the sense impressions nature is gifting you. Become aware of how you receive pleasure from connecting with the natural world. What do you feel, and where do you feel it in your body?
Now reflect on how your life, and that of every living being, depends on the earth’s ecosystems. The oxygen you breathe comes from the trees. The food you eat comes from the soil, water, and sun. The water you drink comes from the rain, rivers, and oceans. The home you live in comes from materials provided by the earth. Explore other ways in which you depend on the planet.
Next, take a few deep breaths and as you do so, allow gratitude for how the earth supports you to rise up in you. When your torso feels full, extend your energy outward, as if a waterfall of gratitude were streaming from you to the ground. Imagine the earth soaking up your offering as if it was thirsty soil. In your mind’s eye, see the healing nectar of deep appreciation sinking into and flowing through the soil and into the waterways.
Then envision stooping down next to a clear river. Bend over and scoop a handful of water to your mouth. Drink in the enriched water, water that has circulated through the cycle of giving and receiving. It reminds you that you are connected with everything, an inherent part of nature.
As John Muir, one of the early environmentalists, said,
“When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.”
Take more deep breaths. With each one, feel yourself a part of this living planet. The well-known Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh, teaches that as we breathe and look deeply into nature, we realize we are the Earth. You might even say something silently to yourself as you breathe that states this; something like, “I am a part of nature. I play a role in this planet’s dynamic and delicate ecosystem. I am not separate from the earth I walk on.” Use words that resonate most for you.
From this place of recognition, reach out with your awareness again to all living beings and ecosystems on the planet. Connect with animals near and far, small and large. Extend to the water and soil in your environment. Imagine all the life in motion there.
Rise further in your mind’s eye, like a bird, until you can see the country in which you live. Visualize the patterns created on the landscape by the mountains, plains, trees, fields, towns, and cities. Keep rising up until you can see the continents and the oceans circling them. Notice the currents and wind tessellations moving around the globe.
Ascend higher and hover in near space. Observe the earth as a whole, a small blue and green planet illuminated by the sun, our one and only precious home. Notice:
how beautiful and fragile it is
how beautiful and fragile all creation living on it is
how much we have taken it for granted
how much we have over-used its gifts
how our neglect has set life as we know on fire
As you pay attention to the planet, allow a new thought to emerge from the blue space of your mind. "If we have the power to impact our home in such a dire way, we also have the power to heal it. I can remember to carry the Earth in my mind and heart and allow it to influence how I live on this planet."
With this awareness, gently come back down to earth, this new “Earth optimism” pulsing through you. There are solutions you can take with your fellow earth inhabitants to reverse the climate crisis.
Gradually bring your awareness back to the place where you are sitting, with your feet squarely on the ground. Look around you at the nature nearby. Take a few deep breaths, holding the idea, as taught by Thich Nhat Hanh, that “you carry Mother Earth within you.”
Take a moment to notice how you feel. What new insights did you touch in yourself? What new openings did you create in yourself? What new ways are you moved to care for your earthly home?
Take a moment, if you feel moved, to write your thoughts in a journal.
“You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. In that kind of relationship, you have enough love, strength and awakening to change your life.” Thich Nhat Hanh
I’d love to know what’s grabbing your attention or what questions are running through your mind. Let me know in the comments section. I’ll respond in one of my blog posts.
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All the best,
Krista / Eco-Omi