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All articles here are written by Melinda Briana Epler (that's me!) unless otherwise noted. I'm a documentary filmmaker, writer, and brand experience designer - I've dedicated my life to living a sustainable lifestyle and helping others do the same. Please feel free to contact me if you have questions or thoughts for articles. Welcome!

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10 Ways Meditation is Green, Frugal, Healthy and Sustainable

I realized the other morning that there may be folks who wonder why meditation is something I’ve started mentioning at One Green Generation.  Meditation in our society is sometimes perceived as selfish, intangible, hippy-like silliness, time-wasting or… there are many other terms that could work here.  I’ll admit that I, too, had some of these misconceptions not too long ago.

But since I started a meditation practice a few months ago, I have come to understand how much it can play a role in our daily lives as we strive to be as sustainable as we can be.

If any of you are starting to wonder what meditation is and how it can play a role, or if you’re struggling to make it a part of your lifestyle, I hope this will help encourage you!!

How Mediation is Green, Frugal, Healthy and Sustainable

  1. It can take the place of or reduce medications that cost money, support the pharmaceutical industry and can become hazardous to our waterways and fish habitats.  This includes pain medication,  antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications, asthma and heart medications, and more.  (Obviously make sure to work with your doctor on this!)
  2. It brings about compassion within yourself that radiates far beyond you to other people and other living beings.  I personally believe compassion is one of the keys to people chosing to live sustainably.
  3. It increases productivity at work, at home, during daily tasks and in daily thoughts.  I’ve heard it several times, and I believe it’s true: meditation actually puts more time into your day.  If you put 30 minutes into meditation, you get at least 30 minutes back via increased productivity.  It’s shocking (and makes “I don’t have time for meditation” a weak excuse!)
  4. It strengthens relationships as you learn to pause before letting anger blindly strike, to listen more effectively and compassionately, and to become more intuitive and caring in your actions and reactions.
  5. You are more likely to think about the honest consequences before doing something – which can affect your health, your relationships, and the environment.
  6. It’s free psychotherapy – meditation can help you break through anxiety, depression, childhood issues, and, I’m finding, so much more…!
  7. It can make your community stronger. If you meditate with other people in your community, it ties you with stronger bonds to those around you, it brings you together so your compassion ripples outward with stronger effect, and it strengthens, deepens and helps sustain your own practice.
  8. It can reduce your desires for material things, and heighten desires for non-material experiences.  This may be a personal effect on me alone, but it is a strong effect: material things don’t seem to matter as much.  Plus I’m more likely to read a book, go for a walk, chat with my husband or do other energy-saving activities – rather than watch tv or do something that requires driving and/or money.
  9. It makes you more thankful for the beauty and insight around you, more aware of your surroundings, and happier while doing every day chores.  Being present in the moment has made it more fulfilling, calming and meditating as I do the dishes, make dinner, bake bread, even do my taxes.
  10. It facilitates becoming more involved in your community, even in small ways like saying “hello” as you walk by someone on the street, going into a local shop instead of a large chain store, gardening or going for a walk, volunteering, or finding your own other route for becoming involved. Because you have more time in your day, different priorities for your time, and more devotion to well-being.
  11. There is one more big one for me: it has helped me transcend my every day labors to understand my own potential, where I want to head with my life and my work, and how I might best go about it.  This doesn’t happen so much while meditating as it does afterward, in the open spaces in my mind that meditation has cleared for just such important thoughts.

My meditation practice is truly becoming richer by the day.  This is my personal list of ways I believe meditation strengthens our sustainable lifestyle – there are several other resources and studies out there that show the health benefits of meditation. When you start to delve into it, it’s pretty incredible what you’ll find!

What about you?

Did I miss anything?  Do you have a meditation practice of your own?

A Year About Me: Year Two

I’ve spent a lifetime of working to help others and save the world, often to the detriment of my own health and well-being. So in retrospect, I can’t believe I thought I’d be able to dedicate one full year to myself… and then feel completed.

It seems that this will be year two of the “year about me”!

To be clear, I don’t want to change my dedication to helping others and making a large impact. In fact, if there is one thing I’ve learned in the last year, it’s that taking care of myself makes my work with and for others MORE effective.

2011 The Year About Me: Nurturing and healing my body

I made vast improvements to my health, the result of which is that I am only taking one asthma medication (from a high of seven medications at one point), I am gluten free, I have significantly decreased my waist size, I have fewer migraine headaches, I am regularly exercising and doing breathing exercises (pranayama) to increase lung capacity and decrease stress. I’m also finally learning how to relax. These are among many other improvements.

This quest for bodily awareness, nurturing, and healing is of course not over – but several things are put into motion so that I can focus on the next layer of my own well-being.

2012 The Year About Me: Nurturing and opening my mind

Compasssion

In the beginning of this year, I picked an outgoing word and an incoming word that help describe my vision for 2012. The outgoing word: judgment. The incoming word: compassion. Out with judgment, in with compassion.

As I began thinking and reading more about compassion, I quickly realized that compassion has a solid root and foundation in self-compassion. Without self-compassion, compassion for others falls flat. Without self-empathy, I don’t believe you can feel deep empathy for another being. (There are likely many layers to this equation – for instance, self-knowledge is a large part of self-empathy…. and so on.)

Early Results

Already I’ve noticed that in devoting time to nurturing my mind – namely with meditation and “breath walking” – I have been able to work more efficiently, and I have been able to see the bigger (strategic) picture of my work more readily. I’ve become a better interviewer when I’m creating documentary films. I’ve become a better strategic thinker when I’m working with my startup clients. I’ve become more creatively inspired when working on graphic design or brand storytelling. And I’ve even become a more pleasant person in basic interactions with strangers – like at the grocery store, at a networking event or just walking down the street.

They are little changes: it’s not like I’ve become fundamentally different person! But many things that I do take a little bit less effort to accomplish, and I feel like I’m accomplishing them just a little bit better than I was even a few months ago.

By nurturing my mind, I believe I’m becoming more effective at nurturing the world. This is similar to last year: by nurturing my body, I found I was less focused on pain, pharmaceuticals and just getting through the day.

And the most amazing thing is that my pain has improved even more as I nurture my mind. Half of meditation for me at the moment is exploring the many layers of bodily relaxation. (The other half is exploring mind relaxation.) As a result, there have been a few moments when I’ve realized that I am feeling no pain at all – anywhere in my body. It’s incredible, almost surreal.

How does this impact One Green Generation?

I don’t know what this year has in store, but I will share it with you! One of the ways I’ve found throughout the years to nurture and open my mind, is to write. I am a writer, and the times in my life when I have regularly fed my writing instincts are the times when I have transformed most.

Thank you for your encouragement!

I still receive regular emails asking me questions, thanking me for writing, and hoping I’ll return soon. Without my writing much lately, each day there are still about 2,500-3,000 of you who visit to look through the archives! So this is a community I hope to more actively nurture again.  It would be amazing if we could help one another more along our sustainable journeys.

It will be a process getting back to it: letting myself have the time for writing regularly again. But I believe it will happen. Feel free to prod me via email or comments if you see I’m absent for a while here. :)

And thank you all for your continued emails and comments. They mean a great deal, and I’m glad to have helped some of you along your own journeys.

And how are you?

How is your year going? How are you progressing with your hopes and dreams for the year, and for your life? Are you on a path that nurtures you?

All those of you who have done some of this self-exploration and self-nurturing, please recommend any resources that have helped you! I may benefit from your recommendations, as may other readers here.