What Does Going Green Mean to You?

As a kid, saving the planet meant trading in pop bottles for money. As a teenager, it was keeping the blue box under the sink and teaching my dad how to compost. I felt so superior to be the only one in my group to take my own water bottle and coffee mug when I travelled. Next came the cloth grocery bags and biodegradable laundry detergent, and recently it’s the conversion of lawn into garden. Although these tendencies are all very good and kinder to the earth, there comes a point when I need to stop skimming the surface and take the plunge to go deep. What are the reasons behind my consumer desires? What hole is being filled by busyness and cash spending that I am not accurately addressing?

When I first started practicing yoga it was all very simple. I had my mat, an old neck tie for a strap, a $12 cotton tank top and boxer shorts. Here I am several years later with more props than I need, drawers full of expensive yoga wear and shelves overflowing with books, DVD’s, and binders of resource material. How unfortunate that this seemingly minimalistic lifestyle turned into its very own room in my home.

In the study of yoga, Svadhyaya means becoming close to oneself, through meditation and self-exploration. The name itself explains the meaning – “Sva” meaning self and adhyaya meaning “inquiry” or “examination.” It refers to knowing more and more about oneself, intentionally. This rule teaches us to give up destructive tendencies. It teaches us to be centred and non-reactive to the dualities, to burn out the unwanted and self-destructive tendencies. In the words of Gary Kraftsow, “When we use the yoga practice of Svadhyaya –self-reflection – effectively, our actions become much more than a way to achieve something external; they become a mirror in which we can learn to see ourselves more deeply. If we are willing to look at behaviours, motivations, and strategies we habitually use to maintain our own self-image, we can use Svadhyaya to pierce through the veil that this self-image creates and into the nature of our own essential being.” In other words, to straighten the crooked we first must do a harder thing and straighten ourselves.

This approach need not only apply to matters of the spirit. It can act as an inner navigator to give direction to our lives. How will this action affect the planet and my children? What are my responsibilities? What are my priorities? So often in our lives we exist on autopilot. Caught up in the momentum of our daily lives that we fail to check-in and see if our actions are coming from our own thoughts and the directions that we want to head. One way to combat this cycle of busyness is by spending time in nature.

Nature is not too busy. It very happily plods along at a steady and manageable rate. It takes only what it needs, and it always gives back. It is therefore in our nature to pause and be still. To have a quiet cup of tea in an effort to get to know yourself. If life becomes so hectic that we have no time to “stop and smell the roses,” why will we care if the roses are gone? Our understanding of why we distract ourselves from looking in the mirror will have far more of a long-term effect on global conditions than recycling the milk jug. It’s not enough to meet ourselves at the end of an era of consuming in one way, shape or form and pat ourselves on the back because we’re off to take a trunk load of boxes of unwanted items to the Salvation Army.