Save Our Selves, Save Our Planet

May 13, 2021  by Dr. Suki Munsell
How obvious it seems to me now.

Saving ourselves through right action including diet, exercise, expressing gratitude, and other positive acts, are the very same actions that improve life on our planet.

“A deep awareness of the gifts of the earth and of each other is medicine,” writes Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass, Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teaching of Plants. “Each of us comes from people who were once indigenous. The practice of gratitude celebrates cultures of regenerative reciprocity, where health is understood to be having enough to share and riches are counted in mutually beneficial relationships. Besides, it makes us happy.”

Exercise is a modern invention. Walking, biking, and driving less is good for us and for the planet. Our bodies need activity to stay healthy. Bob Dylan reminds us “If you ain’t busy being born, you’re busy dying.”

“Fight climate change with diet change,” read the magazine ad that caught my eye when visiting New Zealand. 

 

Eating lower on the food chain – more vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds – and foregoing beef (which is trending) make us and the planet healthier. Our seafood choices matter in maintaining a healthy ocean.

Similarly, highly processed and packaged foods are not sustainable. (This is the one I struggle with the most – when I get restaurant or deli take-out, and potato chips.)

 

Practicing intermittent fasting boosts our energy and regulates weight naturally. It’s good for body and brain and can help us restore right relationship to food. “Contained within our teachings of One Bowl and One Spoon,” writes Kimmerer, “the gifts of the earth are all in one bowl, all to be shared from a single spoon. This is the vision of the economy of the commons, wherein resources fundamental to our well-being, like water and land and forests, are commonly held rather than commodified.

Using less electricity by turning off unneeded lights, not over-heating our home, and rising and retiring with the sun cycle, attunes us to our circadian rhythms. At night we sleep deeper in a cool room, we wake up recharged, and our brains function better.

As I reduced purchases to a minimum and stopped making impulsive, unnecessary, or emotionally driven choices, I moved closer to what has true value, like love, and hugs, and friendship. Like author Maxine Bedat, I had to come face to face with how I soothed myself with retail therapy. “It’s really stressful to live, accumulating all that stuff,” Bedat wrote in an interview with Bill McKibben. By documenting the life and death of a pair of jeans she uncovered “how the world is woven together and coming apart at the seams.”  Bedat directs the New Standard Institute, an N.G.O working to reform the fashion industry.

I’ve compiled this list of self/planet healing strategies from choices I’ve made and ones I still battle. You can no doubt identify your own. Taking daily actions keeps me focused on positive things I can do in the face of planetary devastation. I know that our collective choices matter. Growing a garden, planting trees, and shaking the hands at the Farmer’s Market that feed me helps to rebalance my relationship with nature.

 

Wendell Berry, prolific author, farmer, and environmental activist, wrote about the connection between the body and the earth in 1977 in The Unsettling of America: culture and agriculture. He chronicles the breakdown of small farming communities across America when food became commodified. He predicted the worsening of the environmental, health, and moral crises we face today.

“The concept of health is rooted in the concept of wholeness. To be healthy is to be whole. The word health belongs to a family of words …” heal, whole wholesome, hale, hallow, holy.

“While we live, our bodies are moving particles of the earth, joined inextricably both to the soil and to the bodies of other living creatures. It is hardly surprising, then, that there should be some profound resemblances between our treatment of our bodies and our treatment of the earth.”

What are the actions you will take today? 

“Action on behalf of life transforms,” Kimmerer councils us. “Because the relationship between self and the world is reciprocal, it is not a question of first getting enlightened or saved and then acting. As we work to heal the earth, the earth heals us.” Russell and I invite you to join our classes and learn tools that connect your inner and outer worlds. Build a grounding, centering, personal practice to live and age with Dynamic Vitality.

Our students tell us:

“Having this class as a touchstone
over the past year has been an absolute godsend.”

“It’s been my grounding to get through this spiritual opportunity.”

“How lovely to have a body and spend some time with it.
All the meditation in the world does not replace this aliveness.”

Immerse yourself in what you love,

Suki