52 Weeks of Mindfulness

Week 20/Interconnectedness: My Soul Recognizes Your Soul

Jack Kornfield, a teacher and author in the Vipassana movement, acknowledges in the above-mentioned quote a phenomenon called “limbic resonance”, a state in which two mammals become attuned to each other’s emotional states.  Modern neuroscience and the neurobiology of attachment are beginning to uncover the importance of interconnectedness. Combined with psychology, we now know the ancient practice of mindfulness combined with loving awareness has the ability to enhance not only our wellbeing, but also that of our fellow human.

We all have a need to be seen and cared about without threat or judgment. In fact, this need is critical to developing a sense of safety in relationships, as well as a sense of belonging and being loved. We are seeing record numbers of individuals suffering from depression and anxiety. As a therapist and mindfulness practitioner, I feel both deeply concerned and committed to understanding the causes of this profound sadness. A sense of separateness or alienation from other living beings is often at the root of this deepest form of human suffering. Despite the wisdom of unity, that all beings are connected, (even modern quantum physics is confirming this as truth), many people carry a felt sense of disconnection and loneliness.

For those that do not struggle with this particular issue, I invite you to acknowledge that others do feel this way.  Using our compassion and understanding, we can validate the experience of another that is suffering.  We can actually see their suffering, acknowledge that we see it and sense how it is the same suffering that all humans feel if they are abandoned, chronically lonely, or feel unloved and unseen.  When we take time to see others completely, just as they are, we are offering our love and compassion. This offering vibrates in the hearts of others (similar to the violin in the quote) and creates a sense connection. This offers a glimpse of hope.

For those who do feel profoundly disconnected, lonely, or unloved, there is a path of freedom from this suffering. Although it may not be visible from your current vantage point, if you begin to take small mindful steps in your daily life, you will begin to feel some hope. This felt sense of hope is not freedom, but encouragement to take up the path of daily practice.

A teacher once taught that our paths are all littered with the debris of being human. Some piles are enormous and obscure the truth, also known as the path. These piles take great effort and help to clear.  This initial clearing can come in many forms, including psychotherapy, spiritual devotion, and meditation training. Sadly, one can live a lifetime under piles of rubbish, blinded from seeing the signs all around them pointing to this perennial truth:

We are all connected. If the pile feels too big, too much, or impossible, just take the first step and get help and support.

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Week 19/SAVOR: Discovering the Extraordinary in the Ordinary

After maintaining a consistent mindfulness practice,  you may begin to notice what feels like a slowing-down of time. Yes! Like time is actually moving slower! This, in fact, was the first and maybe even the most precious gift I received in my early days of practicing meditation regularly.  What a joy to have more time for things … imagine how much more I could accomplish!
 
What accompanied this sense of slowing-down, though, were an insatiable curiosity, a desire for stillness, and an overall sense of peace.  I found that while I felt time moving more slowly, I didn’t want to fold more laundry or organize more of my garage … rather, I wanted to see, hear, smell and feel the world around me in 3-D technicolor … I wanted to immerse myself in the beauty of others, nature and of all of life itself. I began to allow myself to drink in the freckled cheeks of my children and to linger in the scent of my lover’s freshly shaven face. Rather than devouring my meals in front of the TV, I began to deconstruct the complex flavors I’d spun together and reveled in the multi-sensory experience of my food. This desire to savor my daily experiences has led me to discovering so much extraordinary in the ordinary. And even more, I have begun to see opportunity where there seemed only roadblocks, connection where conflict might have been, and calm where there may once have been storm.
 
Savoring allows us to not just be fully present in the moment-to-moment experiences of life, but encourages us to lean into these experiences in order to encode memories for later retrieval. Additionally, research shows that humans tend to adapt to positive experiences really quickly, leading to the well-known “honeymoon” effect of intense joy about a joyful or positive event that quickly wears off.  When we attend intently and mindfully to these moments, science says we can extend these honeymoon phases of life, leading to more joy. It is the attention-grabbing nature of savoring what is pleasant that increases contentment and gratitude. And with our powerful tendency towards remembering and creating stories around negative experiences (aka the negativity bias) it is all the more valuable for us to take that extra few moments to wrap ourselves up in the beauty that is right now.
 
I encourage you to take the time to savor in your day-to-day life too, whether you practice mindfulness regularly or not.  Use this mnemonic to help you:
 

SAVOR 

Slow Down — intentionally move more slowly through your day when you can, allowing for the opportunity to notice more of what you encounter.
 
Attend — bring your awareness and attention to whatever you are doing or observing.  Use your senses to explore the experience fully.
 
Value — acknowledge the extraordinary in the experience and how your being present for it brings value to your life.
 
Open — allow for a sense of openness and willingness to see things from a new perspective or vantage point.
 
Reflect — once the experience has passed or ended, take an opportunity to call to mind what you experienced and see if you notice similar emotions arise.

Nicole Davis is a licensed clinical psychologist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches  Dr. Davis has received extensive training in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, and maintains her own personal practice in these as well.  At Sacred Treehouse, she facilitates group mindfulness courses, including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, and other mindfulness-based seminars and workshops. She also offers meditation & yoga classes at Sacred Treehouse.

Week 18/Allowing Pain & Suffering to Be Our Guides

Do you want to suffer less and have more happiness and contentment in your life? The word duhkha is a common word in Yoga and Buddhist philosophy – it translates as suffering. Most of us think that pain and suffering are synonymous, but what if I told you that one was actually optional?

Pain might be the experience of grief, sadness, anger and any other emotion or perhaps a physical experience of pain, but none of these are suffering. Pain is actually separate from suffering – we experience the physical or emotional pain of an event when it happens, but it is our RESPONSE to that pain, and our ongoing RELATIONSHIP with that pain, that leads to our optional suffering.

A common experience is when a parent/spouse/child – someone with whom you have an ongoing, intimate relationship – has done something in the past that has hurt you or made you angry. When it happens again in the present, instead of your current reaction being related to this single occurrence, it gets tied to all past events and emotions as well, leading to pain plus suffering. Then, there can even be anticipatory emotions about what might be coming – suffering for something that hasn’t even occurred! A less charged example is that you stub your toe hard and it really hurts! That’s pain. Now, though, you can’t exercise until it heals and you love and need your exercise; you’re very upset about this. That’s suffering.

Being free from suffering does not mean you are working toward not feeling, toward a somehow emotionless life; this is a misunderstanding. We experience and become a witness to our emotions, but we are NOT our emotions. They are discrete experiences, right here, right now. It’s not a denial of emotional pain, but a shift in perspective – it is what it is, as people now say, and nothing more.

It’s our attachment to what is pleasant, our aversion to unpleasantness, and our linking of experiences together that causes the suffering – the wanting and the pushing away. Allow the pain/emotion to rise, experience it, be a present witness to it, try not to identify with it, and then, be mindful to not feed it or let it get tied to anything other than this present moment. It takes practice, and acceptance is key! Hopefully, over time, this will help you create a different relationship with your pain.

Yours, in service, K.O.

Practice Steps:

  1. Notice the emotion or physical sensation that is present (the pain), like a worry or tension in the body.
  2. Pause – be curious about it. Make a conscious decision to look at it.
  3. Allow the feeling or sensation to fully rise up within you, being conscious that the feeling or emotion is simply an experience – try not to identify with it as anything other than an experience. Keep the experience to the “right now” moment and be conscious not to get caught up in the past.
  4. Observe any insight that might arise around the sensation or emotion. Be mindful to stay present in the “now” as an objective observer.
  5. Have compassion for the pain you are experiencing.
  6. Connect within yourself to a feeling of wholeness and spaciousness.
Kathy Ornish, c-IAYT

Kathy Ornish is a practicing and certified yoga therapist (c-IAYT) and a certified yoga teacher (E-RYT-500). She serves as Senior Faculty at Gary Kraftsow’s American Viniyoga Institute where she is Faculty Specialist in the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy. Kathy’s yoga therapy practice involves addressing individual’s structural, physiological, and emotional conditions. Her primary emphasis in all her teaching is the breadth of the yoga tradition using the appropriate application of the many tools of yoga in hopes that she can help people realize their highest potential.  Coming this Fall, KO will be offering workshops and one-to-one yoga therapy appointments at Sacred Treehouse. For more information, visit sacredtreehouse.org.  You may also visit her website at goodspaceyoga.com.

Week 17/Using Mindful Eating to Reconnect With Your Inner Wisdom

As a nutritionist, so often clients come to me anticipating I will tell them “what to eat” – sometimes they hope for it, sometimes they dread the idea.  However, I see my role very differently, one where I help them reconnect and build trust with their own internal wisdom.  

You see, we’re all born with the innate desire to nourish ourselves.  When given the opportunity to explore foods and provided food in a regular and timely manner, we tend to notice that certain foods give us quick, readily available energy, while others are more satisfying.  In other words, we are able to distinguish what our body needs when we give ourselves a chance to tune in and listen.  Each of us has our own hunger patterns, food preferences and dislikes, health needs and genetic predispositions.

By creating space to be truly mindful around the eating process, we find that our internal nutritionist guides us. Sometimes that nutritionist says “I need some veggies” and sometimes it clearly says, “I need some ice cream!”.  After mindfully acknowledging when we’re hungry, it can be helpful to close our eyes and tune into what we are hungry for.  Once we identify what we’re hungry for and give ourselves permission to eat it, we can sit, taste, chew, savor and enjoy each bite – allowing our internal nutritionist to let us know if the food is meeting our needs, and when we actually feel content.  

You see, our internal nutritionist isn’t simply about nutrition – it’s about allowing food to fuel our body, brain and soul.  So stay curious, connected and nonjudgmental as you explore what your internal nutritionist whispers to you!

Christie Caggiani is a Registered Dietitian and Nutrition Therapist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Her mindfulness-based, non-diet approach allows clients to identify, understand and move beyond their eating struggles, as they reconnect with their internal signals of hunger and satiety. She is passionate about teaching clients to eat intuitively and move joyfully.  For Sacred Treehouse, Christie has designed a series of fun and educational nutrition and cooking workshops for both children and teens. She also offers cooking and nutrition workshops for adults.

Week 16/You+Earth=BFFs

This upcoming Monday is Earth Day.  It is a day that easily gets lost in the shuffle, but truth be told, we need this day now more than ever before.  There is so much emotional suffering due to our disconnection from other humans, animals, and the earth.   This Earth Day, I invite you to read more about my own journey toward environmental stewardship, with the hope that you will cultivate your own relationship with our one and only Earth.

Being a mindful custodian of this planet began early in life for me, starting with awe and wonder for the creatures I discovered in my own backyard.  I was fascinated by lizards, bugs, and of course, my own furry friends. This awe and wonder was nurtured at Unity School during “Lessons in Living”, where we were taught lessons of being good stewards to our planet.

In high school, my love of nature and animals took on a whole new meaning when I studied environmental science. It was like a voice from within started to guide my path, leading me to spend my summers studying abroad in the sustainable summer learning program.  It was during this experience that I truly saw the miracle of nature and the wonders of our natural ecosystems.  This path led me to my current course of study: horticulture.

Through my various courses of study, I have learned an essential truth: humankind and the environment are interconnected AND our wellbeing is contingent on the health of the environment. This has fueled my passion to protect and learn from nature. This year, I challenge you to dig deeper than you ever have before by doing more, learning more, and making an even bigger impact to preserve our earth and all her creatures.

I had the pleasure of seeing Jane Goodall speak at Florida Atlantic University and was inspired by her book and teachings called The 10 Trusts.  I ask you to consider them now:

1. Respect all life
2. Live as part of the Animal Kingdom
3. Educate our children to respect animals
4. Treat animals as you would like to be treated
5. Be a steward
6. Value the sounds of nature and help preserve them
7. Do not harm life in order to learn about it
8. Have the courage of your convictions
9. Act knowing that your actions make a difference
10. Act knowing that you are not alone.

To help you on your journey, I am sharing some of my favorite resources below.  I also encourage you to attend Sacred Treehouse’s Discover the Wonders Open House event on Saturday, April 27th.  Join like-minded individuals and learn more about the services offered at Treehouse.

Happy Earth Day!

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Shutt is a student at the University of Florida.  She is passionate about all things green and currently participates in many forms of environmental advocacy, including the #Unlitter movement.  When she isn’t hitting the books, she enjoys cooking plant-based cuisine, composting, and surfing.

Week 15/Shining the Light to Find Our Way Home

No matter with whom I am working therapeutically, it’s inevitable that we end up making our way to the subject of suffering – physical, emotional, spiritual – and a route to becoming free from it. The temptation to ignore our thoughts, feelings, physical discomfort or pain is strong, and seems logical. But, if you simply build unpleasant experiences into a narrative or sweep the unpleasantness under the rug, you’ve sent it into the dark where, I believe, not only will it not get better, but it will actually grow. Is there another option that might instead decrease our difficulty? 

How do we “shine a light” on, i.e. see, what arises within us?

How do we have mindful, present awareness and become an objective observer of our own sensations, emotions, and thoughts?

How do we objectively observe the story that might arise when we look (which we might use to justify the attachment to this suffering)?

If feelings and/or stories arise, how do we look at, yet not identify with them?

How can we have compassion, kindness, and tenderness for ourselves in the face of this?

It is my strong belief, and my experience, that being an objective, compassionate witness to what is happening within ourselves not only doesn’t make what we are seeing worse, but actually decreases our reactivity, decreases the physical and emotional distress, and ultimately decreases the power of what arises!

I have a process I have started calling “shining a light.” Nothing out of our awareness (in the dark) will change. Only in the light will we become more aware of what causes our suffering and the truth of our divine nature.

Try this process:

1. Begin to notice when you have an uncomfortable bodily sensation, thought, or emotion that arises.

2. Then, “shine a light” on it – actively observe it with curiosity; try not to push it away.

3. See it, but don’t identify with or get grabbed by it. What does this mean? Look at what you see as if it’s not yours – no judgment, no wishing it different, no diving onto the story associated with it.

4. As one of my students asked, “What do you do with the stinker once you see it?” The habit to respond and dive in to the feelings and the story is strong, so if you feel it growing as you look, relax further, step back and observe more, and very important – have compassion for yourself.

5. It is through repeated looking with compassion that it begins to decrease its potency and reveal some insight.

This process takes time and practice, and perhaps a bit of courage, too! Each time you practice this, you will make your way, step-by-step, toward greater freedom. 

Yours, in service, K.O.

Kathy Ornish, c-IAYT

Kathy Ornish is a practicing and certified yoga therapist (c-IAYT) and a certified yoga teacher (E-RYT-500). She serves as Senior Faculty at Gary Kraftsow’s American Viniyoga Institute where she is Faculty Specialist in the Viniyoga Foundations Program for Teaching and Yoga Therapy. Kathy’s yoga therapy practice involves addressing individual’s structural, physiological, and emotional conditions. Her primary emphasis in all her teaching is the breadth of the yoga tradition using the appropriate application of the many tools of yoga in hopes that she can help people realize their highest potential.  For more information, please visit her website at www.goodspaceyoga.com

Week 14/I Am Grateful For ________! Life Through the Lenses of Gratitude & Mindfulness

I was on my way to pick up my daughter from school the other day, poking along in busy late afternoon traffic as I headed due west on a local major thoroughfare. I noticed the stop and go traffic, the day-to-day busyness, and the hustle to get from here to there (and back again). I popped on a tune from a playlist I made for my daughter, and while I waited for traffic to edge forward on its own time I took a moment to observe the way the sunlight broke through the low hanging clouds, as though the universe was reminding me that there’s always sunshine even when there is darkness. At that moment I felt deeply grateful for this life — the opportunity to show up present each day for my kids, the blessing of having reliable transportation, the joy of music, this moment of solitude, and the heartfelt knowing that I am connected to something bigger than myself. It still warms my heart to reflect back on the feelings felt that day.

Science has spoken loud and clear about the benefits of gratitude.  Beyond positively impacting life satisfaction and our overall sense of wellbeing, studies have shown that practicing gratitude can improve our relationships, physical health, and job performance.  Gratitude leads to feeling more able and effective, an increased ability to weather stress, and heightened optimism about the future.  Practicing gratitude builds resilience and connection with others and ourselves.

Mindfulness and gratitude go hand in hand. It is often reported that with a regular and consistent mindfulness practice comes an increased feeling of appreciation and gratefulness for the little things in life.  A gratitude practice, simply, is the practice of (1) paying attention, (2) reflecting upon what we are thankful for, and (3) expressing gratitude when the opportunity arises.  In addition to incorporating mindful awareness into your daily life, here are a few more ideas about how you might increase your felt sense of gratitude.

1. Gratitude Tracking

Setting aside a time each day to reflect on the blessings in your life not only brings joy and appreciation to that moment, but also retrains your brain to see the world through the lens of gratitude automatically. Tracking your gratitude may involve traditional journaling, or might be more creative or interactive, like having a gratitude jar or posting about gratitude on social media.  Consider adding a brief moment to reflect on all you are grateful for into your daily routine for one week and see what you notice!

2. Replacing “I am sorry” with “thank you”

We often find ourselves apologizing when we are late, forgetful, or under the weather.  Welcome to the human condition! What if each time we feel the urge to apologize, we instead shift to expressing our gratitude for the patience or understanding of a friend? Shifting from judgment to appreciation can have a huge impact on how we view ourselves AND our ability to connect on a deeper, more intimate level with others.

3. Write a Gratitude Letter

Not only does gratitude impact our own emotional wellbeing in a positive way, but it can also bring joy and connection with others when expressed.  Whether it be a small sticky note left on the desk of a colleague, a card in your child’s or partner’s lunchbox, or an email to a friend or family member who lives far away, sharing our gratitude is a gift for both ourselves and others. Making it a habit of saying thank you in ways both big and small is a powerful practice of love.

I don’t always connect with gratitude automatically, as I did on the day described in the above passage. Many days I am find myself swept up in “autopilot” mode, trying to navigate the hectic (and at times difficult and challenging) life I live. It is a practice, and one I am grateful to incorporate into my life.

Nicole Davis is a licensed clinical psychologist at Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches  Dr. Davis has received extensive training in mindfulness, meditation, and yoga, and maintains her own personal practice in these as well.  At Sacred Treehouse, she facilitates group mindfulness courses, including Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness Based Relapse Prevention, and other mindfulness-based seminars and workshops. She also offers meditation & yoga classes at Sacred Treehouse.

Week 13/A Teaching on Forgiveness

All relationships are fraught with difficulties.  They require us to develop the ability to forgive, reopening our hearts again so that we can love and trust. In teaching mindfulness meditation and working with clients in psychotherapy, I have observed that this is the most difficult part of the path to travel. Our natural reaction is to avoid pain. Sometimes we cross the path too quickly and end up bypassing the process of true forgiveness.  We find ourselves taking a convenient detour – only later to realize that the destination we find ourselves in is a mountain of unresolved pain. At other times, forgiveness is offered and it may feel complete until feelings of hurt, anger, or resentment arise and catch us by surprise.
 
I believe that Anne Lamott’s quote is talking about radical forgiveness. Radical forgiveness occurs when an individual has released themselves from the pain and suffering of holding onto the wish for things to be different. This complete and total letting go is not only difficult, it can seem utterly impossible in extreme life situations of abuse, death, neglect, dishonesty, theft, or infidelity. Forgiveness has the ability to unfold naturally as a person works through the traumatic pain or injury. I have seen many clients work through trauma, but stop short before reaching acceptance and forgiveness. This is a form of protection, like a shield one keeps up to prevent future harm.  These individuals deserve compassionate understanding from others, as well as the ability to practice self-compassion.
 
Many recovery groups enlist individuals to make a list of resentments.  The purpose behind this exercise is to facilitate the first step in recognizing and bringing the hurt to the surface. The path of forgiveness is not possible without feeling the original pain of hurt, betrayal, abuse, loss or disappointment. It requires the powerful presence of love and compassion toward oneself, as well as the guidance and support of others who have been through the process. This process reveals to the seeker that very little that is done to us is personal, but rather the result of complex causes and circumstances. This combination of courage to feel, combined with care, love, and mindful awareness allows the process of forgiveness to set our hearts free.
 
If someone has hurt you or a loved one, do not mistake this passage as a prescription to go through the steps to forgive. There is a readiness that must precede this process.  It is also recommended to have a guide to help you on this path. I invite you to simply open to the possibility or intention of one day freeing your heart through letting go. Mindfulness and self-compassion are excellent stepping stones to strengthen your capacity to feel the hurt, preparing your heart to open again.
 
With an open heart,
 

Patty

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Week 12/Are You Connected? Developing Awareness of the Body Through Mindfulness

Mindful awareness of the body can be both a formal and informal practice. The formal practice includes attending to the sensations of the body during meditation with curiosity, openness, and nonjudgment. This strengthens our awareness of the mind-body connection, improving the intrinsic ability to tune into our body’s wisdom. 

To emphasize the importance of this connection, I recall going to the doctor many years ago and being a poor self-reporter of what was occurring with my body. I relied on the doctor to diagnose my disease instead of paying attention to my symptoms. If I had been working on mindful awareness of the body, I could have seen early signs and symptoms of a condition that was unmanaged – existing for many years before this office visit. I was suffering unnecessarily from chronic fatigue, irritability, and depressed mood.  This experience showed me the importance of tuning into the body with mindfulness.

We all have the ability to develop this mind-body connection.  In daily life, we can turn our attention to the body when we are eating, walking, or participating in other routine activities.  The ability to pay attention and offer subtle adjustments can have a powerful impact on our emotional and physical wellbeing.  At any moment, we are able offer subtle adjustments to our posture, activity level, thoughts, or eating patterns.

To enhance this awareness, I recommend a daily formal practice of meditation.  By slowing down, we have a greater ability to maintain connection throughout the day with our bodies.  If you are new to this practice, a great place to start is with the Breath Meditation or Body Scan Meditation (see below).

If you have been out of touch with your body, you may experience some initial discomfort.  Practice gentle awareness and nonjudgment when new sensations arise. Stay the course! As the Buddha taught, mindfulness of the body leads to greater insights and wisdom.

 Breath Meditation
 The link below is a five minute breath meditation:


Body Scan Practice
Start simple with a 5-10 minute body scan.  You may complete this body scan lying down or sitting comfortably in a chair.

Begin by closing your eyes and taking a few deep breaths. Bring attention to the feet and noticing the sensations of warmth, coolness, pressure, tingling or maybe even numbness, without judging or wishing the feet to feel different. Just notice.

Once you have noticed the feet, bring your attention to other parts of the body. Notice your legs, hips, belly, chest, shoulders, arms, and hands.  Bring attention to face, neck, and head. As with before, notice the sensations of each body part.

End the body scan by sensing the body as a whole. Take a deep breath and when ready, open your eyes.

Patty Thomas Shutt, founder of Sacred Treehouse, is a licensed psychologist and co-owner of Therapeutic Oasis of the Palm Beaches Dr. Shutt is passionate about helping others discover the benefits of mindfulness and meditation.  She offers Beginner Meditation & Advanced Meditation classes at Sacred Treehouse, in addition to Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, Mindful Self-Compassion and various book studies throughout the year.

Week 11/Mindfulness in Action: Going Green

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day and all the green that will be donned this weekend, it is fitting to consider “going green” for an even greater purpose: the environment. Going green can be a great way to enhance your mindfulness practice. Noticing what you “can do” versus what you are unable to control is not just being a part of the solution, but it is also empowering. 
 
Making a sustainable lifestyle change is not something that occurs overnight.  Just as with mindfulness practice, it is important to practice acceptance of where you are in the present moment.  Incorporate each change gradually and know that it is not about being perfect in every aspect of your life. By putting forth effort and intention, you create new habits of thought while acting as an example to others in your community. The growth is exponential!
 
Here are a few green living tips to practice mindfully:

  • Grocery Shopping: When grocery shopping, bring reusable bags and use refillable jars to shop in the bulk section for grains, nuts, or flour.  Ditch the single use plastics!
  • Dining Out: BYOC – Bring Your Own Containers. Cut down on takeout waste by bringing your own container for leftovers.  Also bring your own reusable utensils and straw. (I always keep these items in my car or backpack.)
  • Kitchen: In the kitchen, use dish clothes or microfiber towels instead of paper towels and disposable wipes.
  • Personal Hygiene: Bamboo toothbrushes, metal razors, and soap bars are great alternatives to plastic and tend to be free of harmful chemicals. LUSH has a variety of great smelling hair and facial products that are zero waste.
  • Composting: If you aren’t composting, have no fear! Drop off your scraps to a neighbor or local garden.  Scraps can be stored in a freezer bag and dropped off when you have the time.
  • Thrifting: Old styles are back in! Check your local vintage and thrift stores for funky clothes.  Stylish threads at reasonable prices that also reduce environmental waste…a winning trio.
  • Consider a plant-based diet: Reduce your consumption of animal products (meat, eggs, dairy).  Let plant-based foods serve as the centerpiece instead of the side dish.  Bountiful health benefits come along with it too! Even one mindful meal makes a huge difference.

We are all in this together! It is important to be gentle with your practice. I do not follow these guidelines 100% of the time, but I do my best and lead by example to make this world a better place. Start your week off with by setting an intention of incorporating one green action from the list above.

May your green routines bring you much happiness and joy!
 
Pure Intentions,
 
Lizzie Shutt

Elizabeth “Lizzie” Shutt is a student at the University of Florida.  She is passionate about all things green and currently participates in many forms of environmental advocacy, including the #Unlitter movement.  When she isn’t hitting the books, she enjoys cooking plant-based cuisine, composting, and surfing.