Green Living: We’re All Connected
The color green symbolizes growth, life, and hope in many of our worldwide traditions. In Mother Nature’s brilliant, alive tapestry, the crops are good and there is hope for the future. I have always been an optimist, and I treasure the myriad expressions of natural beauty in life: sunrises, sunsets, rainbows, mountains, oceans, and deserts. I am touched by the small and huge acts of generosity and kindness I have experienced and witnessed because these acts speak to me of our incomparably fragile and beautiful connectedness. I recognize that we are all vitally connected!
I will never forget the response from a woman in a shopping mall, when I simply opened the door for her. She looked depressed and preoccupied as she walked toward me, and when I held the door open for her, she smiled and softly said, "Thank you." I smiled and said, "My pleasure." She stopped dead in her tracks, turned around, and backed up to look at me. The look on her face was incredulous. It was like she had never experienced an act of kindness before.
Be Kind to Our Environment
In our physical environment, green living expresses values such as:
Some time ago I read about a mindboggling example of the impact our actions do have. In the U.S. it is our routine practice to load tons of garbage onto barges and dump this garbage in the ocean off the coast of Africa. I can only say I hope we’re not still doing that anywhere! The way we live our lives makes a difference! We are delicately, intricately interconnected with everything and everyone in our universe!
I’m reminded of the beautiful motto of the Iroquois Confederacy: “In our every deliberation, we must consider the impact of our decisions on the next seven generations.” This beautiful motto reminds us that our thoughts, words and actions are powerful. What we think, say, and do literally come into manifestation. With our thoughts, words, and actions we create our lives, so it is in our best interests to be mindful and to pay attention to the world we’re creating.
Research done in the field of psychology over the last thirty years revealed some powerful and fascinating examples of how green-living values--recognizing our connectedness--affect our emotional environment. Some research efforts have now switched to a focus on what is called positive psychology; spearheaded by Dr. Martin Seligman. Rather than the illness focus of the last 150 years, his research focuses on “exploring and enhancing virtues such as creativity, courage, integrity, self-control, leadership, wisdom, and spirituality.” The three pillars of positive psychology are: (1) positive subjective well-being, (2) positive character, and (3) positive groups, communities, and cultures.
This research adds a new dimension to the medical and psychological research of the past. It clearly indicates that people with optimistic attitudes and outlooks have fewer illnesses and outlive their pessimistic counterparts. Now we can literally see the results of our attitudes through the imaging capabilities of the PET scan as it shows us where the different areas of the brain register the impact of our acts of kindness, generosity, and anger. Our inner and outer environments mirror the impact of our actions!
The many levels of our vibrant interconnectedness are being expressed in the training and practices going on in our medical schools. The age-old practice of working seventy-two hours straight with no sleep is being discontinued as the body-mind-spirit interconnectedness is more widely recognized. Research clearly indicates a marked reduction in our capacity to function when we are sleep deprived. Sleep is restorative, and we need to sleep on a regular basis.
Current statistics show that over 60 percent of our medical schools now teach the blending of spirituality and medicine. Holistic healing, “hands on” healing, preventative medicine that focuses on maintaining wellness, and learning how to listen and communicate compassionately and effectively, are all part of the teaching curriculum in Western medical schools. Even the impact of prayer on patients’ speed of recovery is being researched in carefully controlled scientific studies. It is felt that prayer changes not only our attitudes of hopefulness or despair; prayer changes us at a cellular level!
We have come to realize that when the body or mind is ill or well, it is a function of our connectedness with our spirit. When we feel uplifted and hopeful we heal faster. We are reaping the benefits of recognizing and treasuring our vibrant interconnectedness as a unified body-mind-spirit wholeness. This change recognizes our body-mind-spirit connectedness and our connectedness to each other as we work together to bring an attitude of wholeness to how we live and work together.
Be Kind to Your Neighbors Everywhere
Green living also extends into our physical, emotional, political and spiritual understanding of our neighborhood, and it extends far beyond our immediate surroundings. We are invited to extend the concept of green living far beyond our immediate personal concerns to vibrantly engage in the healing of our precious planet Earth on every level.
I am so encouraged by the global efforts I see moving us in the direction of a generous, passionate, hope-filled effort to help and heal our entire world. By our choices we can either regard each other or we can destroy each other. Einstein movingly tells us of his reaction to this choice when he said, “If I had known what they were going to do with this knowledge I would’ve become a carpenter.” Einstein made this statement after the atomic bomb was used for the first time.
As we move toward global recognition of our interconnectedness it seems we are invited to consider how far our hearts and minds and spirits can take us. Perhaps we feel invited to consider if, when, and how the fields of religion and science intersect: never, always, or sometimes. With the advent of the information flowing from the fields of quantum physics and beyond, it seems we stand on the threshold of a dynamically pulsating new vision of who we are. These advancements make me wonder how much more intelligent our hearts will become! What other boundaries will we be meeting, considering, and crossing? What other dynamic blends of body-mind-spirit connectedness will we be discovering? What questions will our discoveries compel us to ask and answer? With our seeming technological advancements the key question for us might be what will we discover about the power and necessity of love? It is no secret that love is transformative. It is no secret that love is healing. Can we teach people to love? What other biological connections to love will we discover? People who seem to have no capacity or will to love, what are the boundaries there for intervention? Is there more to it than changing attitudes and beliefs; more to it than healthy, peaceful social relationships and structures; more to it than political systems based on cooperation and mutual respect? Where will this cosmic love take us? Is that our next threshold to explore?
It seems to me that the boundaries and horizons of green living values are as far reaching as our hearts, minds, and spirits can take us. As we continue to explore our conscious living capacity, our oneness with the natural rhythms and cycles of nature and each other, we step out into a flexibility, strength, resilience, and transformative love that is beyond anything we presently imagine. From this loving, wholehearted, generous vantage point I propose that there is room for everyone and everything in our precious Universe. There is room to embrace our heritage as caretakers. There is room to move beyond war and violence and fear. There is room to embrace a worldview that cherishes the old and the new. There is room to embrace and cherish a worldview that teaches us we do not have to destroy a culture in order to progress. We are generous enough to embrace and cherish paradox and cultivate the lessons and blessings we need to learn. I propose that there is more than enough room to lovingly embrace, encourage and cherish each other in our vibrantly, interconnected, shared Universe! I know this is true because I have experienced this level of loving generosity so many times in my lifetime. One such example is a man I had the great honor and joy of meeting in the 1980s. He was internationally known psychologist and writer Dr. Leo Buscaglia. Known to many as Dr. Love, Buscaglia radiantly epitomized the living spirit of love and generosity. The huge auditorium where he spoke was completely filled. People waited for hours to be hugged by him. He had said it was always his practice to hug everyone who wanted to be hugged wherever he spoke because he so believed in the power of loving people. I waited for my turn to hug him and to be hugged by him. When our eyes met I was thunderstruck. I “knew” he most definitely walked his talk. I could feel the love emanating from his presence. It was like looking into the eyes and heart of infinity. It was like we had known each other for all of eternity. This transformative example and many more like it are why I am so passionately devoted to green living; to living an optimistic, joy-filled, generous, caring, hope-filled life. Blessings to you, fellow traveler! I recognize my connection with you!
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