Can we fight the climate crisis with meditation?
EU officials in Brussels are being trained to meditate to help them ‘apply mindfulness’ in tackling the climate crisis with politics, using Buddhism-inspired practice – and it’s seeing positive results
image Sunrise Movement
words Eve Walker
EU officials are being trained to practice mindfulness in an effort to fight against climate change. Perhaps this may seem far-fetched, but by taking walks in the woodlands and attending meditation sessions, the courses are designed to make the decision-makers and negotiators feel a deeper connection to nature. This bond with the wild could lead to a greater empathy for plants and animals, which in theory could fuel passion and creative, urgent thinking to protect the environment.
A report following a collaborative research project by the Mindfulness Initiative and the Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies highlights the “lack of conscious connection with ourselves, with others and with the world we share” that is needed to invoke real change on both a local and global level. It proposes mindfulness as the key ingredient to restoring an appreciation for nature alongside humanity’s collective health, showing the “vast inner potential to activate outer change.”
Early results from the courses are looking seriously positive too, already indicating that the 80 participants have become more motivated in the fight against climate change, encouraging the officials to foster “both greater resilience and more appropriate responses to global sustainability crises”. Leaders equipped with the skills learnt from practising mindfulness will have a greater ability to deal with the complexities of the sustainability crisis.
Without proper legislation and regulations, there is only so much that can be done. Ultimately, the power to enforce global change before it’s too late lies with more than just the everyday choices of individuals – corporations and governments should be held accountable. The idea of a “carbon footprint” was coined by an advertising firm working for a big oil company. By shifting the blame of climate change onto members of society, it took pressure off the very companies who are destroying the planet and the legislation in place to protect the economy rather than prioritise the environment.
That’s not to say we should give up. Individuals can – and should – tackle the climate crisis however possible, and eco-conscious choices undoubtedly add up. The sheer power in our choices can be seen through what companies have started to implement in recent years to meet the demand of consumers; vegan options are now widely available virtually everywhere, more and more companies are starting to use eco-friendly materials, and clothes returned to some fast fashion brands like Asos are resold rather than tossed.
On top of doing our bit to live more sustainably, it is vital to push for transformation at the source. Collective action is needed to demand real systemic change in policy and laws, and maybe mindfulness is a missing piece of the puzzle. Eco anxiety is a growing problem, and can lead to people feeling overwhelmed and even apathetic towards climate emergency. Grassroots activists, as always, are pushing for climate action, and can be a great place to start if you’re feeling anxious about how to fight the good fight. Check out; the Sunrise Movement, a youth collective whose work is rooted in local communities; Swop it up, an organisation led by young people aiming to spread climate education (and organises great initiatives like clothes swaps); and even more local efforts, like sustainable textile designer and activist Ophelia Dos Santos who runs community workshops in Wales.