Hi there! Sat nam. Namaste. My name is Lexi, or Nav Taran Kaur. Thank you for reading this.
I greeted you with some yogi ways of saying hello, but it doesn’t really matter what kind of yoga you practice, or if you even practice yoga at all. What matters is you’re a decent human being (or working on being one) and you’ve come across this article. After all, everything happens for a reason, they say.
When you take time to step back and take a look at what the world is like in this millennia, our world is a world’s away from being united. Almost every major part of the world is experiencing chaos and conflict. In fact, we don’t need to look too far – just turn on your social media and see the news, or look around with critical eyes. The divide between rich and poor in our country just keeps getting wider. Everyone is sucked-in to their smart phones and are forgetting personal connection and interaction. It seems horrible acts of violence occur every month somewhere in the world whether it’s ISIS or not. Not to mention, the state of our environment! One third of our earth’s land is acutely degraded due to industrial agricultural practices and we’re filling up our oceans with plastic while we’re finishing up our seafood supply. Food security is on the brink of collapse while our world’s population is growing and growing.
What is happening to our world?! What are we doing to our planet, our one and only home?! What are we doing to ourselves as a human race?! Things NEED to change, and they need to change for the better. With the divide, chaos and disunity we’ve created, how can we make it better even in our own simple way?
Now before we become hopeless and sink in despair, (because its easy to get dragged down by the sad realities of our world,) let’s take a deep breath in.
As someone who practices yoga, I often wonder, how can I take this awareness “beyond the mat”? How can I work on living life as a more awake and more conscious human being and actually make things better? I’m still far from getting things right because no doubt is this conscious life a work-in-progress. But I know this much: if more of us try to work on it, then we can achieve results, better than what we see today. And as cheesy as it sounds, if we work together, many believe magical things can happen.
For this holiday season, I’d like to share some simple things I’ve picked up from my reflections on the mat that will hopefully bring more love, compassion and kindness to our world (or even just our own little circles and communities). These are my ways of living and loving a more conscious life for our planet and our fellow beings in it.
1. PRACTICE SELF CARE
This is where the yoga or any daily practice of self-care comes in handy. If we want to help our planet or our fellow beings in it, we first have to make sure we ourselves are full enough to give. As they say, we can’t pour from an empty cup. To keep that cup full, we need a daily practice of self-care that nourishes us with feelings of love, patience, and grace (which can all be found within ourselves). Personally, we need to make sure our personal supply is high on a daily basis. Whether it’s from yoga, or another form of meditation, exercise, or a simple walk, it’s vital we take the time to fill our own cups. This way we’re certainly feeling good enough to give. And what we’ve been taught as kids and what we’re realizing to be true is that the more we give, the more and more we receive.
2. SHARE YOUR POSITIVE ENERGY
Camp Aguinaldo, November 2013, for Typhoon Yolanda
“When you feel good about yourself, that positive energy translates throughout the rest of your life”. – Kathryn Budig
What is close to your heart? Who do you want to give to? Who can you reach out and spread your positive energy to? Is it the environment? Animals? People? Giving doesn’t have to be so hard or even a lot at first; give from what you can and what is close to your heart so serving feels more authentic. It’ll also be more fun and fulfilling for you!
It was around my birthday when Super-Typhoon Yolanda hit. I, together with family and best friends, in lieu of a celebration, brought over homemade monggo soup to the refugee center in Camp Aguinaldo and distributed it and listened to the stories of survivors affected by the super typhoon. It was devastating to hear, it didn’t feel like anyone’s birthday. But it gave a healthy sense of perspective. Even they were just happy to be alive and to be listened to. It’s been one of the more memorable and meaningful birthdays yet.
3. BE A WARRIOR FOR THE ENVIRONMENT
Be a warrior for the environment because my God, do we need more! If you’re living in this city, it can be quite challenging to recycle and segregate our huge amounts of wastes. But here are quick and simple everyday ways of being green-minded and ecologically-conscious that my friends and I practice:
Stuff your irreusable sando bags, sachets, plastic buds, cling wrappers, etc, in plastic water bottles. The Plastic Solution that started this ‘eco-brick’ movement aims to get public awareness of the amount of plastic we’re all using, at the same time prevent these pieces from getting into the canals, rivers, and oceans. These stuffed plastic bottles called eco-bricks have been used to build classrooms and covered courts. The Plastic Solution’s objective for creating them is to be time capsules before we finally have a plastic recycling plant in our country. Currently, it’s already serving a purpose of creating plastic awareness and preventing them from being in places where they shouldn’t be.
b) DON’T LEAVE HOME WITH THESE BAG ESSENTIALS!
What I make sure to have in my purse or backpack with me at all times: a water bottle or tea tumbler, an extra bag (as a shopping bag), my wooden reusable utensils, and a kitchen towel. Why a kitchen towel? It’s a great container for bread, pastries, or wraps that I might get at a coffee shop so I can skip the paper bag. A reusable container may work as well but that can be bulky.
c) JUST SAY NO!
Refuse plastic wrapping, straws, and over-packaging. Just say no. Find another place to put it, ask for a carton box, opt for what does not come in plastic, or just take your drink without a straw. Plastic is just not worth it anymore. Especially in our already clogged cities, our once pristine beaches, and all over our never-ending sachet-society.
4) ORGANIZE A CLOTHES SWAP
This is a great way to get new pieces into your wardrobe without spending a buck or supporting fast fashion. Millions of pounds of textile scraps go to waste each year just from cutting patterns. We’re also more aware of the sweat-shop working conditions behind some of our (once) favorite cheap brands. Clothes swaps allow us to get new pieces in, get rid of unwanted ones, share stories, and enjoy a different activity with old and new friends.
Kapwa Studio in Poblacion, Makati has Sell and Swap events in their studio space every first and third Sundays of the month!
5) BE A RESPONSIBLE CONSUMER
Know where your produce/products are coming from. We have much power as consumers especially if we make the mindful and conscious choice. We can opt for cleaner, local, organically grown fruits and vegetables versus chemically laced produce from industry farms even if that means they are sometimes cheaper. Think long-term. Less chemical inputs have better, healthier effects on our soil which means better, healthier effects for us. We can also choose to support local brands and businesses versus cheap goods from China because local businesses and social enterprises provide fairer opportunities to their employees. Gawad Kalinga (www.gk1world.com/NewGKonomics) has a long list of social enterprises now that give livelihood to low to middle class families in urban and rural areas.
The upcoming holidays call for buying gifts. What meaningful gifts with less packaging can we give to our loved ones? Quality time, labors of love? If material, can we forego the gift-wrapper and choose newspaper and magazine pages, or recycled bags from last year instead? How about the gift of life through some beautiful potted plants?
6) FOR THE WOMEN READING THIS, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
My last tip is for my fellow women. Listen to your body and menstrual flow. Irregularities or discomforts during the flow are signals from our body that something is off-balanced. Most of the time we’re exerting too much energy when we’re not supposed to or are not expanding during the right times. Read this article by Dona Tumacder-Esteban who is a specialist on women’s health and wellbeing. She explains thoroughly the different phases we go through and what each phase needs. I believe this is the first step as a woman to get to know and understand our unique gifts and get to ride the ebbs and flows of our flow so it can fully support us. It is after all our gift and power as a woman to be able to create life.
On that note, consider buying a menstrual cup to reduce my sanitary pads that go off to the landfills. I’m excited to try this out and use in the succeeding months for less and less wastes! Sinaya Cup is so far the only local brand of menstrual cup and each purchase makes a donation of another cup for another in need.
There you go! We are all connected and part of this one fabric on this one and only planet we have. What we put out there we definitely get back — both in kind and not so kind ways. I hope we all become more conscious of what we put out there. Writing this has allowed me to reflect and check on how I’ve been doing and where I can improve. Thank you for being open to my sharing. I hope you take what resonates with you and together we can make our planet, our country, or even just our communities a little bit brighter and healthier one conscious act at a time.
Lexi is a vinyasa yoga teacher, mama to lovely little pups and our resident health foodie. She recently came back home to Manila from Switzerland were she studied more about sustainable development. She is currently taking her Kundalini Teacher Training.