Spirituality gives us a proper perspective of our place in the universe, and eliminates any ideas of being superior or inferior. It is also said to be about seeking a meaningful connection with something bigger than yourself, which can result in positive emotions, such as peace, awe, contentment, gratitude, and acceptance.
So how does one connect spirituality to nature, climate change and also to the cause and impact of COVID19 in our lives; as climate shapes culture, and culture shapes spirituality.
Here is a short list on how you can impact your surrounding by being spiritual.
1. Being Mindful
Chapter 6 of Bhagvad Gita talks about Dhyan Yog , and how to control your mind.
“Elevate yourself through the power of your mind, and not degrade yourself, for the mind can be the friend and also the enemy of the self.” (6.5)
Mindfulness is the intentional, accepting and non-judgemental focus of the emotions, thoughts and sensations occurring in the present moment. Scientifically speaking Neuroscientists think that mindfulness can literally rewire our brains. Mindfulness can not only change how we think about the social and environmental crises that affect our world, but can also help us to take the actions needed to build a more sustainable society.
Start by being more mindful about the habits you have formed over the years that may be negatively impacting your environment. Ecoanxiety is now a reality, and can stem from feeling helpless about the climate. The best way to deal with it, is by being more mindful and training your mind to being rational (through meditation and detachment ) as you align your actions to your values.
2. Being Minimalistic
Minimalist, is a very new word for a very old concept, Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Spirituality in minimalism is about direct experience and realizations; it’s about realizing how to be peaceful and happy with what you have or less—not more. While we have the concept of Sanyas (renouncement) in every major religion related to the sadhus or saints who have renounced everything, we can interpret it is as renouncement from worldly processions while still being in realm of the society.
In this era of consumerism, our minds and lives have been cluttered with unnecessary things which has led to more wastage, especially the use and throw mentality during this pandemic which has now created a whole new problem for climate warriors. Minimalistic approach helps to declutter our minds, prioritize, eliminate emotional burden and create a healthier living environment.
3. Question Status quo and act on it
In Bhagvad Gita Arjun is puzzled by the apparent incongruity of events in Shree Krishna’s statements. He questions everything from the purpose of the war as knowledge is superior to action (Chapter 3, Verse1-2) to Shri Krishna’s claim of teaching the science of Yog to Sun- god (Chpater 4, verse 4).
Infact, spiritual path encourages one to introspect and question the social conditions. We have easily accepted the current state of affairs around us, those who question strive to get answers and those answers help make a better world. Allowing the current state of affairs around you, good or bad, to influence your life and the environment without any accountability leads to authoritarian social pyramid.
4. Connect to all forms of life
While it is undoubtedly true that other animals “feel” their connections with the rest of nature, humans are probably unique in their ability to abstract, symbolize, and objectify this feeling often in this process actually losing the comfort of the more basic intuitive feelings. We are certainly the only animal to formally codify spiritual concepts and produce organized and ritualized spiritual/religious practices.
While hiking miles and miles for the view from the hills is all the rage, it also questions on how we treat the life around us. Disrupting the peace of nature again by leaving our trail behind. More and more new age families have embraced the green in their high rise metropolitan apartments. Animals and Plants have the unique ability to communicate with us through non verbal cues. Quite few of “natural disasters” are a result of man-made exploitation.
So yes, as we are all surrounded by concrete jungles and electronic DNAs we need to embrace the nature and any life we can connect to, birds animals plants. Spiritualism helps understand the Prana (breath/life) within us and beyond.
5. Practicing Yoga
As a yoga practioner, I have had firsthand experience on what spiritual transformation can this practice be. Now we all know that Yoga is more than the physical practice of Asanas. But the easiest way to develop more empathy is by practicing asanas. They help us collect our thoughts and generate a need to get deeper not just in our practice but also lead a more meanigful and impactful life.
One may notice, most yoga practitioners even in west lead a more environment conscious life. The practice of Asana leads us to understanding the sutras of Patanjali. Infact the second chapter, Sadhana Pada , refers to spiritual practice explaining the The 8 limbs of Yoga (Ashtanga Yoga) which are Yama (ethical conducts), Niyama (self dicipline), Asana (yoga postures), Pranayama (breath control), Pratyahara (withdrawal of the senses), Dharana (concentration), Dhyana (meditation) and Samadhi (absorption).
We know that we are complex human beings with many layers including the physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental bodies. But all layers of our being are interconnected and interdependent.