Thursday, December 15, 2011

Energy Efficiency & the Green Practice Path


In my day to day work, I think a lot about energy conservation and efficiency in a traditional sense (using less electricity on campus, trying to fund projects like lighting retrofits).  In a different, spiritual sense Chogyam Trungpa, a Tibetan Buddhist meditation master, says the greatest energy loss comes from inner conflict between body, heart and mind. In essence, conflict is a waste of energy.
This thought returns to me often, especially at times when I glance askew at humongous SUVs,  berate myself for forgetting my reusable cloth shopping bags, or worse yet, when I run across yet another “Easy Tips to Living Green!” article.  If all this is supposed to be so easy, why is the world still so messed up?  Can mental energy spent on irritation and anxiety be reduced? Redirected??

In MindfullyGreen, Stephanie Kaza says that making truly meaningful changes is neither quick nor easy.  Nor should it be.  Enabling real change begins with an intention to come to terms with the harm that has been (and is being) done to the Earth, and with awareness of our emotional reactions to it.  In a compassionate and direct way, Kaza explains how our anxieties about our plight can be used to manifest healing and life changes “that will take us in a kinder direction, one that can sustain our lives as well as the rest of the life on Earth.” 
The process of fully experiencing the discomfort of our anxiety and other emotions (aka mindfulness) leads to deeper understanding of our values and adds clarity to our thinking.  Further, by thinking more deeply about our choices of what to eat, what to buy, and how we use our energy (including our OWN), we can move toward peace - peace with ourselves and, most importantly, with others. 
Kaza coined the term "Green Practice Path" to suggest that change involves intention to keep going, keep learning, knowing that real change is slow and difficult, but we have lots of company on the journey.

The final chapters are devoted to drawing the connection between peace and the environment, saying that conflict causes harm.  This is most obvious in wars, but it's also true for smaller, inner conflicts.  Learning how to create peace within ourselves - to be compassionate with ourselves - allows us to feel greater compassion for others.  This, says Kaza, is the way to create the healing that we, and the Earth, need so much.
Next time you start to grumble silently at someone loading cases of bottled water into their gas guzzler, take a moment to think about how you want to use your energy most efficiently.

1 comment:

Katherine Darrow said...

Thanks for the new reading refs! Excellent reminders.