Calm down. Your Zen methods may already be plenty green so don't stress...yet. At least wait till I provide some background: When your average Stone Age man or woman was confronted by a hungry saber tooth tiger or rampaging mastodon, within a split-second the fight or flight response would kick in. The prehistoric human would then react and the stress response would eventually subside. Space Age humans like you and I are still functioning with the same brain as our ancestors, thus all forms of modern stress--from a nerve-wracking first date to a dose of rush hour traffic--provoke the same intense physiological response.
This is all good if your life resembles that of Indiana Jones; but for the most part, we're rarely faced with life-threatening stressors like hungry predators or giant rolling boulders. This creates a condition of habitual stress response which can lead to increased blood pressure, cardiac disease, colitis, bleeding ulcers, arthritis, asthma, lupus, and even cancer. So, how can a stressed but Earth-friendly human find inner peace without substantially deepening her/his carbon footprint?
Keep reading to learn 10 Ways to Green Your Zen.
Obviously, more space would be required to explain the concept of meditation but then again, simpler is usually better. This practice is inherently green as it requires no physical travel or expensive gear. Some choose to focus on a place in which they feel relaxed while others opt for repeating an internal mantra as way to slow down and maintain singular concentrate. A more Buddhist approach is that of mindfulness, in which the focus is on your own breathing and remains in the present moment.
Green Tip: As the Interdependence Project suggests, during meditation, "be aware of your choices. Pay attention to your actions. Examine your lifestyle not from a place of guilt, but from a mindset of creative curiosity. Examine and recognize: how you eat, what you wear, why, where, and what you buy, how you get around, what you do for work, your interests, who and what you care about, your intention.the multitude of choices that weave together your day."
Green Tip: Elizabeth Seward suggests greening your yoga gear, e.g. jute mat, organic mat spray, bamboo practice blocks, and eco-friendly grips.
3. Tai Chi
Green Tip: Once again, this is an activity that's green by design. So, why not buy your loose-fitting Tai Chi outfit used.
Remember that time you were in a terrible mood and then Van Halen's "Somebody Get Me A Doctor" came on the classic rock (or oldies) station and you immediately felt better? That, my friends, is a small taste of music power. It can motivate, it can inspire, and it can reduce stress.
Green Tip: If music can release stress, then playing music might be doubly effective. To keep your sound green, stay unplugged.
5. Get Sleepy
Research shows you can make yourself more alert, reduce stress, and improve cognitive functioning with a power nap.
6. Get Active
Exercise can decrease stress hormones like cortisol, and increase endorphins, your body's feel-good chemicals, giving your mood a natural boost.
Green Tip: Work up a sweat by planting a few trees.
Those comedic folks at the Mayo Clinic report: "A rollicking laugh fires up and then cools down your stress response and increases your heart rate and blood pressure. The result? A good, relaxed feeling."
Green Tip: Nothing makes me laugh more than watching corporations try in vain to greenwash their destructive habits.
Slowly and often. Chewing relaxes the stomach muscles and triggers the rest of the digestive process. A good rule of thumb: If you can tell what kind of food you are eating from the texture of the food in your mouth (not the taste), then you haven't chewed it enough.
Green Tip: Green what you chew with locally grown, organic, plant-based whole foods.
9. Make Lists
"By keeping a To-Do List, you make sure that you capture all of the tasks you have to complete in one place," is the word from Mind Tools. This helps you prioritize so you can "tell what needs your immediate attention, and what you can quietly forget about until much, much later." It goes without saying, the net result is an increase in productivity and a decrease in stress.
Green Tip: Make your own recycled paper scratch pad for your lists.
10. Let Go, Open Up
"Everything can change in a moment; we have little control over the outer weather patterns as we make our way through the landscape of a life," writes Elizabeth Lesser in her book, Broken Open. "But we can become masters of the inner landscape. We can use what happens on the outside to change the way we function on the inside." By allowing ourselves to view difficult times as a new lens of sorts, we can strip away our masks, our fears, and our doubts and find ourselves less stressed by life's daily inconveniences.
Green Tip: Once your mind and heart are open, you can better recognize the severity of the current eco-crisis and discover where you can immediately use your unique gifts to create change.