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      By: Caline Assilian – FSA Advisory Board
      Exhale Area Director

      There are so many various aspects to the concept of sustainability.  As we all know, sustainability has become both a highly discussed topic and a very relevant need for our planet in the current state.  It encompasses a wide range of components including air quality, recycling, tree planting, product quality, etc.  What it really all comes down to is the ability to maintain – maintain the planet, the environment, nature, economy, social structure, and people. Sustainability is essentially the capacity to endure. When we look at this from the perspective of people or human beings, this has to do with not only the actions that people take but also the state of their mental and emotional balance.  And when it comes to this type of balance, it is undeniable that meditation is a key element to consider and incorporate.

      Meditation is not only a recent hot topic; it is an ancient practice that has been in play for thousands of years.  In Eastern Medicine the concept of meditation, or self-cultivation, is one of the 5 main branches of the comprehensive system.  This is viewed by many as the most important branch of this system because it regards mental health.  A healthy mind is a mind that is present, positive, and alert. Thoughts require energy, and we expend a lot of energy every day thinking and obsessing about things that we cannot do anything about. There is a saying in Taoist philosophy that says where the mind goes, the qi (or energy) follows. If we step outside ourselves for even just an hour, and watch our minds, we will notice that our mind never stops. It takes a conscious effort to be present and it is a skill. According to the Taoists, it is the most difficult branch, but the most crucial. And fortunately, one of the most effective ways to cultivate a healthy mind is through meditation.

      The ultimate intention of meditation is to quiet the mind and increase one’s awareness. It is recommended to spend at least 15 minutes every morning and every evening in some type of meditation There are countless options for ways to meditate, whether it be using a guided visualization, chanting a mantra, or counting the breath.  The intention is to cultivate awareness. If you start out your day in meditation, you will likely find that you will be more aware of your thoughts throughout the day, and will have an easier time being present since at the least you will be aware that you are not. Over time and practice, people will find that they are more relaxed, less stressed out by external events, and happier in general.

      The Taoists believed that a healthy mind is the most important aspect of health.  The state of the planet depends on the state of our personal health.  Taking steps such as meditation to cultivate a healthy mental and physical state strongly impacts the greater earth and its ability to maintain balance. Having a present, positive, and healthy mind is one the most important steps we can take as individuals to contribute to the sustainability of ourselves and the planet.  Just think about it this way, every time you meditation you are not only helping yourself, you are helping the whole world.