7 Ways to Honor Planet Earth: Celebrate Earth Day with Yogic Practices for Grounding the Body and Healing Mother Nature
Do you want to help heal the Earth? Now, more than ever, the Earth and Mother Nature requires our time, attention, and utmost care. If you want to make a difference in the world, you must first manifest that difference within yourself. If you want to help heal the scars of humanity's pollution, wars, and hatred, you must first heal yourself.
How does one heal oneself? Yoga has shown the way to holistic healing on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual levels to a countless many. Yoga does not discriminate; it cares not for the human-invented boundaries of language, gender identity, nation, religious or spiritual affiliation, age, or socio-economic status. Yoga helps us understand that we are all One, not only with each other but also with all living creatures, the planet Earth, and Mother Nature herself.
Celebrating Earth Day in 2022: Practical Solutions for Being the Difference You Want to See in the World
Earth Day is this Friday, the 22nd of April. We invite you to celebrate the profound privilege we have of being here by joining our spiritual yoga family. Ground yourself through a daily practice of yoga postures, elevate the mind with our free daily satsangs, and visit us in person to experience the benefits of living the yogic lifestyle 24/7. We look forward to having you with us, whether it is virtually or at our flourishing ashram yoga retreat on Paradise Island.
7 Yogic Ways to Honor Earth, Self, and Mother Nature
How do we honor planet Earth? By honoring ourselves, each other, every living creature and Mother Nature. What does honoring look like?
Honoring entails understanding that we are all connected to each other, that unity is the reality and that separation is the illusion. Honoring means manifesting this understanding into action by developing a value system based on loving kindness, compassion, and peace for all. Honoring means maintaining our inner peace by ensuring total alignment with that value system — through our actions, the company we keep, the words we speak, and the thoughts we think.
1. Ahimsa, or the Practice of Non-Violence
What is Ahimsa?
Ahimsa can be interpreted as not bringing harm to others, ourselves, any living creature, or nature itself. On the physical level, this means not practicing violence onto others, ourselves, or nature. Ahimsa is the predominant reason for most yogis being vegetarian. On the verbal level, practicing ahimsa means refraining from yelling and using violent or crude language. On the mental level, practicing ahimsa extends to not thinking negative thoughts about ourselves or others.
How should you practice Ahimsa on Earth Day in 2022?
Make a resolution when you wake up: today, I will do my utmost best to practice Ahimsa on the mental, verbal, and physical levels. If you are not vegetarian, resolve to not eat meat for the day. Replace your usual consumption of meat with other protein alternatives such as lentils, beans, or tofu. If you are well-versed in yogic practices and/or are vegetarian, take your practice of Ahimsa further by restraining your speech, taking time to think before talking and making sure that each word that you say is aligned with a practice of non-violence... that every word is constructive and kind and will not cause harm to the other.
For the ultimate level of Ahimsa, attend to the state of your mind. Every time you notice a negative thought pop up — and you will, as this is the state of the mind and especially so when the mind rests in ego instead of heart — observe it and reverse it. In Yoga Sutra 2.33-34, Patanjali advises, “Vitarka badhane pratipaksha bhavanam”. These words of wisdom could be translated as: when troublesome thoughts (vitarka) afflict (badhane) you, cultivate (bhavanam) the opposite thoughts (pratipaksha). For this Earth Day, resolve to respond to negative thoughts and patterns by thinking and doing the opposite. For example, if you are feeling hatred, ask yourself why? and cultivate compassion and love towards the object or person of your hatred instead.
Why should you practice Ahimsa on Earth Day in 2022?
Negative thoughts consume much of our energy. They distract us from pursuing our goals. Negative thoughts feed on each other and make the mind agitated and the body restless.
By taking the non-violence against animals seriously and practicing vegetarianism (even if only for the day), you can help reduce pollution of streams, rivers, and ocean. Pollution from livestock waste can runoff into waterways and cause great harm to aquatic ecosystems, destroying topsoil and contaminating the air. According to research by Global Forest Watch, agriculture is the top source of deforestation at 40%; beef is responsible for 36% of all agriculture-linked forest-replacement.
2. Chanting Om Namo Narayana, the Mantra for World Peace
What is Om Namo Narayana?
Om Namo Narayana is a Sanskrit mantra and sacred verse with ancient origins. It appeared in both the Tarasara Upanishad and the Sama Veda.
How to practice Om Namo Narayana on Earth Day in 2022?
Sit in a comfortable meditative position, either cross-legged on the ground or on the edge of a chair with your back straight. If you have a japamala or prayer beads, use your japamala to chant Om Namo Narayana 108 times. If you don't, chant the mantra as many times as you can. Chant the mantra aloud to feel the vibration of the sacred sounds throughout your whole body. Once you conclude chanting, sit in silence for at least 5 to 10 minutes so as to allow the benefits and effects of the mantra to sink in.
Why should you practice chanting Om Namo Narayana on Earth Day in 2022?
Mantra chanting is an effective means of reconnecting with the Inner Self. By calming the mind and stilling the body, mantra chanting allows the illusion of separation to fall away. In the stillness of the repetition of these ancient sounds, one understands the all-pervasive unity of oneness that exists throughout the world. And when one understands this unity, they become full of loving kindness, compassion, and joy. Seeing no creature or life as separate from oneself, one begins to honor the Earth with every thought, word, and deed.
In terms of the specific mantra chosen for this purpose, Om Namo Narayana is often associated with movements for world peace because of its meaning. Om is the divine sacred syllable, said to have been the first sound in the Universe. Om represents the nature of Atman, or the all-encompassing Oneness, the universal energy and the consciousness that is aware and unified in all of us. Namo can be translated from Sanskrit as "to bow to" or "to pay homage to". Narayana can be interpreted from its Sanskrit roots as to mean water (from "nara") and "resting place" or "shelter" (from anaya). In this interpretation, Narayana is thus representative of the Hindu god Vishnu, whose resting place is water. Vishnu is known as the preserver and protector of the Universe, so it would make sense to chant his name with the intention of fulfilling the sincere wish for world peace and happiness for all.
3. Incorporate Grounding Practices into Your Daily Activities
What are grounding practices?
Grounding practices are behaviors and actions we take to help us feel more connected to our bodies, the ground beneath our feet, Mother Nature, and the Earth. Well-known grounding practices are shirin-yoku (forest bathing), walking barefoot, and sleeping on the bare ground. Any practice that brings you back into your body and in tune with the nature around you can be considered as grounding; with regularity, it can become a grounding practice.
How to incorporate grounding practices on Earth Day in 2022?
- Walk barefoot.
- Sleep (or nap! or relax!) on the ground or as close to the ground as possible.
- Make time to rekindle your connection with the physical body. Use this time to feel the sensations of the body, particularly the feet.
- Chant Om Gam Ganapataye Namah while focusing on the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine. Take it a step further by visualizing the red color of the chakra. You may even see the flames of a fire purifying you and manifesting the positive qualities of the chakra within your consciousness: those of vitality, growth, and vigor.
Why should you incorporate grounding practices on Earth Day in 2022?
The Human-Earth connection is astounding. Several grounding studies were mentioned where it was found that people were syncing with the resonant qualities of the Earth; in the case of solar flares, studies show that geomagnetic fluctuations impact heart and blood pressure and in the most severe cases of synchronicity may even cause heart attacks or death. The interesting thing, of course, is that the impacts of geomagnetic fluctuations caused by solar flares are not isolated to a single community, spiritual center, or anything nonsensical like that. Indeed, these changes in the heart and blood pressure were seen in all communities across all regions of the Earth... occurring concurrently, cohesively, simultaneously.
4. Practice Grounding Yoga Asanas
What are grounding yoga asanas?
Grounding yoga asanas put pressure on the Mūlādhāra chakra and rebalance the energy contained within it. What is the Mūlādhāra Chakra?
- Also known as the root chakra, the Mūlādhāra chakra is presided over by the deity Ganesha. Ganesha is cheerful and full of bliss like a child. He is often pictured with sweets.
- Ganesha reminds us that the removing of obstacles doesn’t simply require the strength of the elephant; it also requires the sweetness of a child’s joy.
- Earth and fire are associated with this chakra.
- The sound that resonates here is LAM (pronounced LUHM).
How to practice grounding yoga asanas on Earth Day in 2022?
Practice Padahasthasana or Hands to Feet pose. Stand erect. Raise arms overhead and inhale deeply. Then exhale slowly and while exhaling, bend the body until the hands reach the toes and the nose touches the knees.
Practice Trikonasana or triangle pose. Stand erect keeping the feet two or three feet apart. Now bring the arms should height, the palms down. Bend to the left slowly and touch the left toes with the left hand. Remain thus for five seconds and slowly return to the standing position. Do not bend the legs or arms when bending down or when getting up. From the standing position, bend to the right and touch the right toes with the right hand. Remain for five second in this position and then come back to the original standing position.
Practice Savasana or Corpse pose for an extended amount of time, at least 10 minutes. Lay flat on your mat with legs mat-width distance apart and arms at a 45 degree angle from each other. Tense and release each body part, starting from the feet and moving upwards. Once you have done tense and release, start the process of autosuggestion. Repeat mentally in your head, "I am relaxing my feet" three times. Do this for every body part. Do not fall asleep; remain awake and alert but relaxed.
Why should you incorporate grounding yoga asanas on Earth Day in 2022?
Balancing the root chakra creates a solid foundation for the opening of the six succeeding chakras and, eventually, for the flow of Prana or life energy throughout the entire body. When the Mūlādhāra Chakra is balanced, the body and mind experiences a sense of stability, energy, and strength while the whole being radiates confidence and a total assuredness in the self. The practice of yoga asanas is generally beneficial for connecting you with your body and through your body, nature itself. The practice of yoga asanas helps to still the mind, relieve tension in the body, and return the awareness to the breath and the bodily sensations.
What is meditation?
Meditation is the practice of using a technique (such as mindfulness or focusing the mind on an object, thought, activity, or mantra) for a predetermined amount of time to sharpen the awareness, train one's attention, and achieve a mind that is emotionally-calm, mentally clear, stable, and at peace.
How to practice meditation on Earth Day in 2022?
Sit at the start and end of your day for 15 to 30 minutes. Sit comfortably in a cross-legged position on the ground or, if you cannot, sit on the edge of a chair. Make sure your back is straight and your chin is parallel to the ground. Allow the eyes to drift shut. Focus on the breath, deepening the breath to inhales and exhales that are to the count of 3, each. Once your breath is rhythmic, find a point of focus either at your heart (anāhata) chakra or your third eye (ājñā) chakra and introduce the repetition of the universal mantra Om. Om on every inhale and Om on every exhale. If this is too difficult to do silently in your mind, you are welcome to repeat the mantra aloud.
Stay like this for 15 - 30 minutes, or as long as your body and mind allows. When the mind drifts away and thoughts consume it (and this will happen, as this is the nature of the mind), observe the thought. Do not judge it. Allow it to drift across the landscape of your mind like a cloud in the sky and then, carefully and with kindness, bring your mind back to your point of focus and resume the repetition of the mantra.
Why should you practice meditation on Earth Day in 2022?
Meditation is the highest form of tapas or austerity. If you dedicate your meditation to peace for all, the flourishing of the Earth and the healing of Mother Nature, you are doing not only a great service for yourself and a great service onto others. The benefits of meditation for the self are immeasurable and include good health, concentration, endurance, and strong willpower.
6. Take Your Time Doing Things and Do Them Mindfully
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your awareness to the forefront of your attention. It is the practice of becoming aware of the doing of actions, speaking of words, and thinking of thoughts.
How to practice mindfulness on Earth Day in 2022?
Walk slowly. Things that you tend to do on autopilot (like drive to work), perservere on this day to do with your full attention span. If you find the task boring or too mundane, make it your mission to find something about this task that reveals it as captivating and new. For example, if you are driving to work, be present in your body; feel the handle of the steering wheel beneath your hands, the pedal beneath your feet.
Take time to ground yourself in your body. Tune into your senses as much as you can. When you eat, pay attention to every flavor and every tactile sensation in the mouth.
While going about your day, you can also repeat mentally: "I am the awareness that is aware of x." So, "I am the awareness that is aware of the sweetness of these strawberries in my mouth" and even "I am the awareness that is aware of the annoyance felt at the slow driver in front of me."
Why should you practice mindfulness on Earth Day in 2022?
Mindfulness helps us become in tune with our thoughts. When we become in tune with our thoughts, we become aware of our thinking patterns. Awareness is the first step one takes in taking back control of the mind, shifting one's perspective towards the present moment, and radiating complete joy and peace. If, like most people, we have the issue of thinking negatively and allowing our energy to be drained by the mind, practicing mindfulness is an excellent tactic that allows us to identify when, where, why, and towards what or who we are thinking negative thoughts. By identifying these factors, we can become more resolute in noticing our mind slip faster in the future -- and in hopefully shifting our mind away from these negative thoughts by replacing them with the opposite, positive thoughts.
7. Being Present: Be Here Now with Breathwork and Spread Love with Compliments Wherever You Go
What is being present?
Being present means being full conscious of the Now, of the present moment. It is existing in a state that is free from the noise of internal dialogue, egoic judgment, thoughts of the future or the past. The state of presence is often associated with feelings of stillness and peace. Sensations are said to be sharper; the storage of data for later recollection as memory is enhanced.
How to practice being present on Earth Day in 2022?
Spend time with your loved ones. Tell others you love them. Give compliments. Tell the woman you pass by on the street that she looks incredible in that hat; tell the man picking up the trash "Thank you". Notice what others are doing. Express gratitude for everything and everyone. Whenever someone asks for your attention or time, give it and give it with 100% presence. When someone talks to you, focus on your breathing. Refrain from interjecting, saying things like "Me too!" or "I can relate. Don't refocus the conversation on yourself -- both internally (mentally, via thought) or externally (via dialogue, speech).
Why should you practice being present by focusing on the breath and complimenting others on Earth Day in 2022?
Being present helps those we give our time and attention to feel heard, loved, and appreciated. When those in our lives feel heard, loved, and appreciated, they give the same back to us in return. And they don't just give the same back to us -- they give the same back to all others. When we practice love, kindness, and presence with those who we cross paths with -- whether its by focusing on the breath, paying forward compliments, or other methods -- we lead the way and help people do the same to others. This creatures a circle of positive action that extends far beyond one small interaction. This circle of positive action grows to accommodate the planet Earth and Mother Nature, helping all of us become more aware and consciousness of how we treat ALL of the living things around us.