Looking out of the window today at the sky and the trees, the world seems a calm and beautiful place. But picking up a newspaper or turning on the news, the picture is very different. Unless we go around with our eyes and ears closed to the outside world, we all know that there are huge imbalances that urgently need addressing.
An old Daoist adage enjoins us to leave no footprints on the Earth. Another saying is to leave only footprints when we die. Either way, as a race, we are stomping around in big boots making an almighty mess. Whatever action we may take as individuals to reduce plastic waste, carbon emissions and so on, the situation can at times seem overwhelming. That is because the root causes of the world’s problems are not so much “out there” but within each and every one of us, in our consciousness. When we have imbalance inside, we create imbalance outside.
In our heart of hearts, we know must learn to live more lightly, more softly. It is difficult to do that if we are overstimulated, which most of us are. Subconsciously, we crave space, which is akin to our inner nature. But the tendency is to seek out more and more information – the latest news, weather report, bargains, technology, fashions, miracle food and so on and so on. This creates tension inside us, mentally, energetically and emotionally.
So what can I do?
The most effective thing we can do immediately is simply to stop. Yes, just stop. Try it: stop and breathe. Bathe your body inside and out with your awareness, as though sweeping all tiredness and stale energy away. Let the tension start to flow out of you. When you are ready to move, after a few breaths, move slowly.
There’s never a need to rush – we just think there is. Slow down. Let your steps become softer. Make it a habit, and softer living naturally follows. Needs and desires become simpler, less demanding. We connect more to the Earth and our footprints on it automatically become lighter. Yes, it feels good, and it’s really good for the planet, too.