As the consequences of our negligence in caring for our planet loom large and the number of media stories about natural crises grow, it seems there’s a lot to worry about. ‘Eco-anxiety’, the term to describe the impact of climate change on mental health, is on the rise, world-wide.
There is no doubt that large-scale coordinated global action is key. But whilst we may contribute towards sustainable living in our own way, our personal preoccupations can make it difficult to connect to the true impact of our own actions on the wider world. And it can be even harder to fully realise the power we hold, to both contribute towards its healing, and to adapt to the unavoidable changes we will face along the way.
In a previous blog Reconnected Leadership in an Era of Disconnection, Terence Sexton describes the multiple ‘separations’ we’ve experienced over time and the resulting reduction in mental wellbeing, leading us to over-consume in a futile effort to make ourselves feel better.
Sophrology uses a variety of techniques that can help us to heal this separation and cultivate a deeper connection with ourselves, with each other – and crucially – with the wider environment. Through the use of mindfulness, meditation and gentle movements, Sophrology can help us to feel more grounded and connected to the world around us.
This awareness of interconnectedness can foster an increased sense of responsibility and stewardship towards the environment, and a profound appreciation for the natural world.
Replacing Consumerism with Inner Fulfilment
Understanding that we don’t need everything we want can help us regain focus on what really matters in our lives. David Reilly, writing in the BHMA’s Journal of Holistic Healthcare, differentiates needs as ‘what must be supplied for life to flourish – everything else is wants’. David sees the gap between our wants and our needs as the root of the crises in health, climate and environment: ‘This gap opens when our wants trump our needs’. Through mind-body practices like Sophrology, we make a conscious connection with the values that are a reflection of our needs, and what’s most important.
Discovering our personal values brings meaning to life and is the first step in knowing what brings us true joy and fulfilment – far from the empty materialistic ‘highs’ of consumerism.
Aligning with our Values for Greener Choices
Sophrology also helps us to adopt more positive behaviours through our understanding of who we are, and what we stand for. We can connect more meaningfully with what it means to be us, and make better choices that align with our personal values. In this way, we can feel when we are moving in the right direction, when our choices are more in tune with who we really are.
As a result, we can find it easier and more rewarding to embrace a greener lifestyle; even when those actions may be harder than simply doing what’s most expedient at the time. Not because we ‘ought to’, but because it feels right.
Fostering Empathy and Compassion for the Wider World
Empathy and compassion are essential qualities for caring for the planet. By turning our focus inward and cultivating self-compassion, we develop a greater capacity for empathy towards others, enabling us to act with kindness, understanding, and consideration for all living beings.
Furthermore, when we feel with our whole selves the reality of global warming, human poverty or the plight of endangered species, it becomes personal. Sophrology enables us to open up to the world around us, and with that, deepen our understanding of what we can do ourselves for those in need.
Being fully present in, and connected with, the world, can fundamentally alter how we think, how we act, and where we direct our attention to. This enables us to ‘pick up’ on what matters, and to make better, more informed choices about how we choose to live.
Embracing Sustainable Lifestyles through Mindful Action
We need to be ‘present’ in our own lives to really have a sense of our place in the world, and the world as a part of us. Mindfulness in our daily activities can help us to recognise changes we must make for the betterment of our existence, such as energy and waste reduction, sustainable transport choices or dietary habits.
Of course, lasting change, as we know, can be difficult; however, through regular practice of Sophrology techniques, such as visualisations and affirmations, we learn to reinforce positive intentions by creating new neural pathways. In short, we form better habits of mind – which in turn support these new, healthy, eco-conscious behaviours to become a natural part of our everyday lives.
Pausing to Listen for Better Solutions
Founder of Pause People Collective and student in sophrology, Kaylea Thomas, discusses the importance of taking time to listen, to ourselves and others, to create a sustainable way forward.
‘Listening creates a space to strip back the noise, to develop a personal awareness of the challenges we face as individuals and as businesses. It allows space to offer true clarity and support to one another.’
‘This simple act of pausing and listening allows the most appropriate solutions to unfold naturally, and although supported by the experts, ultimately provides people the insight and tools to create their own solutions. In turn the subsequent choices and actions that are taken are far more enjoyable and have a higher probability of achieving sustained positive outcomes for ourselves and for the planet.’
Sophrology provides a training in the ability to ‘tune in’, to listen with intent, and be present in this way
Promoting Environmental Advocacy from a Stronger Place
We are beginning to recognise the immense power that we have as individuals to effect change, as we draw inspiration from those who go before us. Think of Greta Thunberg and her rousing speech which empowered so many to take positive action! Of course, a calm and centred mind serves as a powerful foundation for environmental advocacy; and Sophrology can help foster clarity, resilience, and a sense of purpose to inspire others through our own resilience, enthusiasm and positivity.
Global efforts may be making slow progress but there are also many signs of hope with positive actions in areas such as agroforestry, urban gardening, and an increasing number of successful rewilding projects to name a few. Maintaining hope, as Viktor Frankl pointed out, is critical in the face of hardship and challenge.
Working towards a World in Harmony through Sophrology
Now is the time to work towards deepening our connection with nature, and our shared reliance on a thriving, natural environment. It’s something that is within our reach to achieve, regardless of our age, background or health. And we can make that positive first step by integrating mind-body practices such as Sophrology into our lives.
For it is through the development of our individual consciousness and wellbeing, that we can find the resilience and courage to become greater agents of harmony, working towards a more balanced and sustainable future for ourselves, future generations, and the planet we call home.
If you’d like to understand more about the Sophrology method and how it can help you and those you care about, check our Events Page for details of regular, free, online workshops.
Alternatively, you can find out more about training to become a professional Sophrologist on our Training Page.