Pause for the Planet

One Good Deed Idea and Action Exchange
Colorful Buddhist prayer flags hanging in front of a cabin

When we ask the question, “What can I do to heal the Earth?,” we may be missing the point. In the big scheme of things, there is no “I” separate from the Earth and all creation. When we uncover this insight for ourselves, we unlock our powerful capacity to benefit all Life.

There is a very simple way, built right into our living bodies, to accomplish this. Buddhist teacher Pema Chödrön calls it “pause practice.” Wherever we are, whatever we are doing, no matter how caught up we are in the moment—if we remember—we can pause and take “three conscious breaths.” That’s it.

Our bodies are designed so that whenever we breathe, we reaffirm our intrinsic identity with all Life. Breath comes in, and breath goes out, like a door that swings both ways. There is no barrier between us and everything we see, feel, hear, smell, taste, and know. When we truly realize this, we begin to see that our capacity for action is vast and unlimited. We are intimately part of all the energy of Life, and it is all available to us for healing and reconciliation.

Scientists estimate that we take over 23,000 breaths per day. We could start in the morning by pausing to take three conscious breaths, and gradually increase the number of “pause practice” moments throughout the day. Then observe what happens. Our relationship to Life begins to shift, and every action we take, no matter how small, begins to heal the Earth.

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