With the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow coming to a close I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about the important connections between climate change, music, mindfulness and meditation. Below I focus on six important and interesting talking points about how we can all do our bit to help our planet. Alongside this, I have added some links to some wonderful charities and organisations that are out there on the front line helping to make our world a better place.
COP26 took place from 31st October to the 12th November 2021 in Glasgow, Scotland. The COP meetings are annual events which brings together governments and nations from the entire world to manage, solve and discuss pressing climate issues.
It was fantastic to hear COP26 starting off with a pledge to end deforestation and increase reforestation projects by 2030. As they started off with talks on forests and natural woodlands it only seemed appropriate to begin in the same place.
Did you know time spent amongst trees and natural woodland has been scientifically proven to reduce stress and anxiety, make you feel calmer, help create a stronger sense of peace, and so much more. Bring that together with the power of mindful walking and you have quite an extraordinary experience. Mindful walking is all in the art of bring purely within the moment of your walk, engaging with everything that is around you as you move through your ever-changing environment. Here are a few ways to help you engage more mindfully with a walk:
From a musical perspective the forest is a natural symphony of sounds – birds, trees, streams, animals – we can spend hours simply listening to the natural sounds that a woodland brings. On your walk, I invite you to take a moment to sit and simply listen. What can you hear? Perhaps find a spot on a regular walk to stop and listen each time. How does the sound change over time? How does it differ from day to day? Perhaps you could bring along a small diary and document what you hear?
One life One Tree – https://onelifeonetree.com
Treeaid – https://www.treeaid.org
Treesisters – https://treesisters.org
Woodland Trust – https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk
Ecosia – the search engine which plants trees – www.ecosia.org
If you are a regular visiter to quietnote, or any meditation practice for that matter, you will know the importance of regular attention to your breathing. Through the breath we are able to ground ourselves, reduce our stress, feel peaceful and so much more. It is our most reliable friend and our greatest ally to a long and healthy life.
However, if what we are breathing is dirty and polluted air then all that wonderful breath work is actually doing more harm than good. Too many cars, too many fossil fuel power stations, too much air pollution is poisoning our air and our lungs. In 2019 Public Health England published a study which stated:
“Air pollution is the biggest environmental threat to health in the UK, with between 28,000 and 36,000 deaths a year attributed to long-term exposure.”
And that’s 2019 and just the UK…
The answer is simple: we must move away from fossil fuels. The answer may be simple but getting there won’t be. But for the sake of nearly 7 million people a year (World Health Organisation stats) we must try. What are some of the easiest ways to do this? Well alongside reforestation and air purifying trees here are a few really simple solutions…
Switch energy providers to a green energy company.
Take public transport more often. We have become addicted to the ease of using our cars, but public transport can make all the difference. For instance, trains amount for 10% of all journeys across the UK but only 1% of pollution caused through travel.
Encourage energy saving devices and utilities in your home and office.
Check out this interesting article from the Columbia Climate School for 35 really easy ways to lower your carbon impact. https://news.climate.columbia.edu/2018/12/27/35-ways-reduce-carbon-footprint/
The music of indigenous cultures is wonderfully rich and deep. Being so connected with the harmony of the natural world gives their music a purity and depth which I believe you don’t get anywhere else. However, Indigenous communities are on the forefront of the climate emergency. Living in harmony with their surroundings, Indigenous people all over the world are protecting and fighting for our forests and natural world every day. They are not only fighting for our forests but they are fighting for their lives and we must do everything we can do to help them. Exploitation, mining, illegal logging are all major issues affecting their livelihoods and ways of life. Even though they may seem like an entire world away there are still plenty of ways to get involved and help out.
Head over to the Traditional Music Channel to experience traditional and indigenous music from all over the world: https://www.youtube.com/c/TraditionalMusicChannel/about.
Seeding Sovereignity – https://seedingsovereignty.org
Amazon Frontlines – https://www.amazonfrontlines.org
Yellowed Institute – https://yellowheadinstitute.org
Whale song is one of the most beautiful and peaceful sounds of any creature on the planet. Primarily associated with the humpback whale, this song played an important part in protecting our oceans.
During the 1970’s, scientific research done into the song of the humpback whale played a major role in introducing the 1986 global ban on whaling. What did those scientists find? They found that whale song wasn’t simply ‘automatic’ responses, but it actually contained musical aspect including melody, harmony, improvisation and most importantly communication. It was another huge leap forward in humanities understanding that whales aren’t simply ‘big fish’ but they are living creatures with personalities, families and feelings. It also showed us that humans are not the only ones who enjoy singing and music.
It was the song that saved the whales. If it wasn’t down to those findings and the incredible work of Greenpeace we may have lost entire whale populations. However, the fight is not over – pollution, over-fishing, too many boats on the sea are still harming whale population today.
Whales do so much for our planet. Scientists say a single whale captures more CO2 in its lifetime than 1000 trees. We must continue to do everything we can to help these ancient beings.
Buy locally, it may seem obvious but if your produce and purchases come from local services then they have not been imported on boats from overseas. This also goes hand in hand with helping reduce your carbon footprint.
Adopt a whale: https://www.worldwildlife.org/species/whale
UK Whales: https://uk.whales.org
Save the Whales: https://savethewhales.org
It may not be very musical but eating seasonally is definitely one of the best things we can do for our planet and our health.
Seasonal eating is simply checking what fruit and vegetables are growing right now and adding them into your meal plan! Top that with buying from local and organic farms or shops and you’ve got yourself a very environmentally beneficial habit! Spending time in the kitchen, taking the time to really care about cooking or baking is a wonderfully mindful and meditative exercise. Not only are you nourishing your mind by centering your thoughts and energy into creating a healthy organic home cooked treat you are also nourishing your body through what you create. Take care of your mind by taking care of your body. As this article is being released in the Autumn I thought I would share with you some of my favourite Autumnal treats! Easy on the sloe gin…
take care of your mind by taking care of your body
We’re slightly addicted to electricity nowadays. Nearly everything we do involves electricity in some from. Although we are slowly transitioning to green energy a large percentage of the world’s electricity is still generated through burning fossil fuels.
One thing that doesn’t need any electricity is music. Music and instruments were here long before electricity. There is something quite special about playing an acoustic instrument or connecting to your voice. It may sound really obvious but I have always found the lack of electricity for acoustic instruments wonderful. Especially when it comes to orchestras – no amps, no speakers just a wonderfully talented group of musicians powered through their love of music and their instruments.
The image below is of myself in concert earlier this year with my classical guitar. In that concert the venue had lights and I used a microphone to talk to the audience but the music was acoustic. Electronic music and electric instruments are wonderful, beautiful and crazy but for me I don’t think they will ever top the natural sound of acoustic instruments.
playing an instrument really can help save the planet – it’s never too late to learn
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