A meditation practice can be, in its own way, a powerful public witness to a cause. After becoming a member of the Bathurst Community Climate Action Network (BCCAN), located in my hometown of Bathurst (NSW, Australia), I got to thinking about how a practice like meditation might be compatible with promoting action in response to the current climate emergency. The article below, originally published in our local newspaper, the Western Advocate on August 6, is a brief attempt to answer this compatibility question. The article as it appeared in the newspaper was inncorectly attributed to a fellow ‘BCCANer’, Bernadette Mullaney.
Since November last year a group of people have been meditating weekly outside the Bathurst Regional Council building, in front of the Rotary Peace Garden. We begin at 8am each Friday morning and meditate for up to 30 minutes. Why do we do this?
We meditate with a sign saying, ‘Climate Action Now’. This is the immediate message we want people to see. While, nationally, we now have a government with a 43% emissions reduction target, this is not enough to stop 2 degrees of warming globally. A 70% target would be better.
And while we now have a majority of councillors who have voted to recognise climate change as a present-day reality, we still need to remind them daily that nothing much improves until we commit to, and take enough practical steps, to limit the amount of unprecedented weather events happening now. This will have to happen for some time yet. We are only at the beginning of a commitment that will need to be ramped-up in the years ahead to 2030 and beyond.
But why meditate? We could just stand there holding the sign. Is there perhaps a connection between the practice of meditation and what the sign is saying?
A commitment to a meditation practice does a lot of good. Anxiety and depression levels reduce; blood pressure goes down; cholesterol reduces; the body and mind have a chance to rest and reset; we become kinder; we become more hopeful; we somehow feel and seem more ourselves.
And not only these things. During meditation, as the mind settles, we come to immediately experience (before thinking about it) the basic unity we all have with each other and with nature. This experience grows awareness of this unity in us. As this happens, there also grows in us the impetus to commit to this unity in the everyday of our lives. Awareness invites action.
So, the sign is the message and meditation can help draw out a commitment to the message. This is why the two are together each Friday morning. And not only this. We meditate publicly each Friday in the hope that meditation done this way might have an affect on those who pass by, perhaps helping them to somehow notice the nature that lives in all our hearts.
If you would like to join us each Friday morning, please do. You would be welcomed.