I have just re-emerged from A Dream Called Hawaii. Blissful, Sacred, Energizing Hawaii. I felt the fresh air, had a chance to wonder at the beauty of nature. I made powerful connections, had soulful conversations and met some of the most amazing people. It gave me a chance to feel the Earth underneath my feet, the wind in my hair and my emotions were under the control of the ocean, the sun, the stars and the moon. I surrendered myself to nature and let the waves pick me up and toss me around, I swam in emerald pools, fed by fresh streams, did countless Suryanamaskar, meditated in the soft glow of the slanting rays, climbed the mountains to pay my respect and was rewarded by a brief glimpse of the humpback whales as they swam up for a breath. I let the fish and the corals mesmerize me. I woke up to sunrises which painted the sky in colors hard to describe and sunsets which turned the oceans into liquid gold. I bathed in the glorious moonlight of the NYE Blue Moon, internalizing the sacred energy and I felt it rush in my blood. Sigh! That dream is over and I am back to reality, ready to start the grind of the ICU. But I feel energized, content, rested, replenished. The sacred Hawaii has done me Good and inspired me to be true to myself, to my heart and act on things I care about most and not brush them aside. I want to continue to practice The Spirit of Aloha. The giving and acceptance of peace and love.
So here are some of the changes I want to make in 2018. The theme is to be kind to mother nature. Pay our rent to planet Earth. Adapting earth friendly practices, and avoiding those which are inherently destructive. Any change, even at an individual level has the power to make a difference, but a collective change, taken by likeminded people will truly make a difference to the Earth. I am hoping we can inspire the spirit within each of us to do the right thing, to give back what we receive. We are nature, and we are part of this ecology this inter-relationship between all living things and we need to honor it.
- No Plastic: Of all the things that humans have discovered and invented, plastic for one is probably the most toxic to earth. I find myself trapped by the marketing norms and even though I hate the use of plastic, I find my self helpless at avoiding it completely. Most things come in plastic- so I unwittingly use it. But I will try to do what I can. One of the areas where excessive polly bags are handed out is in the check out section of any store. I am going to carry my own bags. I have ordered these jute bags for grocery, and will keep spare bags in my car trunk, so that I can avoid plastic as much as possible. I will cary a water bottle and a coffee mug at work to refill them, so that I can avoid styrofoam cups, and plastic bottles. I have done this in the past and it’s hard because I always lose my bottles and mug, but hopefully, once I have my office i will find a permanent place to keep them.
- Recycle: When I lived in California I recycled religiously. When I moved to Pittsburgh, the apartment that I lived in did not enforce recycling. And now in Danville, I feel terrible to have added plastic to the landfill for 1.5 years, although most plastic and cardboard are still in my garage that I didn’t have the heart to trash. I have written an email to my landlord to subscribe to a recycling company. I will also write to my workplace and request them to install more recycling bins. Discourage or minimize the use of plastic and
- Minimize waste: Food and Clothes. Buy only what I need. I think I am pretty good at it. I went 1.5years without going to a mall. Sure I did order things online, but that’s not the point. I did not buy clothes for 1.5 years. I haven’t bought make-up for the same period of time. Nor have i bought excessive shampoos etc. Only what I need. Each time i look at something, I ask myself -Do I want it or do I need it? Even if I decide to buy it, I let it sit in my shopping cart, I go back to it in a weeks time, to re-assess if I really need it before making the final purchase. I am however terrible at minimizing food waste. There are lot of things that I buy and never eat, and then it makes its way to the trash. It breaks my heart, but I am a victim of my own wasteful habits. This I want to change. Its hard, because I buy them with the intention to eat healthy and fresh, but with the 13+ hours I put in the hospital every day, my inspiration takes a back seat and I do what is easiest. Eat take-outs while fresh produce rots in my refrigerator. But I hope to change it this year. I have started freezing things I know will go bad. I am also keeping a catalog of things that I buy but eventually trash, so that I stop buying them.
- Use Earth friendly, cruelty free, biodegradable products. Yes, they are expensive, and yes some of them are a hoax. Its hard to decide. I met a Navajo Indian woman in Mammoth CA who doesn’t use dish liquid. She soaks the dirty dishes in baking soda, and states that they clean just as good. I met another woman in Pilson Chicago who didnt use dishwasher at all, just washed everything in hot water- sure her dishes didnt exactly smell the best, but I admired her resolution to avoid toxic wastes which pollutes are rivers and oceans. I mostly buy biodegradable kitchen products and I dont use any toxic cleansing products for the tub or the sink. Only vinegar and soda bicarb. I worry about the environmental impact of soaps and shampoos. We are 7.8 billion humans on Earth, and most of us use caustic cleansing products. And there are 100s if not 1000s of companies out there, each claiming to sell the best product. I think about the pollution they cause to the water table, streams, rivers and oceans while they are used, and also the pollution that goes into manufacturing these individual products. Its astounding. Whats the solution here? I don’t know. I don’t have all the right answers. But I think of India. The India before the industrial age. We are one of the oldest civilizations in the world, and right until the change of the 20th century, we did not use commercial products. We survived without modern shampoos, toothpastes, cosmetics for of 1000s of years. We used natural products. What changed? The arrival of the British, the introduction of products of industrialization, and the advent of marketing. But back in the day Neem datuan was our toothbrush, turmeric and sandalwood nourished our skins and shikakai cleansed our hair. Is it possible to go back? I dont know. But I am going to try. And I will put my faith in the ancient wisdom and knowledge of plants and herbs. For the past many years I have only used natural oils on my body (almond &jojoba with a few drops of lavender), no commercial moisturizers. I hope to extend that practice to other departments. Ayahuasca anyone?
- Spend more time outdoors. There is nothing that rejuvenates more than nature. The Big blue skies, trees, forests, streams and lakes, sound of birds, the cosmos. This year I want more camping trips, more star gazing, more kayaking, more hikes. It has been a blessing to meet some really inspiring people on my trip to Hawaii. Folks who have turned back to nature. I met more individuals specialized in permaculture than in my entire lifetime. Who draw strength and inspiration from nature. Understand it. Specialize in plant sciences. Worship it. Preserve it. Live in communities powered by solar energy. I met this individual who told me that plants can synthesize music. I didnt meet him with skepticism as I always knew that trees have a soul. I was fascinated and could’nt wait to check out these videos 1, 2, 3. So plants sing, people. They are alive. I have always felt in awe in the presence of giant trees, they are probably some of the oldest living beings on Earth. Like the redwood forests in California, or the giant Banyan tree in Kolkata. When I rest under a tree during a hike on a hot day, I have always felt this loving energy: A soul-cleansing energy. And this year I will get more of it. I also came across this inspirational video on the life of Doug Tompkins that I highly recommend.
- Be Cruelty free: No down, no leather, no fur. I can proudly claim that I have never purchased a down product. The feather is live plucked people. Jeez. I have given in to leather in the past. Although recently my choices have been gore-tex, faux leather, thermoball. Animals deserve better than being tortured to satisfy our greed.
- Honor and care for my Body: Drink lots of water, whenever my body demands it. I am too used to prioritizing my patients needs before mine, which I am proud of since I strive to be a caring physician, but I can only serve others if am healthy. So I will drink when I am thirsty, not at the end of rounds. Eat timely, rest sufficiently, exercise generously, take time for yoga and swimming. Take out time for myself. Answer nature’s call right away. There are days in the ICU, when I realize that I have not had a drop of water, a morsel of food till late in the evening, and seconds later I realize that I haven’t pee’d. This is not healthy. I am going to honor myself. Take care of my body. Slow deep breaths.
These are my 7 resolutions. Maybe I will come back and add a few more, when I think of it, but i didnt wanna write things that were not true to my heart to stretch the list to 10. Thank you for taking the time out to read. As this comes from my heart, and I hope it reaches yours. Please leave a comment if this echoes with your own thoughts or inspires or draws you to nature. And I hope we can strengthen each others resolve in doing the right thing.