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You May be Spiritually Sound but are you environmentally conscious?

Happy Earth Day Folks! Though technically we should be celebrating earth every day because without her we wouldn’t exist! So recently it seems that “spirituality” has been “trending” again, and I anticipate seeing more practices appropriated this month given the context of earth day. I don’t have a problem with anyone trying to find peace in their body, mind, surroundings, etc. What I do have a problem with is treating certain practices with a consumerist mindset while simultaneously harming the earth. Many Black, Indigenous, and people of color in their respective cultures have had these practices for years without it being donned “spiritual”. Here a few things you should stop doing this Earth day and many more to come because it actively harms the earth. 

Stop Burning White Sage

Burning White Sage of sage smudging is a traditional Indigenous practice. It’s a sacred plant that is used today by various tribes such as the Lakota, Comanche, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Navajo. The over usage of it is not only harmful to the environment but puts the plant itself at risk when Indigenous People want to partake in their rituals. If you’re not Indigenous and you’re burning White Sage, you are appropriating this practice. 

What you should do instead: Support Indigenous communities and their businesses, and perhaps read about your colonial history. 

  Stop buying crystals from corporate entities like Urban Outfitters

I was unaware of this before I started researching it, but the uptick in mining for crystals is extremely harmful to the earth. Especially things like rose quartz can be considered the new blood diamond. A way to combat this is by making sure the crystals are ethically mined (which I don’t think is plausible). Better yet, dig for regular rocks and hey you have something that is from the earth while also not harming it! 


What you should do instead: I watched a documentary called “The Secret” and this man spoke of picking up random rocks to use as “healing rocks”. Since this doesn’t harm the earth and people use crystals to heal, perhaps using regular rocks are a combative solution. 


Stop taking a yoga class from non- South Asian instructors

Okay so this technically doesn’t “harm the earth” but it is problematic. As a matter of fact, I anticipate writing a whole other article about this, but if your instructor is not South Asian, I doubt they would know the history of this practice which is beyond a fun workout. Also, there should not be mass yoga groups outside in the middle of a damn pandemic where you have to breathe in proximity to one another. 


What you should do instead: Find a yoga organization where the people are South Asian. If you see someone who is not South Asian and simultaneously charging for yoga classes, don’t take yoga there. Or if it’s donation-based and no one South Asian is present, don’t waste your money. Better yet, I’ll link Shilpa Shetty’s videos that I use down below! 


Stop mass buying incense sticks for a “nice smell” 

Buddhist, Taoist, and Hindu cultures have burned incense sticks for years to honor their ancestors while praying. Unless you practice this religion, there is no need for you to buy tons of incense sticks. As a matter of fact, burning them too much and too often is detrimental to the air quality, but guess who the blame would fall on? 

What you should do instead: Buy some essential oils and a diffuser, it’s quite simple. 

There is a fine line between appropriation and appreciation, and donning spiritual practices should only be done if you’re serious about learning about another culture. Any products, trends, or services that claim the title of spirituality while simultaneously harming the earth are not true to the core of what spirituality is. Be conscious this earth day and many more!

Shilpa Shetty’s Yoga Videos:

Warmup: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cVRnZa3_ing

Total Yoga 40 Min Workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBr_QwQqFH0 

Quick Fix Full Body 15 Min Workout: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnKZit6VB44




Pramila Baisya (commonly known as Prim to her friends) is a third year writing student at Lang, trying to figure her life out. She enjoys poetry, photography, films, and comedy to an unhealthy degree and hopes to end up as an answer on the which famous NewSchooler are you quiz. Go Narwhals!
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