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Mindful : December 2017
the Google executive who started Goo- gle’s Search Inside Yourself program and who teaches and writes about mindfulness. And I listen to podcasts like Dan Harris’ “10% Happier.” Does meditation inform your work as an environmentalist? In many ways, it’s really at the heart of our vision about how to work for the good of the environment. Our philosophy at TNC is to find common ground with diverse parties in an effort to make environmental prog- ress. We believe that finding solutions for protecting the environment is a win–win proposition. Businesses can benefit; people around the world can benefit; governments and communi- ties can benefit. So we work with a lot of groups that might not at first seem to have an interest in environmental- ism. Our goal is to help these diverse interests understand that if we work together, we can make important progress that will benefit ever yone. For me, as CEO, when meeting with outside groups, mindfulness medita- tion really helps. To the extent that I practice mindfulness and behave that way, I do a better job fulfilling my duties as CEO, consistent with the approach we champion. I genu- inely believe there is a great untapped opportunity for environmental progress that can flow from a more mindful approach to working with diverse g roups. Can you give me an example? Sure. In our view, the biggest envi- ronmental challenge by far is climate change. It’s also the most difficult to address. It requires radical changes in how humankind sources its energy. Those changes are difficult, and they have a cost. But the costs and consequences of not acting are even greater. We want to do everything we can as an organization to mobilize humankind so that we can get on with addressing this biggest environmen- tal challenge of all. Unfortunately, in the US right now, one of the biggest challenges is the divisive and highly partisan climate of Capitol Hill on climate change. The US doesn’t have the kind of comprehensive, pragmatic, common-sense effective energy and climate policy that we need. Why not? One reason is the big divide between Republicans and Democrats, and between red and blue states. TNC has chapters in every state, red states and blue states alike. Each has a board of trustees representing diverse constituencies: Republican, Demo- crat, urban, rural. What brings them together is the simple fact that they care about nature and respect climate science. A few years ago we asked these groups to begin to engage on the subject of climate policy. And at first, there was some unease about this, especially in states that faced strong political headwinds. Some of these are states where coal is an important part of the economy, for example. And we understand that we have to get past such challenges. But as an organiza- tion we believe—even if it’s very dif- ficult—that we really need to address global climate change. And this is where the practice of mindfulness comes in for me. We encourage our team to engage with people who might strongly disag ree with us in a respect- ful way, an inclusive way, without vilifying anyone, looking for common ground. We work hard to understand where other people are coming from. I personally think the philosophy and approach of mindfulness helps inform our work. If I speak just for myself, I can say that from a mindfulness meditation practice, I’m better able to do the work of TNC. You have to walk the talk. You have to practice what you preach. And being a mindfulness practitioner helps me do that. How does mindfulness affect the way you experience nature? Nature and mindfulness inform each other in profound ways. They are both aligned. Nature can provide the same kind of calming, quieting effect, which is enormously therapeutic and joyous for me. And now, because I’ve learned a little bit about meditation, when I visit beautiful places to experi- ence nature, I try to bring a full sense of deep appreciation and gratitude. To the extent that mindfulness helps me appreciate nature at an even deeper level, it deepens my commitment to protecting these precious resources. → nature