A symbol of the Earth Citizen Movement that’s going steadily forward is the hwangchil tree. Hwangchil (Dendropanax mobifera lev) is a broad-leaved, evergreen perennial tree known for its many healing properties and the golden laquer made from it. It grows in any windy, hot, and humid coastal region.
The core goal of the Earth Citizen Movement—to create health, happiness, and peace for ourselves, other beings, and the earth—can be said to be very hwangchil-like. Hwangchil has a mild but distinct aroma that quickly calms the mind and body. According to some studies, hwangchil has also been found to strengthen liver function, promote healthy bones and gums, promote circulation, activate the metabolism, and reduce cholesterol. It also evens out skin tone when applied topically.
In order to support the movement, Ilchi Lee and his partners developed healing products with the leaves, bark, and roots of hwangchil. They’ve made soothing teas and cosmetics. They’ve also put it in honey and made elixirs from it. Now Ilchi Lee has received permission from the government of New Zealand to grow hwangchil trees at the Earth Village we are developing on the North Island.
The Earth Citizens Organization (ECO), a non-profit that heads the Earth Citizen Movement, has partnered with Body & Brain Yoga and Tai Chi for a SEED for Health campaign. This campaign aims to educate the public on how to take ownership of their health, naturally and holistically.
The campaign message says you do this by taking care of your SEED: Stress, Emotion, Exercise, and Diet.
This SEED for Health campaign picks up where it left off last year. In the summer of 2018, Body & Brain Yoga held many off-line events in cities where their centers are located. Now this important information is being spread online through an e-newsletter by Body & Brain. It offers tips and exercises for SEED management. Anyone can sign up for it here: newsletter.bodynbrain.com.
Despite having every modern convenience at our disposal and many luxuries our ancestors could only dream of, many of us still struggle with anxiety and depression. You don’t need an official diagnosis to be suffering from these conditions. All you might know is that you’re feeling sad, anxious, and disconnected from others.
It’s this disconnection many of us experience that can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation, and those feelings can cause an underlying sadness.
“There are more than two billion Facebook users worldwide with approximately 300 friends per user, but loneliness has surfaced as a greater public health risk than smoking,” Lee wrote. “People may have a lot of social media friends, but they don’t have that many true friends to turn to in real life, to talk to and share their hearts with comfortably.”
It can seem strange to think of yourself as disconnected when all day long you may be in touch with people through texts, emails, and social media. But the majority of these interactions aren’t in-depth—they are superficial. And if you’ve lost your connection to yourself, you have lost your best friend. It can be like trying to find your way out of the wilderness without a compass—you have lost your guide in life so it can be hard to navigate your way.
“Once you understand that disconnection is the underlying cause of your problems, then the solution also becomes clearer. All you have to do is mend your broken connections,” Lee writes. “Recover your connection with your body, your connection with your true self, and your connection with people and the world.”
If disconnection is one of the reasons for your depression and anxiety, the solution might be learning how to feel at home with yourself again, just as you did when you were a child. You can do that by getting a clear sense of who you are and what you want out of life.
Channeling Your Inner Child
Do you remember what it felt like to be a young child? You didn’t care what anyone thought of you—you dressed how you wanted to dress, and you spent your free days doing what you loved. You gave little, if any, thought to how others perceived you. You just followed your bliss wherever it took you.
To get in touch with the younger you, you may want to try meditation. There are many different methods of meditation you can use—the key is to make sure you are quieting your mind of all the thoughts and emotions that swirl around constantly throughout the day. Our minds are busy places, and meditation can be just the break you need to stop that constant internal chatter for a while.
“Meditators try various methods to rid themselves of those thoughts,” Lee wrote. “Some meditate while staring at a point drawn on a wall or at a flickering candle flame, some continuously focus on a koan, some repeat a mantra or specific phrase, and some concentrate entirely on the breath coming and going from their bodies.”
While controlling your breathing and concentrating on your mind can help you focus while meditating, Lee recommends taking that practice to the next level with energy meditation. With this, you feel the energy around you, inside of you, and outside of you. Focus on the energy that permeates our world.
The best way to begin with this exercise is to start small. Concentrate on one area—the hands can be a great place to begin—and try to feel the energy there. As you get better at opening your mind to the energy you feel, you can expand to different areas of the body.
“If you just sit there with your eyes closed, distracting thoughts will arise in your mind as you revert to your thinking brain,” Lee wrote. “But if you focus your awareness on the feeling of energy and keep focusing on expanding that feeling, your tangled thoughts will fall away before you know it. You will be fully immersed in yourself.”
When you’re in your meditative state, things will become much clearer to you. Make sure you pay attention to what your body, mind, and soul are trying to tell you. The clarity and inner peace you’ll gain should help dispel some of the depression and anxiety you feel.
Remember, you’re a work in progress—and the battles you’re fighting right now are only temporary. Everything can, and will, get better if you take a step back and do some inner work.
When you feel frustrated, what do you think is the cause? Is it things in your life not going your way, or disappointment in your own abilities? When you hit those walls says Ilchi Lee, New York Times bestselling author of CONNECT: How to Find Clarity and Expand Your Consciousness with Pineal Gland Meditation (Best Life Media 2019), at their foundation, there’s always only one cause: disconnection. Most importantly, it’s diconnection from yourself.
How can you be disconnected from yourself? According to Lee, each of us has an essential nature that has nothing to do with the presence of our body. We can live aware of this nature and its truths and wishes, or we can live oblivious to it (or somewhere in between). When you bring your awareness inside yourself and use your inner eye to see your true nature, you can see past the walls and limitations that are making you frustrated—whether those walls originate from inside of you or outside.
That inner eye, or “third eye,” Lee says, is our pineal gland. In CONNECT, he describes many ways to open and strengthen this eye so that you can not only be connected with yourself, but also everyone else, and even the earth. Imagine if you could feel peace in the midst of chaos, love in the face of judgment, or joy in the face of failure. How different would your life, and even the world be?
Ilchi Lee’s pineal gland meditation methods, while possibly sounding grand and esoteric, are actually quite simple. Even if you are someone who has a hard time concentrating or staying still, you can use Lee’s methods to get into a meditative state.
These methods use the energy principles discovered since ancient times in Asia, especially in his native Korea, to clear away new and old thoughts and emotions that are clouding up or discoloring your inner sight. And he uses them to bulk up your inner strength and turn up your inner brightness. You can even use them to help your body heal itself of any aches, pains, or imbalances you may have.
CONNECT will be officially released July 15th, but you can pre-order it now at major online booksellers. At the time of its release, you’ll be able to experience it as a paperback, Kindle ebook, or audiobook. Learn more about the book at ConnectbyIlchi.com.
So much of what we see on television and movies, in magazines, and online is geared, whether intentionally or unintentionally, toward making us feel bad about ourselves. We think if we could only be skinnier, prettier, or richer, we would finally feel good about ourselves. But we won’t find the love we need if we keep looking for external validation. We need to look inward for that, according to bestselling author Ilchi Lee.
Sometimes, creating feelings of self-approval can be as easy as turning on some inspiring music. Music has been important to mankind since the beginning of time, and it continues to be a universal way of expressing and exploring our feelings.
A K-pop group, BTS, also called the Bangtan Boys or, now, Behind the Scene, is one of the groups that is leading the charge for self-approval with songs that remind people to feel good about themselves. The South Korean boy band has seven members and has scored big with fans with hits like “Love Myself,” which carry messages many of us could benefit from.
Lee’s Take on the Importance of Loving Yourself
When you feel bad about yourself, you don’t feel love for yourself. That doesn’t only impact you, however. It can be hard to make connections with the people and places around you as well. You don’t feel as if you are worthy of the love of others—you can feel disengaged and isolated, so you push them away.
It’s hard to want to improve mankind and the world around you when you have so many feelings of negativity. That’s why it’s crucial to find a way to look inward, like what you see, and realize you can make a difference when you accept all that you are—and even all that you aren’t. Loving yourself opens you up to loving others, feeling empathy, and wanting to work toward the greater good. Instead of feeling isolated, you begin to feel as if you are a worthy and valued member of a team.
But the first step to loving yourself is getting to know yourself. That involves peeling back the superficial layers many of us use to describe ourselves and looking at our core beliefs and goals instead.
“When asked, ‘Who are you?’ people can’t answer, no matter how high their level of education or voluminous their knowledge. They’d be able to give their name. That name, though, is not who they are,” Lee said. “Knowing your true worth is different from knowledge. Once we’ve discovered our worth, we can love ourselves, we can heal ourselves, we can teach ourselves, and we can give ourselves enlightenment.”
Lee loves the message BTS is trying to put out for its audience—that they shouldn’t wander in search of love. Instead, they should look internally for that love. And once that love is unlocked, your heart and mind will be in synch so you’ll be able to use your brain to its fullest capacity.
Many people mistakenly think their brain isn’t worth much. They can feel inferior or even dumb because they didn’t do well in traditional school. But there are all different kinds of intelligence. And having emotional intelligence is every bit as important, if not more important, than the lessons you’ll learn about math and science in school.
“Did the Bangtan Boys have good grades? Did they graduate from good middle schools or high schools? No,” Lee said. “How did they become so famous, then? They discovered their self-worth and did what they really wanted to do. And the people around them helped, enabling them to do that. What I’m saying is that it wasn’t compulsory education.”
After you find a way to love yourself, Lee said, you also learn to heal yourself and teach yourself by using brain power. You begin to believe in yourself, knowing you can do things you once thought were impossible.
“It is ultimately the brain that discovers great dreams. It is also the brain that causes us to think, ‘This is it!’ of those great dreams. Your brain must awaken. Those whose brains are awake can find a great dream,” Lee said. “If your brain is not awake, though you have eyes, you cannot see, and though you have ears, you cannot hear. Your brain is locked, so your eyes and ears don’t open.”
By learning to love yourself, believing in yourself, caring about others, remembering you are part of the bigger picture, and unlocking the power of your brain, you can achieve great things—both for yourself and for the world.
Do you ever check out the morning or nightly news and think there’s no hope for this world? So many bad things are happening and we’re hearing about them all through an endless news cycle. It can seem there’s too much bad and not enough good in the world.
Here are some tips for having hope and how to better the world with it even when things seem their darkest.
Think Outside the Box
In Earth Management, Lee shares a story in his life about a time he had no hope, and how a pile of trash changed all that for him.
When Lee was younger, his life wasn’t going well—he felt he had become an embarrassment to his family and his future wasn’t going the way it was expected to. He had no hope left that things would ever work out for him.
As he was walking in his neighborhood one day, he saw a pile of garbage underneath a bridge. That trash reminded him of himself.
“The word trash refers to something that has been used and then discarded, something no longer worth using. I felt completely hopeless, like trash,” he wrote.
That’s when Lee had a novel concept—he could create hope by finding a purpose for that trash. He could turn it into compost fertilizer, which would then do something good for the world and the people in it.
Despite the odd looks from others, Lee hauled that trash until his body was sore and bruised from the weight of it. He dug deep holes, filled them with the trash and soil, and planted pumpkin seeds in it. Over time, those pumpkins grew big and plentiful, and Lee shared them with his neighbors and the local cows.
He had found hope in the unlikeliest of places—a trash pile—and it all began with one unorthodox idea. That act turned his life around by giving him a sense of pride and teaching him that hope could be found anywhere.
You Must Act
It’s not enough to have an idea or to have hope; you must act upon that idea. You may hope you’ll graduate from college with flying colors, but unless you act upon that desire by studying, you’re unlikely to achieve that vision.
It’s the same concept when it comes to improving the world—if you aren’t willing to roll up your sleeves and do the necessary work, you won’t be able to change anything. Lee learned that with his pumpkin endeavor. Hauling all the trash and digging those holes was back-breaking work, but Lee kept at it because it was important to him.
“Since then, if I believe something is right, I act on it right away. Even now, the only important thing for me is if what I’m doing is right, and if it is something our society needs. If it’s the right thing and it’s needed, I just do it right away,” he wrote.
Don’t Worry About Tomorrow
Sometimes we can get so caught up in long-term planning and how things can go wrong over time that we let ourselves get talked out of trying in the first place.
Do you ever wonder how long-distance runners can run such amazing distances? For most people, the idea of running a marathon, 26.2 miles, is unthinkable. But what long-distance runners do is break the task into bite-size pieces. They only worry about what they are doing that day. They worry about the run that they’re doing at that moment—not the run they’ll have to do the day of the marathon. And when they are running their marathon, they focus on the mile they are running at that moment—not the miles still ahead of them. They stay in the moment. That’s something Lee does as well to keep his hope going.
“There is something I always say to myself. ‘There is no tomorrow for me. I only exist in the here and now. That is why I must do whatever I can right now,’” he wrote. “If you keep habituating yourself this way, you can do ten years’ work in one year. I have been working like this for the past thirty-six years, and that is how I got to where I am today.”
That’s what living in the moment can do for you—it removes your biggest stumbling blocks. Think about how much hope you can spread and how much good you can do for the world once you get your biggest foes—negativity, inactivity, and disbelief—out of the way.
Have you ever known some people who seem to have the power of positivity on their side? It seems as if there is nothing they can’t accomplish—no task too big, no challenge too overwhelming.
But then there is the opposite type of person, the ones who seem overcome with negativity. They seem to believe they are destined for failure, so much so that there is no point in attempting anything challenging anyway.
“I am not a neuroscientist, but I have seen firsthand exactly how powerful the human brain can be, and I have been amazed at how people’s lives can change when they begin to realize that they have the power to use their brains as they truly wish,” Lee said in Earth Citizen.
Thinking negatively and voicing those thoughts can be a source of stress that overrides your brain and diminishes your confidence. Even being around negative people can do the same. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Like anything else, negative and positive thinking can be learned. But first you have to make a choice—what type of person do you want to be?
Think About Completion Instead of Success
When a person focuses on success, they set themselves up for negative thoughts. There will always be someone richer, smarter, prettier, or thinner than they are.
“People who seek success feel good only when they are better than others, and they feel very bad when they don’t do as well as others,” Lee wrote in Earth Management.
But by focusing on completion, for instance, you open yourself to positive thinking. If you decide you want to run your first ever 5K race, for example, you might feel pretty bad about yourself if you focus solely on success. You won’t take home a performance medal—those will be won by seasoned runners who have been running consistently and training for much longer than you have. If you compare yourself to those runners, you’ll feel horrible about your time as your cross the finish line. The negativity will creep in.
But if you think of your experience in a different fashion and you focus on completion, you’ll feel great about yourself and your accomplishment no matter what time you end up getting. You’ll appreciate that you were able to set a goal and finish it, and you’ll marvel over the things your body is able to do.
Spend More Time with Those We Love
So much about our world creates an isolated existence. Many of us go to work at jobs where we interact more with computers and machinery than we do with people. Then when we come home, a lot of us spend our free time staring at our computers, tablets, and phones. This kind of behavior can lead to negative thoughts and feelings of isolation.
“When we are not alone, but together, when we have harmonious relationships with the people around us, we can become happier, and we can better solve the problems we face,” Lee said.
Lee points to forming close relationships with our loved ones as a way to stay more positive. In particular, spending time with children can bring a lot of positivity into our lives. Seeing their faces light up over the simplest of things can banish negativity almost instantly.
Get Back to Nature
Many of us don’t spend enough time outside, in a place that speaks to our soul. Think about how you feel when you spend time on a beach, hearing the waves crash around you, and watching the glistening water. It’s hard to feel negative when seeing a sight like that. And it’s hard to feel overly sorry for yourself because it helps you to realize there is a much bigger world out there. You and your problems aren’t the center of the universe, even if it feels like they are at times.
Nature can be an instant pick-me-up that can put positive thoughts and feelings back in your heart. “Our bodies can actually commune with the energy of nature through energy training, and they can achieve a harmonious, balanced state,” Lee said.
Like anything else you’ll do, practicing positivity is a habit. It’s okay to fail—we all have negative thoughts sometimes. But the key is to keep trying, to never stop attempting to be the best, most positive version of yourself you can.
“Life is meant to push onward and upward, always evolving to a higher, more well-adapted form,” Lee writes in Earth Citizen.
Trying to change the world when you’re just one person is an overwhelming prospect. But instead of getting frustrated when you see you aren’t able to make a tidal wave of change, focus on creating small ripples instead.
Nothing can give you a greater sense of appreciation for the Earth and what it can do than growing something. Whether you live in a rural area with plenty of backyard space for a full garden or you are an urban dweller with only a rooftop or windowsill to work with, it’s possible to grow a vegetable or herb. If you need to grow your produce in a small container, that’s ok too.
Just try it, and watch your wonder grow with it. You’ll feel inspired to take better care of the Earth by not littering and cleaning up litter when you see it. Or you might feel motivated to begin composting.
If you have enough for a bountiful garden, you can increase the ripples you make by sharing some produce with a stranger or a loved one.
In his younger years, Lee learned a greater appreciation for the Earth by planting pumpkin seeds on top of a makeshift landfill, and he found he could feel and give joy by sharing those pumpkins.
2. Try to See Similarities in People Instead of Differences
One of the biggest sources of negativity and discord in the world comes from politics. We often disagree with—and sometimes downright dislike—people who do not think as we do. Instead of letting those differences drive us apart, however, we should let our similarities draw us together. It’s only when we think of each other as all fighting for the same overall cause that we’ll truly be able to work together for the good of humanity and the planet.
“The way I see it, there are really only three things that people want: health, happiness, and peace. When we fight over religions or political ideology, we are simply fighting over the ways to get these three basic things,” he wrote.
Remembering there is more than one way to achieve those goals may help you to focus on our similarities instead of differences. If everyone were to do that, this world would be a much more peaceful place to live.
3. Redefine Your Purpose
Everyone is driven by purpose in some way or fashion. That purpose might be to work toward their dream career, to save up enough money for the car they’ve always wanted, or even to look important to other people.
While you don’t have to abandon your sense of purpose altogether, to make positive ripples in the world, perhaps you should consider redefining it or expanding it. Once your purpose changes – once you purposefully seek to be the best person you can be for the world instead of solely for yourself—you’ll notice a change in your thoughts and your actions. You’ll become less self-involved and start working for the greater good.
As Lee said in Earth Management, “All behavior arises out of a person’s definition of their own purpose.”
4. Create Good Relationships
Many of us have good relationships with our families, and we likely have a true friend or two we have in our corner as well. But it’s time for many of us to expand our small circles. It will help us feel more connected to our fellow citizens. And those relationships can turn into collaborations that may ultimately help us solve the problem of how best to be stewards of this planet.
“When we are not alone, but together, when we have harmonious relationships with the people around us, we can become happier, and we can better solve the problems we face,” Lee said in Earth Management.
Creating and fostering a sense of cooperation, instead of singularity, will benefit our world in multiple ways.
5. Don’t Watch Too Much News Coverage
While many of these tips are things you can do, this one focuses on what you should avoid. Watching too much news coverage can be counterproductive to your efforts to make a positive impact upon the world around you.
“Pick up a newspaper or flip on the evening news, and you will be bombarded with information from innumerable experts telling you that the biosphere is crumbling, the economy is on thin ice, and our educational system is failing,” Lee writes in Earth Citizen.
The negativity of all the news being reported can make you think it’s a lost cause to try to do anything positive. But that’s false. Your small acts can have a big difference in someone’s life or for the prosperity of the Earth. And that’s worth the effort. So before you turn on that television and start feeling hopeless, go for a quiet walk in nature instead and recommit yourself to being a good citizen of the world.
Ilchi Lee has always looked for simple ways people can maintain their health on their own. He maintains that we need to take responsibility for our own body, mind, and spirit.
Lee has created many mindful exercises in order for individuals and communities to accomplish this. They are all bundled into his Brain Education method. But he’s also created new ways of thinking about health, as well as non-profit organizations that promote healthy, mindful, and sustainable living using his methods.
The premise behind SEED for Health is that it only takes making small changes to your lifestyle to create big results. The campaign provides ways to manage four key areas of health, your SEED: Stress, Exercise, Emotions, Diet. It is spreading these seeds of wisdom through ECO’s online and offline networks.
ECO says, “Changing our lifestyles for better health is possible and enjoyable. We can make this change easier and even more powerful by caring for each other in our communities together.” They believe that “health is our natural right, and a healthier world is the greatest legacy we can leave behind for the next generation.”
Earth Management means seeing the earth as something to be managed. Not in any era of human history has anyone talked about Earth Management. The earth has only been perceived as an object to be exploited for resources and developed for human wealth and convenience. It has been seen as something to plunder to power this industrial civilization and this capitalistic system. As such, it has degenerated into a dump site, a receptacle for all kinds of pollutants. Now, we are experiencing the consequences of this dangerous perspective. The earth’s crisis is a life crisis.
We must look at the earth as an object in need of management. To make the planet sustainable, we need a form of management capable of giving birth to a new civilization that fosters coexistence. People, groups, and nations must rise to the challenge of managing the earth.
Perhaps it would be easier if I call it environmental management. Earth Management is a form of management centered on the global environment. We could even call it “nature management.” Earth Management, environmental management, nature management—these all mean the same thing, but what is essential is that it must include people.
As Gus Speth, the environmental scientist Professor Pastreich mentioned previously, has said, global problems, environmental problems will no longer be solved by clinging in a limited way only to the environment and the earth. People are the ones who caused these problems. A fundamental solution to environmental problems is impossible unless there is a change in the consciousness of people, the ones contributing to them.
As little as a century ago, the largest unit of organization, and people’s major focus of attention, was the state. At that time, there was no need for something called “Earth Management.” It was enough if your country, and only yours, became wealthy and powerful. That’s why imperialism predominated back then, with some nations ruling other countries or peoples with their strong economic and military power.
Now, though, with the development of transportation, information, telecommunications, and industry, we’ve already transcended national borders and are moving into the era of a global village. We can immediately see what’s happening on the other side of the globe right now with our own eyes through TV or the Internet, while we drink drinks and wear clothes of the same multinational brands. However, our consciousness remains trapped within the confines of the old belief systems defined by national borders. Although the reality has changed, we have been unknowingly trained in these beliefs by our countries, cultures, and religions our entire lives. Far too many barriers block our way to a single global village in the truest sense.
The environmental crisis facing the human species right now, however, can no longer be solved by regional and organizational selfishness. Damage due to environmental destruction, such as global warming, desertification, and biodiversity loss, has already gone beyond national borders and is having an impact globally. To solve these problems, we now need Earth Management, which sees the earth as united and approaches issues on a global level.