Self-Care Meets Earth-Care

Woman lying on sofa reading laptop

Tara Muenz, Conservation Ecologist

Tara Muenz aquatic scientist and conservation educator

I collaborated with Tara Muenz, a soulful and heart-centered Conservation Ecologist, on this post, and together we offer you practical ways to make a difference for Mother Earth.

Tara uses the 3 A’s of Awareness, Appreciation, and Action, and I love this way of framing the connection to ourselves and the Earth. I use the 3 A’s as our framework below.

Pick a few ideas to start with, and slowly incorporate additional practices and resources into your daily life. In this way, it’s not overwhelming and helps you make small, sustainable changes over time.


Awareness is being present in the present moment (which is a present!). You are probably familiar with mindfulness as a practice or meditation to help you be hyper-aware of what you’re feeling and sensing.

Buddhist teacher and author, Thich Nhat Hanh offers this beautiful wisdom of awareness of our interconnection to Mother Earth:
You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you.
Mother Earth is not just your environment.
In that insight of inter-being,
it is possible to have real communication with the Earth,
which is the highest form of prayer.

How can we cultivate this in relation to the Earth? Tara offers some possibilities:

  • Feel the texture of a tree’s bark
  • Watch the moon move across the night sky
  • Sense the wetness of raindrops on your face
  • Listen to trees creaking in the wind
  • Take a deep breath when you’re in nature

Other Ways to Cultivate Awareness

woman being relaxed in nature communing with a leaf


We need to be aware before we can appreciate, and as Tara points out, as our awareness grows our appreciation will, too. Meditation of any kind can be a powerful way to increase awareness of the present moment and open our soul, heart, mind, and body to help us appreciate more.

Appreciate the Unappreciated

Just as it can be easy to appreciate people who are nice to us, it can also be easy to appreciate the beautiful aspects of Mother Earth. Can we go deeper and appreciate the complexities and the unbeautiful aspects of ourselves, others, and our Earth as well?

I remember a meditation teacher asking the class to raise their hand if they loved their city. This class was taking place in a city that currently has many challenges—terrorism, crime, etc. No one in the class raised their hand. He laughed and said, why wouldn’t you love your city?! You live here!

Try This

Can we apply this love in a similar way to aspects of life that are difficult to love? Can you love the shadow parts of yourself and others that challenge you? Can you love your city? Can you extend your Earth appreciation to include loving the unbeautiful parts of the planet?

Can you have Earth appreciation for:

  • The garbage truck that picks up our trash
  • The landfill that holds our garbage
  • The gas that uses Mother Earth’s fuel and enables us to travel in our cars, trains, planes, etc.
  • The water that holds our sewage
  • The electricity that enables us to see in the dark, connect with each other through Wifi, use our smart devices, and power innumerable areas of our life?

Other Ways to Cultivate Appreciation

Get your Vitamin N
It’s been shown in research that many people are suffering from ‘nature deficit disorder’ or the lack of ‘Vitamin ‘N’ (nature). There are many benefits to being outdoors–calming emotions, regulating heart rate, increasing dopamine and serotonin feel-good hormones, and reducing overall stress. Spending a few minutes in nature each day and increasing to several hours or more each week will help you to align with your ‘true nature’—your joyful, peaceful, loving self.

  • Here’s a site with great infographics and literature on the benefits of nature from the Children’s Nature Network.
  • Here are some ideas and notice how things shift
    • Go for a walk
    • Breathe with a plant or tree
    • Lean against a tree and imagine the roots of the tree grounding down, imagine roots extending from your feet
    • Indoors: be with your plants or rest with a favorite nature object (such as a rock, pine cone, feather, etc.)

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woman hiking in nature with backpack and arms outstretched

Earth Day Meditations

Here are some unique meditations you can use to increase your appreciation for Mother Earth and also provide self-care for your own soul | heart | mind | body.

It’s a Wonderful World

Watch and listen to this rendition from IZ Kamakawiwo’ole and feel the love from his heart, as well as for the places highlighted on Mother Earth.

Nature Meditations

Tara offers beautiful meditative videos of rivers, oceans, and waterscapes across the planet. You can watch, listen, and relax, receiving messages from the water, and offer love and gratitude to the water. (Hint: you can put it on loop to replay.)

Atlantic Ocean Meditation


River Water in Pennsylvania Meditation


A Powerful Healing Mantra: Love Peace Harmony

Jonathan Araki sings this healing song in Hawaiian to his garden and notices improved output. Inspiring (and I love his voice)!

Love, Peace, Harmony for Kids & Teachers

And here’s another post for kids and teachers using this healing song Love Peace Harmony in creative ways with 4th grade teacher Helen Chan.

Earth Appreciation

many people's hands planting seedlings in soil together


Becoming more mindful and appreciating with greater awareness how we relate to the Earth and ourselves can prompt us to evaluate our behaviors and daily habits. Then we are inspired us to take action and make positive changes.

Make a Pledge for the Planet

From Tara: Write down on a piece of paper and post on your refrigerator or somewhere you look often, the following pledge:

I pledge to ___________________________.

(Think about a little positive action you can take for the Earth that will offer more kindness or better use of resources like water, paper/trees, oil/gasoline, etc.).

A few examples to inspire:

  • I pledge to re-use my cup or plate throughout the day.
  • I pledge to line dry my clothing after it’s washed.
  • I pledge to reduce my packaging consumption and buy in bulk.
  • I pledge to only buy clothing from slow fashion sources.

Some additional ideas:

  • Plant a garden or join a community garden.
  • Grow herbs in your home if you don’t have outdoor space.
  • Pick up litter.
  • Use less water.
  • Use less electricity.
  • Buy fewer packaged groceries.

Other Ways to Cultivate Action

It’s important to acknowledge that there are trade-offs and that there’s no perfect way to take care of Mother Earth. For example, while we might think of the negative environmental impact of living in a big city like New York, it’s also good to realize that city living can also offer benefits like being able to take the subway instead of driving. The density of people in the city allows for services to be condensed, for example shared heat and electricity in an office building or apartment building can be less costly then providing this for 25 homes in the suburbs or country.

On the other hand, living in the suburbs or a more rural places can allow more access to nature, the ability to grow vegetables, be more connected to the farmers that grow our food, etc.

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Reduce, Reuse, Recycle From Tara

Recommendations: Easy Swaps for Food & Body

For Food

For Body

Do-It-Yourself Fixes

Fast Fashion Fixes


Earth Day Events

Self-Care Meets Earth-Care

Earth Day 2023

  • Plant a tree: Below is an image of the two spruce saplings I planted as part of an Earth Day tree planting initiative a few years ago.

Plant a Million trees

The Great Global Cleanup®
This is a worldwide campaign to remove billions of pieces of trash from neighborhoods, beaches, rivers, lakes, trails, and parks — reducing waste and plastic pollution, improving habitats, and preventing harm to wildlife and humans. This program aims to continue clean ups every day of the year for a brighter, greener, and cleaner planet. Find an event near you or register your event here.


closeup of rose

The more we implement and integrate the 3 A’s of Awareness, Appreciation, and Action the more we realize that there is no separation—that we are a part of Mother Earth and Mother Earth is a part of us—our physical bodies, our homes, etc. This interconnectedness helps us go deeper into caring for ourselves and the Earth. Just as we wouldn’t leave garbage on the floor in our home, this can extend to anywhere we go. I hope this post inspires and motivates you to making every day Earth Day!

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