Time to live as if oil cost $20/gallon

I suppose this is off topic, but I have to start doing something. And writing is one thing I can do. Please join me in changing the way you live.

The Gulf of Mexico Oil spill is incomprehensible. 19 million gallons of oil, likely more, have poured out of a hole we drilled into the sea floor. There is no way I can fathom the volume of 19 million gallons of oil. I try to wrap my head around it, I look at pictures on line, but the numbers are so big that I cannot really understand. It is beyond the possibilities of my imagination.

I live in Oregon. I have been to the Gulf of Mexico a few times in my life. I know the water is warm. The waves are small. Novels I have read paint the picture of an easy slow-paced life in a rich abundant landscape. I can imagine vacationing at the shore and feasting on shrimp po’boys and seafood gumbo. I can imagine the wetlands, the beaches, the smell of the air, the call of sea birds.

And I can imagine the oil washing on shore. a black sticky blanket of death. Death spreading and spreading out from a small hole we poked in the earth. The death at the surface and the edges of the gulf is relatively easy to imagine, but the death is deeper, thicker and wider than my imaginations can conjure.

We may have killed the Gulf of Mexico. The ecosystem is unlikely to recover in my lifetime. The oil is spreading from the Gulf into the Atlantic Ocean. If the oil continues to spill, the world is going to change. It feels as if we have crossed a precipice, stepped off the razors edge, and that we are falling to toward an unknown end.

And I feel powerless. Any action I can imagine feels small and inconsequential. And yet, taking those small actions are exactly what I can do to make a difference.

I consume much more petroleum than I need to. Every day I throw away plastic packaging. That packaging is petroleum that I used just once, for a short period of time, and is now headed to the landfill. Every day I get into a car to drive somewhere. Every day the cheapness of petroleum means that disposable items are cheaper than reusable items. The disposable culture is a luxury of my lifetime. Really, only in the past 40 years or so have disposable items been so cheap and abundant. It is time to change.

Here is something we can do today: live as if we bore the real costs of petroleum. Live as if gasoline cost $20/gallon. Live as if plastic containers doubled or tripled the cost of an item. Live as if the meat you ate bore the real cost of the petroleum it took to bring it to your table. Live as if you were aware that the price of your plastic to-go cup was an oyster bed, a coral reef, a school of shrimp, a fisherman’s livelihood.

Watch carefully every day, the small accumulation of petroleum products that you use. How many pieces of plastic do you dispose of each day? How many miles do you drive? How much meat do you eat? Can you slow down your consumption? For just one day, can you live without disposable plastic? For just one day, can you walk or bike everywhere you need to go? For just one day, can eat a vegetarian diet?

The average American consumes 3 ½ gallons of oil each day. Some of that in the form of gasoline, but the list of petroleum products we consume includes: solvents, floor wax, football cleats, lipstick, cortisone, computer parts, hair coloring, dice, house paint, tooth brushes, DVDs, eyeglasses, tents, clothing, toothpaste, golf balls, vitamin capsules and thousands of other items around us.

With just a little forethought, I can reduce what I consume. I can remember to take my bags to the grocery store. I can remember to take to-go containers with me to restaurants. I can give myself enough time to walk or bike to my destination. I can purchase items in bulk and choose products that use the least amount of packaging.

It may only be a tiny drop when compared with 19 million gallons of oil, but it is my drop. And if we all make the decision to use less, we can decrease the demand for petroleum and stop poking holes in the planet.


More yoga for digestion: Apanasana Cycle

Prana is the yogic word for the energy of life. The yogis describe a variety of Pranas that flow in different directions through and around the body. Each prana has its own purpose in our physical function and health. Apana is the energy that cleanses the body. It is a downward flowing energy that keeps us connected to our earthiness. Apana is the energy of elimination and of letting go. Apana is the energy that moves with nourishment through the physical body. As such, a good flow of Apana is necessary for good digestion.

Apanasana is designed to stimulate the flow of Apana (posture). To practice Apanasana begin by lying down with your back on the floor, your head supported with a small lift as necessary, your knees either bent or your legs extended along the floor. Make sure the low back feels comfortable.

Draw first your right knee into your chest and give it a gentle squeeze. You can rock your knee right and left as you hold the knee into the belly. The left leg can rest with either the sole of the foot on the floor or the leg fully extended along the floor. Make sure your low back is comfortable. Hold the knee into the belly for 20 to 60 seconds. Then release the right leg, rest for a few breaths and repeat on the left side.

Second, draw both knees into your belly at the same time. Support your legs with your hands holding either outside or behind the knees. You may draw your head up from the floor and curl in toward your knees. Do not lift your head if you have any neck pain or irritation. Hold the knees into the belly for up to 2 minutes. Then rest.

Third, return to the first position with the right knee tucked into the belly. Hold your right knee with your left hand and extend your right arm along the floor, directly out from your right shoulder. Draw your right knee to the left, to hover over your left hip. Breath into the right hip for about 6 breath cycles, opening and stretching the hip. Then draw right knee further to the left, rotating your hips to come into a supine twist. There is always some balance to find between either drawing the knee to the floor or keeping the shoulders on the floor. Find the position that optimally stretches the back and compresses the lower abdomen. Hold for up to 2 minutes and then repeat on the second side.

These poses massage and stimulate the lower digestive track. They are particularly useful when you are having digestive problems while traveling. These poses should not be practiced during pregnancy.