For many the holidays are a season of excess. We feast on delicious food and drinks. We splurge on gifts. We binge on holiday movies and TV specials. We indulge ourselves by accepting too many social invites. We overextend and exhaust ourselves in the process.
I came across this passage about mindful consumption by Thich Nhat Hanh. He discusses how we over-consume in our day-to-day life, filling our bodies, minds, and spirits with toxins. For some, toxins can be unhealthy foods and for others, toxins can be dwelling on negative newscasts. He suggests that the toxins we consume are depleting not just ourselves, but also your loved ones, the community, and the planet.
One of the ways we can consume more mindfully is to slow down and make intentions. Last holiday season, I was feeling particularly exhausted after a difficult year. I knew that visiting family during Christmas may only add to my tiredness so instead of doing too much, I did fewer things but with more mindful intention. For example, instead of hanging around my nieces and nephews everyday, I made special times where we could bond over activities. One day we made and decorated cookies. On another day we coloured. At the end of the holiday season, I felt restored and renewed.
Another way of practising mindful consumption is to make intentions with your purchasing power. Spend money on things that are local, hand-made, eco-friendly. Before buying gifts, ask yourself if this is something the person would value, use, appreciate? The city of Vancouver in recent years has done an annual Christmas advertising campaign which focuses on giving experiences rather than items as a way of reducing the amount of waste that is accumulated at this time of year. What they are really promoting is a form of mindful consumption.
What are the things that are toxins in your life? One way of determining what these are is by noting how you feel after you have consumed them. What I have noticed is healthy food will energize me, whereas unhealthy food will make me tired and unmotivated. Positive habits will lift my spirit, whereas negative habits will drag me down.
The next step is to make an intention to eliminate or at least reduce these habits. Treat it like an experiment. Observe the changes in your life and allow your observations to affirm your commitment to the practice of mindful consuming.
What do you commit to reducing in the coming weeks? We’d love to hear your plans in the comment section.