what mindfulness means to me

Monday, January 13, 2014

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"frugality is one of the most beautiful and joyful words in the english language, and yet one that we are culturally cut off from understanding and enjoying. the consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things, and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things"
- elise boulding
 
in the past few weeks, i've seen a lot of discussions cropping up on the web about mindfulness. it may seem clich√© that these discussions are happening in the new year when people idealistically renew their sense of self, but the concept of mindfulness is an important one to consider, especially in our hyperconsumerist society.
 
the practise of mindfulness is rooted in buddhism and meditation, and more recently has been used to treat a variety of psychological conditions. being mindful means to live in the present moment, to have peace in oneself, and to acknowledge and accept each thought, feeling and sensation.
 
being mindful has implications for everything we consume in our daily lives, but i'm particularly interested in it's application to shopping. it's evident that compulsive spending is driven in part by deeper psychological issues, and the need to fill an emotional void with indulgent spending. as such, engaging in mindfulness involves exploring those issues that fuel compulsive spending, giving light to why mindless consumption is so repetitious and persistent in people's lives. it's only after addressing these behaviours that the pattern can be broken, and compulsive spending problems can be curtailed.
 
i'm guilty of mindless consumption - of buying things i didn't need because i was bored, unhappy or trying to distract myself from the task at hand. this year, i want to practise present-centred awareness and learn to appreciate what i have, comforted in the knowledge that i own more than enough to be truly happy. i want to commit to reducing my possessions, not increasing them. if i truly have a need, i will seek objects that serve a purpose, and favour function over form. it's not necessarily about spending less, but about seeking quality and longevity in the limited pieces i own.
 
the end goal is to stop spending my time consuming for the sake of consuming, and to focus my attention on experiencing things that bring me peace and happiness. 

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