Mindful Consumption

Buddhist engaged in mindful consumption of meal

Mindful Consumption

I started my journey of mindful consumption almost 10 years ago after reading the following words by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

“When I drink my tea mindfully, I can see the universe in my tea.”

I had no understanding of what the words meant. At best, I was only able to sense a profoundly deep nature of such a practice. Although I did not understand the words, when I read them, something inside me woke up. I knew at a very deep level that I had found something I had been searching for.

The practice of mindful  consumption revolutionizes. It has the capacity to revolutionize you and it has the capacity to revolutionize our world. I drink my tea differently than I did 10 years ago. Before I practiced mindful consumption, I practiced mind-lessness and forgetfulness. I would drink my tea in the morning while checking my email, making a shopping list and watching the news all at the same time. I did not taste or enjoy my tea. In our fast-paced world, we proudly, call this “multi-tasking”.

Mindful consumption of tea
Consume in a manner that grows your capacity for love and peace.

Being proud of multi-tasking is ignorant. It is the same as being proud of not showing up to live your own life.

Where is your attention when you are multi-tasking? Scattered. Nowhere. Everywhere. My tea is gone and I have no recollection of drinking it. I never tasted it and did not enjoy the experience. When we live mindlessly, we grow a sense of boredom or dissatisfaction with our lives because we are only giving it half of our attention.  The act of mindlessness and forgetfulness then becomes habituated. After beginning my practice of mindfulness, and my awareness grew, I realized most of my consuming was mindless. I would look down at an empty bag of potato chips, and not remember eating one bite. Everything thing we do with mindlessness has a karmic effect. If I eat potato chips mindlessly, the consequences are not so big. Only my cholesterol level and my mass. I don’t feel well afterwards and I gain weight.

Other types of consumption done mindlessly have big karmic effects. I began to have a deeper awareness of all types of consumption. I realized my ears, eyes, mouth, and mind all consumed mindlessly.  What we watch on TV or read is consumption. The images your children see on video games is eye and mind consumption. Consumption of trashy and violent movies or video games desensitizes us to the images of violence which go into our consciousness.

When we are listening, we are consuming. When you are listening to resolve a misunderstanding with another, be mindful of how you are listening. If your listening has the qualities of impatience, anger and judgement, there will be karmic effects to the outcome of your conversation. If you can listen with patience, peace, and openness, there will be a different outcome.

Man and woman arguing. Mindful consumption includes mindful listening
Mindful listening changes the outcome of difficult relationships. It has the qualities of patience and openness.

We can either choose to consume in a manner that supports or un-supports our mindfulness practice. We can consume material that makes us smarter and refreshed or more ignorant and unconscious.

be in peace – diane

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  • Latisha

    This makes complete sense to me. I do feel like my consumption of certain material is contributing to my impatience, increased emotional reaction, and thus sabotaging my ability to be mindful and present.

  • Jeremy Stuckey

    Reading through this helped me come to the realization that multi tasking has left me doing mindless tasks. Its hard to step back and even remember what I was working on in the first place. Keep up the blog posts, they seemed to have helped me a lot in my journey. Recommended this to several friends of mine and thank you for sharing your knowledge on this subject with us.

    • Diane Chrestman

      I am glad you found it helpful. Remember to keep coming back to the practice when you realize you have been practicing forgetfulness and not mindfulness. We come back to the practice again and again as we grow.

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