Reflection is central to mindfulness. It’s considering what we hope to gain from our brief lives on Earth and how we can give back to the forces that brought us here.
Mindfulness is no longer limited to spiritual people, social workers or multi crore businesses. Now general public is turning to mindfulness as a corrective to stress, technological advancements, digital distractions, and their karmic consequences. People are waking up to the need to help others and to be more tolerant of their peers. The progress is slow, but we can see that the world is moving toward a more sensitive and sensible society that will truly demonstrate the live and let live policy.
Mindfulness does not have to be associated with meditation. Although meditation is a sure-fire way to release emotional baggage and stress, engaging in your favorite creative activity, whether it’s baking, doodling, or singing in the shower, will quiet your thoughts as you enter a state of flow.
Each of us must acknowledge that we are extracting far more from the universe than we’ll ever be able to return. We cannot abandon technology or become saints, nor can we overnight stop the masses from destroying our planet, but we must all reinstate our connection to nature or else our children will suffer. Given the recent floods and storms, who knows if even more severe disasters may strike during our own lifetime.
The following are examples of reckless actions toward our natural resources. They were distributed in a group chat. The author’s identity is unknown, but I sincerely thank him for these eye-openers!
- Do we really need the water that is being poured into our glass at the restaurant?
Will that water not go down the drain (literally) when we leave our table? Are we being fair to those who have to walk for miles to get drinking water, and yet what they get isn’t even safe to drink?
- Do we really need to wrap that gift by buying ‘free’ gift wrapping paper?
Will that gleaming/non-biodegradable paper be thrown away (literally) once the gift is opened?
- Do we really need to buy gifts just to make a good impression, when we don’t know if the receiver will use or need the gifts?
Isn’t it wiser to buy fruits or dry fruits with the same amount of money and with almost certainty that they will be consumed?
- What do we do when we are at a buffet?
Do we listen to our stomachs, or do we pile everything on our plate (whether it’s free or we’ve paid for it all)? Do we teach our children to take only what they can consume?
- What do we do when the guy at Subway (the foodchain) offers us two forks and four tissue papers when we are going to be eating alone?
Do we return one fork and three tissue papers (or all four, if we carry our own hanky) to him or we just walk away from the counter and throw away unused forks and tissue papers?
- Just because something is ‘bio-degradable, should we use it?
Can we reduce our use of paper and cloth bags because a tree was felled to make the paper and the earth was subjected to atrocities to make the cloth?
- What happens when we take a Thaali (Plates served with predefined food items given to each customer at a fixed amount in some Indian restaurants)?
There are so many things we know we might not eat (eg.: Katori [a small bowl] of Dahi or that Bengali mithai). Do we return it immediately so that it can be offered to someone else or do we let it sit on our plate and leave it untouched only to be thrown away later?
- Do we really need that cotton Kurti/Shirt because it looks cool?
The fashion industry is far eviler than what meets our eye. From what it does to the environment while growing cotton and jute to how it treats humans to how it treats textiles and garment waste is mind-bogglingly dirty.
- Do we really need that extra pair of shoes because we don’t have ‘that’ particular shade of orange?
Do we consider that once processed, footwear (including leather) is nearly impossible to degrade from the face of the earth?
- Do we need to cook elaborate meals when guests visit us?
Can we cook just enough food so that everyone, including ourselves, has a good time and no food goes to waste? Do we eat the same food for the next three days, even though it has lost all of its nutrients?
- Do we need to buy things just because they are in sale and are cheaper?
Do we need to buy them because there is a ‘return policy’? I was reading a case study on how big retail conglomerates dump returned goods in the ocean and its unbelievable how our oceans are constantly being subjected to waste created because of our greed.
- Are we respectful when visiting a tourist destination?
Do we take rules such as ‘keep silence’ ‘do not litter’ ‘do not waste water’ seriously enough? Do we allow the place to consume us or our overbearing presence consumes the place?
The points raised above have really tickled my conscience. I used to be conscious of the water, garbage, and natural environment around me. However, things like mindful gifting and the fashion industry have inspired me to do a little more for conservation.
What steps have I taken to set an example?
I now prefer to give cash as gifts, and if I must give an object, it is a food item that is not wrapped in a gift wrapper.
I only buy clothes when I absolutely need them. I don’t believe in overstuffing my closet with the latest trends.