Have you ever:
- eaten in front of a screen, and consumed more than you planned?
- binged on a video game or social media, sitting still so long, body parts fell asleep?
- felt lonely or excluded, in spite of having many "friends" on social media?
- had a hangover?
I want to draw attention to some external explanations for these behaviors and empower you with methods to resist unhealthy habits. There are many external forces encouraging mindlessness and overconsumption, typically for profit, often without our full knowledge, and therefore without our consent. In order to live embodied lives that promote our highest well-being, experts have noticed mindfulness and vigilant consumption can be powerful tools to combat mindless habits.
A few areas where mindlessness and overconsumption are encouraged - well-beyond the point where they become detrimental to the consumer - include the food, media, and alcohol industries. There are many more, but these are a few high visibility places most people can recognize in their own lives. These industries spend billions to reduce friction between their products and our consumption, and promote the use of their products in a habitual and mindless way, purposefully using their knowledge of our human weaknesses to hook us into consuming more of their products than is healthy for us. This bombardment on our agency (our capacity to regulate our own consumption) can lead people to feel ungrounded and disconnected from their mind-bodies, their loved ones, their friends, and their communities.
I'm not here to debate the lack of ethics in these tactics. Instead, I want to equip you with tools to protect yourself from this subtle erosion. There are always the oft-recommended tools for grounding and reconnecting to interbeing, such as yoga, meditation, mindfulness practices, breathing exercises, and body scans.
Today, I wanted to share with you a few effective methods from my own experience which are validated by age old wisdom for improving our mindfulness, healthy consumption, groundedness, and reconnection to interbeing. As a 9 year old with full-blown PTSD, I was fortunate to have an astute psychotherapist named Linda who recognized that the chaos around and within me was contributing to my sense of ungroundedness and disconnection. Her most profound medicine to me came in a little bag of seeds she gave me with the wise instruction that “making roots will be important to feeling at home again one day.” Fast forward thirty plus years, and this advice still rings true for me and the clients I now have the privilege to share it with.
1. Know where your food comes from.
We are so separated from our food supply these days, we cannot savor the specialness of all that went into the meals we consume. Where was this grown? How was this grown? Who grew it? How did it get to my plate? Imagine the sense of mindful intimacy and gratitude you can bring to every bite with the answers to these questions.
2. Know your neighbors.
Social media promotes many shallow connections with people far away - and sure, this has its perks, but it often comes at the detriment to relating to the people right in front of us and all around us. Who lives and works around me? What are their stories? How can I weave greater connection between us, for their health and my own? We can sleep more soundly in our own beds, knowing we are connected to the people in the homes around our own.
3. Be involved in your local community.
The distance between us and current events can give them a plastic quality, they don't feel real or urgent to us because they often are not happening close to us. It is too easy to be disconnected from the things in our local community that need our attention and urgency. Someone nearby you needs help that you are capable of providing. What local organizations serve my community and how can I participate? We can feel a sense of purpose and agency by taking action to improve the community we live in.
4. Know your environment.
Here in the United States, it is common for people to move long distances and have a more transient lifestyle than in prior generations. This transience can lead to strong feelings of loneliness and disconnection. Growing intimacy with our immediate environment can help us to regain that "at home" feeling - a sense of our connectedness to our place. What are the plants you walk by every day? Who painted that mural? What is the local history where you live?
5. Make and appreciate local art.
Adding your beauty to a place is a gift to others and expressing yourself is a gift to yourself. Admiring the art of others and sharing the art we created is another intimacy building act. Sharing our imagination and intuition with each other is an act of courageous vulnerability.
I hope these suggestions help you to resist the lure of mindless consumption and encourage a sense within you of groundedness and connectedness with ourselves and the people around us. Best wishes from me to you to bloom where you are planted and the courage to amend your soil.