Rather than New Year Resolutions…
Thich Nhat Hanh offers us Five Mindfulness Trainings as a guide to diminishing suffering – and not just for ourselves. By reflecting on the trainings, and keeping them in mind, we gradually begin to address old habits – what we do day to day when we are unaware and ‘on automatic pilot’.
So, as we begin a new year, full of good intentions, we might benefit from knowing we are all sharing a supportive practice about what and how we consume.
As our culture and growth economy are largely built on encouraging us to be ‘Consumers’, we are very much swimming against the tide by practising this training.
And it is a training; we need to remember to be kind and maintain a sense of lightness and humour!
Constantly bombarded by adverts as we are, we need to be compassionate to ourselves (and others) when we (or they) slip into less mindful ways of consuming, while still reminding ourselves that we CAN, with patience, create a gap between our ‘urge’ to consume and actually going ahead with (over) eating, (impulse) buying, and generally consuming for distraction or comfort.
Mindful consumption leads to nourishment and healing.
On Saturday January 13th , as we settle into our sitting and walking meditation, we hope to be at our most mindful by the time we serve ourselves lunch. This is a benefit of shared, formal practice.
In the coming week, we might want to consider how the Fifth Training breaks down into a series of six parts, encouraging expanding awareness, commitment, looking deeply and contemplation – perhaps a more effective way of sustaining resolutions for the new year than imposing ‘SHOULD’ and ‘MUST NOT’ on ourselves – it doesn’t usually work for very long.
If the whole training is just too much at once (and it is for life not just New Year) we can make a start somewhere and experiment.
Enjoy your practice!
The above is adapted from ‘The Mindfulness Toolkit’ by Thich Nhat Hanh. Published by Parallax Press.
The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Nourishment and Healing
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practising mindful eating, drinking, and consuming.
I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition*, and consciousness.
I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programmes, films, magazines, books, and conversations.
I will practise coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing, and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear or craving pull me out of the present moment.
I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety or other suffering by losing myself in consumption.
I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy and well-being in my body and consciousness and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society, and the Earth.
* volition = our aspiration, our deepest desire – a powerful source of energy. If this is to help save our planet, it is good nourishing food. If it is to have more money, fame, power, sensual pleasure, this is toxic food leading to taking what should go to others.
www.coiuk.org – offers all Five Mindfulness Trainings and, in the bookstore, ‘The Mindfulness Survival Kit’