Monday, October 29, 2007

.Op-Ed:
Coming Out of the Closet of Mindful Living



Here is the truth, living mindfully is really hard and half of us probably feel like imposter's half the time.

The standards are just so high and the consequences seem even higher. Those of us who are not fundamentalists (at anything) find the making and sticking to the right decisions sometimes a remarkably awkward process. Weather its eating right, or how we engage with others in our life, or even calming the noise in our own head - getting there is often exhausting and overwhelming. Yes, the rewards are huge, and the journey worthwhile, but the realities of the experience of getting there is often something no on talks about. Mindful folk are suppose to make living "mindfully" look as easy as living "mindlessly," or at least that is the "rub." The truth is not only is it a cumbersome process at times, but one often accompanied by waves of guilt. I am guessing that all those folks doing their daily drive thru at McD's are not concerned by the carbon footprint of all that meat they are about to eat, the hormones that will be running through their veins, or the fact that the concept of drive thru seems to be an advertisement for gas emissions.

But with all that awareness, also comes guilt. There seems to be no small crime. I for one, feel like I need a support group half the time - like a "Periodic Diet Coke Drinkers Anonymous" for Organic Eaters or " Occasional Plastic Grocery Bag User Anonymous" for the Eco Consumer. I feel like I need a confession booth, where I can run in and say "Today I let my kids watch the Disney Channel, and they sat through every mindless commercials selling plastic useless garbage toys that fill up our landfills." I know my guilt will not be cured by a few Hail Mary's though. And the forgiveness that I seek is from myself.

Once you start living "the path," and the "light goes on" and you realize that everything you do actually has a consequence to it - you no longer get away with living mindlessly. Consciousness might be a building block of a healthy life, but it is also your judge and jury. I remember being 21 and polluting my mind, body and spirit with god knows what and having little thought about it. Yes, I was younger and maybe more foolish, but also in that ignorance I was mostly guilt free. I was how the drive thru half lives.

I think there is also a general PR problem in living LOHAS (lifestyle of health and sustainability)-one which feeds the "mindful guilt cycle." We are suppose to look happy, and healthy and content and make living the lifestyle seem intuitive. Maybe its because we all feel we have to sell the cause. Just Google "spiritual retreat" or "Eco Fashion"or "Mindful Parenting" and I can tell you that what you find are destinations with pictures of people all smiling and blissful and "perfect." Sometimes when looking at those images I feel like a fourteen year old girl looking at the pages of Vogue, filled with unrealistic image expectation.

I want to get to a site where we have a chick standing in her kitchen, exhausted and stressed, but feeling like she has to make that Yoga class because yeah..it makes her feel better (inside and out) - but man getting out that door is hard, really hard. I want to see images of people on a Saturday morning making breakfast for their kids, and running out the door to make it to another soccer game while wondering about when they can spend 15 mts to just meditate for sanity sake - because that too needs to fit into that busy schedule. I want to see someone who eats organic and shops local, with a hangover. Let's get real - we can't have supermodel standards for consciousness without building a neurosis in the rest of us who just were not genetically predisposed to "mindful perfection."

I think we need to all come out of that big do-gooder closet and get real; living consciously isn't easy, nor is it always intuitive. We are all like dieters, occasionally cheating and knowing you have to get back "on the program." I think maybe if we seemed more fallible more people would feel like they can be part of a healthier lifestyle as well.

Well - that's all for now....off to live the life fantastic; healthfully, mindfully, and on occasion very "guiltfully." See you in the confession booth :)



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