Each month the Ministry Leadership Team focuses on one of "ends" from the Congregational Blueprint. We then share ourthoughts on the end and suggest spiritual practices to share with the other ministry teams. Here are my thoughts on sustainability (End IV), as seen through the spiritual practice of mindful consumption. I hope they are helpful in making you think about our goals as a church and as individuals.
Mindful consumption was on my mind, as always, during the holidays. We eat and drink too much at parties and spend money we don't have on things we don't need. Where can I find the PERFECT present for my sister? My friends are too busy and tired to get together. And I wonder why I wake up exhausted every day. The holidays give you a "get out of jail free" card which only makes it harder to practice mindful eating and drinking and spending, leading to unrealistic New Year's resolutions, which most people don't keep.
As I work on eating more healthfully, I'm realize how hard it is to eat mindfully, to be in the moment long enough to eat a sandwich without multi-tasking. Lunch break from work is jammed with errands and phone calls. My nutritionist tells me that it is common for people to lose a significant amount of weight only to find a substitute vice to deal with their feelings. I have found myself indulging in retail therapy as the weight comes off. You have to learn to sit with the feelings, she says. I don't think she means sitting on the coach in a stupor watching "Real Housewives of Orange County" or playing Solitaire on my laptop for two hours. It's so easy to get lost and it leaves one with a spiritual hangover.
Two houses across the street caught fire last month and I'm finally getting rentors insurance. It involves making a list of all my possessions and how much it would cost to replace them. I am stunned by the amount of stuff I have in my small apartment. Could I give it all away? How liberating that would be.
In the "Art of Happiness," the Dalai Lama says that, when making decisions, you should ask yourself, will this bring me PLEASURE or HAPPINESS? Not that pleasure is a horrible thing, but it's fleeting and too much leads us away from the path to happiness. When we're being mindful we instinctively make good decisions for ourselves. It's easy to see the "big picture" (happiness). I know that yoga always makes me feel better and that turning off the TV for a night quiets my mind.
Mahatma Gandhi said, "Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony." I always liked that quote b/c, for me, to achieve that is rare and feeling pure happiness is like a piece of heaven. It definitely requires mindfulness (and courage and luck and inspiration).
Judy H., MLT