Dharma Topic: Consuming What Is Truly Good for Us

Dharma Topic: Consuming What Is Truly Good for Us

Discussion date: Thu, Aug 11, 2005 at our weekly Thursday evening practice

Dear Still Water Friends,

This Thursday evening, August 11, after our meditationperiod, we will recite the five mindfulness trainings and explore inour discussion the fifth mindfulness training on consumption:

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 practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming.

I am committed to ingesting only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society.

The fifth mindfulness training begins with being mindful ofour food and drug consumption, and extends to the ways we consume through ourmind, through our books, films, music, conversations, and sense impressions.

As many of us have learned through our adult struggles toeat healthily, mindful consumption is usually not easy. Often seeminglyirresistible urges to eat certain foods arise from unmet psychological needs -to assuage sadness, loneliness, or anxiety, for example. We are often encouragedby others to eat things that taste good now, but which we know are not good forus – for our mental states in an hour or two, or for our bodies years down theroad. For many of us, even the notion of monitoring what we consume energizes anunresolved childhood struggle between the authority that denies pleasure and theinner child that wants what it wants, regardless of the consequences.

When we turn to monitoring our mental consumption – themovies we watch, the web-sites we wander to, the conversations we have, many ofthe same issues arise.

Any meaningful change in our physical or mental dietrequires mindfulness. I’ve always liked Sylvia Boorstein’s definition ofmindfulness which includes increased awareness and increased capacity to choose.

"Mindfulness is not peculiar. Mindfulness is a mind habit of paying attention in every moment of your life, to be able to say to yourself, ‘What is true right now? What’s happening right now, how do I feel about it, what’s the wisest, kindest response that I could make in this moment?"

Thich Nhat Hanh, in his discussion of this training, remindsus that in monitoring our consumption, we need not deny ourselves joy:

We don’t have to deprive ourselves of the joys of living, not at all. There are many beautiful, informative, and entertaining programs on television. There are many excellent books and magazines to read. There are many wonderful people and many healthy subjects to talk about. By vowing to consume only items that preserve our well-being, peace, and joy, and the well-being, peace, and joy of our family and society, we need not deprive ourselves of the joys of living. Practicing this third exercise brings us deep peace and joy.

You are invited to join us for our meditation period, ourrecitation, and our discussion. Our discussion will begin with these questions:

What are the mindful consumption lessons you have learned?Where is your edge — in what areas are you now working to deepen your awarenessand bring you behavior into line with your aspirations?

The best times to join us are just before the first sittingat 7 pm; at 7:25, at the beginning of walking meditation; and, at 7:35, at thebeginning of the second sitting. (To allow others to maintain concentration andcontinuity, we ask that practitioners not enter during the walking meditation.)

Peace and joy to you,

Mitchell Ratner 
Senior Teacher

Discussion Date: Thu, Aug 11, 2005


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