Learning to Live Deeply

by Karen Wright -

I'd like to talk to you about an evolutionary shift that can uplift you and deepen your experience of life.

In the US and in many other countries, economies have slowed, jobs have been cut and people have tightened their belts so much it hurts. Less money and opportunity have caused many of us to do without things and experiences we were used to just a few years ago.

Cutting back has become necessary but it might also shepherd in a very new way of living life.

I, for one, have become much more aware of how I use my money and my resources. I was never what I would call wasteful but I've become even more conscious of conserving. That very last little squeeze of toothpaste is no longer left in the tossed-out tube. I'm taking faster showers. I drive less and do more on each trip so I can drive less.

At first these 'sacrifices' were a bother. And I did them with a bit of grumbling about how unfair it all was. But, a funny thing happened. I began to enjoy seeing how far I could stretch a tank of gas and how long I could preserve a can of hairspray. It became less about not wanting to spend money and more about testing to see how far my resources could actually go.

I tried all kinds of things, like adding water to my incredibly thick hair conditioner to dilute it a bit and make it easier to apply. And it lasts 30% longer. When my liquid face foundation is squeezed to the last drop (I thought), I found another 2 weeks of use in the bottom of the tube. I cut it open, clamped it shut between uses and got a lot more for my money.

But, the real joy in all this isn't about doing things differently, it's about thinking differently. In the use-it-toss-it consumerist world we lived in before, we didn't think twice about using 5 water bottles a day and tossing the empties in the garbage. Or ordering more food than we needed at the restaurant and sending back full plates at the end of the meal.

That world, I hope, is a thing of the past. We might have gotten to this point through difficulty and pain but now that we're here, it's time we ask, "What have we learned about how to live?"

We need far less than we use or waste. Our natural resources are a blessing, not a right. We are here to care for the earth, not abuse it and leave it less than when we're done.

Now that we're here, let's find the silver lining in the cloud.

How do we wish to live, really? Unconsciously and wastefully or full of awareness, appreciation, and stewardship? Do children really need eighty toys to stimulate their imagination? Or do fewer, more thought provoking ones, mean more.

Is less really more?

It's funny, we have two 3 month old kittens in our house now. And the first thing we did was buy them all the catnip stuffed mice, feathery strings, towering scratching poles, etc. Dozens of toys. And you know what? They play with pieces of string and paper towel tubes, and plastic bags. We could have saved a bundle of cash and given them everyday objects instead...they are just as happy.

Maybe it's time we all take a look at how we are living. How we are using our precious resources and hard-earned cash. What gets our attention? Are we lessening our personal 'footprint' on the planet? I'm reminded of a sign I often see at the start of hiking trails:

"Take only pictures, leave only footprints."

It's about waking up and changing unconscious habits. Being purposeful in our actions. Considering what really makes us happy, deeply. Owning our lives and being accountable for our choices. It's about being who we really are: spiritually conscious beings.