In this day and age, information overload can be so confusing. What to eat, what not to eat, how to exercise, where to shop, how much sleep is enough, what supplements to take, what is a carcinogenic, which products are dangerous, which products are unethical blah blah blah…it’s a goddamn minefield out there and it seems that every piece of advice you gain, there is a contradictory word right at its heels. Where do you fit in to all of this? Are you conscious of your consumption-the quality of your consumption-your over consumption even? For those of us who are trying to remain conscious while living in a society which thrives off capitalism and consumer culture, where do you draw the line and how do you stay informed?
It’s really tough trying to remain conscious-mainly because the world we live in is designed not to be by default. Really asking the questions like ‘where is my food coming from’ and ‘should I be putting this on my face?’ and trying to get to the bottom of them takes you around the houses at times, when the easy answer would be to just take the easy option. I try to remain conscious as much as I can with how I consume and I try to consume productively. I tend not to buy things I don’t need and find more value in the things I do need for that reason. I look for complete transparency when shopping. If there is an ingredient I don’t recognise or cannot pronounce, I’m not eating it and it’s not going on my skin-simple as that and that’s just for personal health reasons. Ethics is a whole other kettle of fish. Unfortunately so many people are blindly consuming products at the expense of people’s quality of life in 3rd world countries. It’s a very real problem that farmers in foreign countries aren’t being paid fairly for their wares, in first world countries, the majority of people remain uninformed and there’s an air of cognitive dissonance around it, that ‘out of sight out of mind mentality’.
Take coffee as a very basic example. So much of what we consume isn’t fair trade-which means the farmers who grow and harvest coffee beans aren’t being paid properly for the work they're doing-no different to sweatshops in India. Even if coffee is advertised in a coffee shop as being roasted locally, you must ask the question-‘where is it actually coming from?’ Sure beans can be roasted anywhere, that doesn’t mean they were grown and harvested at the same site. So many of the coffee shops on street corners are serving non-fair trade coffee to people without consumers even realising. My partner said to me recently ‘If people walked into a coffee shop and asked whether the product was fair trade, the world would be a different place.’ Even something as small as that could make a difference. At the end of the day, you are consuming the energy of what you put into your body-whether it physiologically or energetically.
I think when people start to really go deep into the practice of yoga all of these types of questions tend to arise after a time. Especially if you are making an effort to encompass the 8 Limbs of Yoga into your life. The questions which begin within, such as ‘how am I being kind to myself, how can I treat myself better’ often extends to thinking and feeling the same way toward others. You have internally harmonised your own energies and now you are aiming to harmonise with the universe.
I also believe as a rule of thumb to generally ask the questions more. If you don’t know where something has come from, or what an ingredient is, ask or research it. It does make things slightly more tedious at times but the thing is, if we can all become more informed instead of blindly buying things without asking the questions, we can make some kind of difference to other people’s suffering in the world. I feel like my generation is waking up to this fact and making some kind of steps to become more conscious and just wanting to become more informed is a really positive move to making small changes-which in turn, create bigger changes. Try to simplify things, if you feel like you’re overburdened with information, simplify. Go back to basics and begin to educate yourself. It’s a really brave way to live in this world which wants us living constantly in fear through conflicting information. So ask the questions. The first question being to yourself: ‘how consciously am I living?’ As Gandhi said; Be The Change You Wish To See In The World.