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The Dharma Talk I Couldn’t Give: Conscious Consumerism

Ever spent a week working on something, only to discover you’re gonna have to tear it all down and start over? That was me this week with my dharma talk. The topic? Conscious consumerism. I couldn’t fucking do it. To do so would be an act of hypocrisy too far for me. As I delved into it, I confronted a harsh truth: conscious consumerism, as we often discuss it, is a farce. It’s a sobering realization that, unless we take drastic, life-altering steps, we remain entwined in the very problems we aim to solve.

As an Ashtanga Yoga teacher at The Yoga Club in Washington, DC, I spend most of my week preparing for the first fifteen minutes of every Friday morning– that’s where I lay the groundwork for cultivating practice insights– often through personal testimony, sacred texts, science books, or experiential practices). This week, as I pondered the topic of conscious consumerism, my thoughts kept returning to two contrasting examples: the corporate mindset, exemplified by the Washington Post’s strike (corporate greed on behalf of Jeff Bezos, who has billions and billions) and the radical life shift of my friend and mentor, Kristen Krash (who moved to Ecuador, went completely off grid (solar ftw) to make an impact by regenerating a sustainable ecosystem).

Kristen’s decision to escape the consumption machine starkly contrasts with our everyday compromises. While we might change our buying habits or support local businesses, these actions are mere drops in the ocean of consumerism. They are steps, but not leaps towards the liberation we seek. The hard truth is that true liberation from consumerism’s binds often comes at a cost too high for many, laden with responsibilities and dependencies.

This dilemma reminds me of Carl Jung’s words, “Neurosis is the avoidance of legitimate suffering.” To speak of conscious consumerism is to skirt around the unavoidable pain that comes with participating in cycles of violence perpetuated by consumer culture. Yet, for many of us, abandoning our responsibilities to make the necessary changes isn’t feasible. We’re stuck in a paradox where the suffering, in essence, becomes unavoidable.

My realization, that I am just a cog in the Amazon global destruction machine ( amidst my new coming from Bezos owned WP, Amazon Prime memberships, Prime Cards where I save 5% on all things Bezos, Whole Foods Shopping (Amazon owned!), and sending emails through Amazon Web Service), is that we are lying to ourselves if we think small changes are enough. They are important, but not sufficient. We must confront this reality with both eyes open, accepting the pain and discomfort it brings.

However, this acknowledgment doesn’t mean succumbing to despair. It calls for a balance, a compassionate understanding of our limitations, and a commitment to make better choices within our constraints. Support a local creator instead of ordering junk. May I suggest Melba Davis? Her jewelry is amazing. Thinking of taking a yoga workshop or training? Instead of chasing a celebrity, how about supporting local teacher (Dr. Madeline Miskie is leading a Myofascial Release Workshop) , like those in DC… or even going on sustainable retreats like those in Playa Del Carmen, is a start. It’s about making the best choices we can, given our circumstances, and enduring the discomfort that comes with them.

Conscious consumerism, as a complete solution, is a myth. But this doesn’t absolve us from the responsibility to make conscious choices where we can. It’s about navigating this complex terrain with awareness, compassion, and the courage to face the unavoidable suffering that comes with being part of a system we cannot fully escape.

From the Article:

  1. Buy Heirloom Cacao… and Play a Very Real Part in Regenerating a Cloud Forest. (omg the patreon is *so* good).
  2. Join Ashtanga Tech and receive Educational Support from ME! ($20/month)
  3. Buy Hip Jewelry from Local Independent Creator, Melba Davis.
  4. Go on Retreat with me, and Support a Local Economy Directly
  5. Take a Workshop with a Local Expert: Dr. Madeline Miskie, former presedent of the National Association of Teachers of Song, will be leading a myofascial release workshop right here in the city.

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