A few months back, I came across the term 'conscious living' for the first time. At first glance, I thought it was part of a movement with extreme (and potentially pushy) ideals. Being 30% curious and 70% bored at the time, I just had to Google it. I was rather intrigued what this term meant, but also dubious that I might come across some kind of spiritual life-warrior that harnesses happiness from inanimate objects.
After a few weeks reading about conscious living and more listening to relevant podcasts, it began to rub off on me. While I won't be starting a cult anytime soon (Hashtag idea: #ConsciousCult?), I have been attempting to 'practise' the art of living consciously since late 2018, so the change has only been quite recent. That being said, even by doing so little, I can already see the benefits and am sure it'll make an even bigger impact in the long run.
Hopefully through this post, you will understand that this does not mean you need a complete 360 degree change in your lifestyle, but instead an inspiration for minor alterations to your current mindset to feel more fulfilled.
What does it mean to be more conscious?
Being more conscious simply means being more aware of the choices we make. Rather than conscious choices, we often do the complete opposite, these are known as automatic choices. Like the term suggests, it's simply easier and a lot less hassle!
Your way of thinking now: Automatic choices
Have you ever gone to the supermarket without planning your meal for the week? Have you ever started your day without planning anything and ended up being incredibly unproductive? If your answer is yes (and don't lie, we all know it's a yes). But good. Me too. These are automatic decisions we make on a daily basis, and as a result we have indirectly wasted time, money and energy we could have used on making ourselves feel more productive and fulfilled.
How you should be thinking (Part I): Conscious Decisions
However, that doesn't mean you are completely alien to the idea of living consciously. While this doesn't necessarily line up with the ethos of conscious living, the act of being more conscious can be experienced when you are paying for something more expensive than what you normally spend. For example, you would never show up at the airport and 'see how it goes', but instead you would arrive with a carefully planned agenda, a packed suitcase and a pre-purchased plane ticket. Since you want to spend your time and money effectively, you were thinking *consciously*. Putting the same amount of thought to everything in your daily life is A.) hard work; B.) but... guarantees that you are choosing the best practice for you and you only, allowing you to appreciate the choice that is being made. I'll explain later where you can start applying conscious decisions.
How you should be thinking (Part II): Conscious Awareness
I'd say decisions are the first things you can be conscious with. It is a more self-centred approach, prioritising yourself when making decisions. I am yet to master this second bit, but conscious awareness is educating yourself on the reasoning and the effects of your decisions you make. Take purchasing a turtle neck top for example, on the more obvious end you can be more conscious of the environmental impact you are making when you buy this new piece of clothing. Have you got anything similar already? Is it from an ethical brand? Is it an item of fast fashion, or will you be able to wear this for a long period of time without replacing it?; on the more sublime end, you can be more aware of the history of turtlenecks. (I mean, did you know?: Turtlenecks have been symbols of strength, rebellion, style, and modesty throughout history. - Well, now you do.) There are so many ways to be more aware, but it is a skill that does take a while for it to become a habit.
Why should you adopt a conscious lifestyle?
We live in an era when everything is about speed and when multi-tasking is expected. While technological advancements has brought a lot of convenience, we have also developed the habit of living automatically (as previously explained).
Unfortunately, there is a direct correlation between automatic decisions and the dissatisfaction of its outcome, because the lack of time we spend evaluating the best option for us and others. As young professionals, we were taught to follow and obey societal expectations, yet this kind of automatic thinking is also the main contribution of us feeling uninspired and unfulfilled early on in our careers.
In the previous section, I mentioned that if you take the time to consider the choices you are making, you are more likely to choose the one that fits you best and would make you feel most satisfied.
Choices are statements about your priorities.
The choices you make are indicative of what you value. When you make a conscious decision, you are asserting active control over what happens to you. This means you will be opening doors to opportunities that enlighten you and closing doors to any options that don't suit your needs.
Who would suit a conscious lifestyle?
Living consciously isn’t just for those who want to live a happier, more holistic life, but also for those who want to be more successful.
Coming from a person who once thought meditation was nothing more than just a brainwashing technique and that the cross-legged position looked extremely ridiculous, I can say that prioritising your well being conscious living does bring nothing but benefits. Without sounding too cheesy, living a conscious lifestyle can help you pave your way to gradual happiness and success.
In case you weren’t aware of the other possibilities that can come from conscious living, you can become:
More meaningful connections with like-minded people
Influencing love ones in having all things positive too!
How can you be more conscious?
There isn't a one size fits all method for you to live consciously, however, when I first started, I found it helpful to have some pointers on where and how to start. Be mindful that conscious living is a continuous process and only make an impact on your life when it becomes a habit. For any beginners out there, you can try splitting your life into different aspects. Here are the 5 major areas I have been more conscious about:
Eating and Drinking
Self-help and Healing
Relationships with People
Within these aspects, I always follow these 2 core values that help me become more conscious:
This is to analyse and become fully aware of the effect of the things consumed by your senses and how it affects you or your surroundings (like the environment or other people). Notice what makes you feel good and what makes you feel bad.
Next, is to consume based on your analysis of your awareness. You will make the active choice to add and promote what creates positive feedback for you, and consequently eliminating, reducing and avoiding those things which don't serve you and the world around you.
Making your first conscious choice(s)
The fact that you are reading this post means that you have made it this far, means you are interested in taking a conscious approach to your everyday life. I feel like leaving some open ended guidance might help:
Eating and Drinking
Many people assume that conscious eating is all about becoming vegan, when in fact there is a lot more to it. For starters, the act of eating itself, being conscious while eating means to be present. Take notice of your eating habits and appreciate the food that is in front of you. Appreciate your body's response to the meal you are having.
Progressing from the act of eating, to the food you have. Understand that 'healthy' is different for everyone, take time to identify what your body needs. You can analyse your well being like your energy levels, your skin or even immediately after a meal and how your body responds.
From that you can make adjustments, adding crucial nutrients or eliminating what is causing you to feel less than good.
Self-help and Healing
In a factory, we schedule regular checkups for the machines to ensure the quality of production can be consistent. While it is a bit odd that I am comparing our bodies to a machine, but more often than not we forget that we are constantly running our bodies to produce work every. single. day.
This is why you need to develop a habit in recognising when your body is overwhelmed. Whether it is breakouts, inability to focus or a change in quality of sleep, there are tell tale signs that are unique to different people. You should recognise what is considered as your 'normal', and recognise the small tell tale signs of your body, albeit a physical or emotional irregularity.
You should allocate time and place to cultivate small moments of mindfulness, I personally practice Yoga Nidra for a better night's sleep. Again, this can vary from person to person, but it should be a process that you cherish on your own and without the interaction of another person. Take time to listen to your thoughts through meditation and do mental scans of your body.
Side note: I can honestly say I used to scoff at the idea of meditation. I didn't understand how closing your eyes and crossing your legs could bring you peace. It wasn't until I read that in the modern day world we are very rarely truly alone, and that we don't have the opportunity to comb through our thoughts, making sense of or appreciating the highs and lows of our emotions, that it finally made sense why people meditate.
Shopping is one that I find the hardest to navigate. On the one hand, it is about how shopping impacts you. And on the other hand, it is about how your actions might impact others (particularly the environment).
Because shopping involves a bigger community than just yourself, I am still trying to find the best way in determining how to make conscious decisions when shopping.
One of the ways I would advise is to firstly, measure the worth of the purchase based on its necessity; secondly taking the effort to understand where the product might have come from and how your item might affect the environment.
Ideally, it would be something that is responsibly sourced and is biodegradable.
Whether it is for entertainment or for self enrichment purposes, we come across all sorts of content on a daily basis. Generally it would be from materials we read or watch. While not the same amount of thought needs to be put into everything we visually consume, mindlessness allows these materials to alter our views or even emotions subconsciously.
It is important to identify what we enjoy learning about and make the active choice in building credible knowledge behind the topic. Whether it is a skill or theory, being consistent will allow you to develop expertise in the field and higher satisfaction when being able to share views with like minded people.
On the other hand, deliberately thinking and analysing the things you have read and watch might sound extremely exhausting, but it allows you to identify whether the knowledge consumed may affect you. This is particularly important when certain materials trigger a negative emotion from you.
Relationships with People
Last but not least, you can also start making conscious decisions when making relationships with people. As an extrovert, my mood is highly dependable on those surrounding me. I am extremely fortunate to have lovely people as my support system, which made this part all the more easier to consider.
Your relationships should consist of making deep connections with friends and family, talking about things that allow you to understand the other person on an emotional level; you should make time for love, whether it is a friend or a partner or family, show them appreciation but also be present to receive someones love for you; lastly, and frankly the hardest to do, removing toxic energy from your life.
For those who have stumbled this far down the rabbit hole, I feel like I've done something right. Wink, wink.
Jokes aside, I don't think there is a detailed guideline on how to live a conscious lifestyle and consequently what classifies as the right way to do it. BUT I do hope that this post has inspired you to be more active in making decisions based on your needs and the impact it might have on others.
While I am no expert in the field (yet), I want this to be one of the many posts I'll be covering within conscious lifestyle.