Drinking from a wooden cup – consciousness in everything
Yesterday I was driving home from the office and needed to get lunch. A veggie burger and fries resonated inside my head, I could sense the flavors. Perhaps a double whammy, a mass of fries from Five Guys, plus a veggie burger from Smash Burger, the perfect glutinous combo. As I drove towards the shops I thought about the impact that the food would have on my recovering digestive system, the weight gain it might create, the discomfort digesting it may engender. I balanced those potential consequences against the possible pleasure the dopamine created by consuming the fat and salt. I decided to practice the Yoga Principle of Ahimsa, non-violence. This principle transcends the obvious abstinence of outwards violence to others and is applied also inwards towards the self. Thus choosing a kale and quinoa salad (minus the cheese) minimized or removed the inwards harm that a burger and fries would have created. As an aside, the salad created pleasure too, not everything needs to be “given up” to prevent harm.
This winter I built two kayaks. They are for Jacquelyn. Building rather than buying is and was a conscious choice. The materials were local. The use of non-renewables was minimized. These were low-cost low impact products. Their creation provided exercise and pleasure. Their beauty continues to provide pleasure and when the lakes unfreeze exercise. The alternative of buying a modern fiberglass kayak would likely have created more harm.
The more I learn about how the things that I do affect those around me, the more conscious I am becoming of the choices I make every day.
The Buddhist concept of “Life is Suffering” ties in very well with consciousness. Without consciousness in our lives, how do we expect to avoid the unwitting creation of suffering in ourselves or others?
Suffering is unavoidable, to expect to achieve a stress-free existence is unrealistic. When we suffer, if we can look at the suffering, and accept that it is suffering, and call it by its name, suffering, we can then take the next step and realize that the suffering is a part of us, we are the suffering. Accepting that we are the suffering allows us to decide what action we take, what decisions we make, what power we choose to give ourselves either to experience the suffering or to minimize it.
I am recovering from surgery at the moment. The surgeon warned me ahead of time that it was one of the most painful surgeries to recover from. The surgical wounds are to be left open and allowed to heal from the inside out. The wounds left exposed muscles, which have become vulnerable to spams of tension, ripping at the wounds. I tried to meditate through the pain. For the first three days, I was able to exist, barely, with the pain. On the fourth day, I took a narcotic. I was very resistant to taking them for fear of becoming an addition statistic. In all, I took 5 pills over three days. I realized that I was looking at pain and narcotics the wrong way. The pain was creating the muscular tension and resistance in my body that was preventing healing. I was doing harm to myself by not managing the intense pain. By taking the painkiller I was practicing Ahimsa. I still have pain, but the pain is no longer at a level that I am unable to prevent it harming me. The pain is suffering, the pain is me, I am the pain.
In my office, I have a wooden mug. I drink my hot reishi mushroom elixir in the mug every weekday morning. The mug is a Kuksa, hand carved, made from a single piece of Birch wood in a small village in Finland. They were traditionally carried by the indigenous people of Lapland, the Sámi. The drink contains the reishi mushroom which can help the body’s sleep cycles as well as support occasional stress. The drink and mug I chose carefully, consciously.
What choice will you make today to minimize the harm to yourself and others?
If you are interested in trying the mushroom tea or holding your own kuska mug check them out here: Four Sigmatic