Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Yoga Mama's Guide to Compassionate Consumerism, Buy Nothing Day, Gratitude Games, Roots of Tradition, and more.


Happy Thanksgiving! Today's note has three articles for your reading pleasure, inspiration, and edification. One is my brand new Yoga Mama's Guide to Compassionate Consumerism, two is The Roots of Tradition; Reasons for the Season, and three is the offering of my gratitude games, so you and your loved ones can play them during your thanksgiving revels, should you choose to. (See the Ecstatic Presence Empowerment.)

But before all that, I'm going to offer you an alternative to Black Friday - the biggest shopping day of the year. It's Buy Nothing Day! Check it out here.

Now, generally I say YES!, let's spend money and keep the economy going. But this one day out of the year, what if we all committed to reducing our footprint by staying home, or brought consciousness to spending habits by joining in on an action sponsored by Adbusters?

Ultimately, whether you decide to participate in Black Friday or Buy Nothing Day, I hope you participate with consciousness - consciousness toward the planet, for your wallet, and of the fact that you are always voting - with your dollars, your patronage, your attention.

Read on, and have a gratitude filled Thanksgiving.

Peace, and thank you for being in my life.

Yoga Mama's Guide to Compassionate Consumerism
by LaSara Firefox, MPNLP,

Here we are at that time of year where my anti-consumerist, smaller footprint, "live simply" self, and my "kids deserve the joy that materialism so easily delivers", acquisitive, affluenza-suffering self must war with one another.

And I, like every other conscious consumer, enter the battlefield of who to buy for, what to buy, and why? And, in some ways most importantly, HOW?

For your consideration, some guidelines I came up with for conscious and compassionate consumerism:

1. Remember that every dollar is a vote. When you spend, you are voting for the survival of one "contender" over another. You're contributing to the policies, and politics, of the corporation you buy from. Choose accordingly.

2. Locally owned companies need your support to stay afloat. So, keep chain store gift buying to a bare-minimum. If you're going to spend your "hard-earned" cash, spend it where it helps the most.

3. Gift with products and services you believe in. Organic cotton socks may be out of your price range ($50 for five pairs? Yikes!), but, see # 4.

4. Buy products and services produced and offered by people you know. You probably know a lot of really great folks, doing really great things. Artists and artisans, musicians, writers, massage therapists and body workers, hairstylists and aestheticians, fix-it guys and gals, coaches, carpenters, tarot readers, florists.

When you buy from friends, you gift twice. You support your friend in her or his commitment to "right livelihood", and you give a quality, personal gift to the recipient.

5. Attempt to fully and presently give the gift of yourself throughout the season. Relax into the experience of it, stay present in the joy of times shared with loved ones. Light candles to welcome the return of the Sun.

6. Become conscious of your judgments, and let them go.
This is a very personal suggestion that you may relate to; one of my biggest challenges to staying present in the season is my judgmentalism about consumerism, and the wastefulness that this season brings; light displays, wrapping paper, extra driving, extra buying, extra spending.

The voice of my judgement rings out in response to my own holiday habits - which at times veer into excess, over-extension, stress. It can be overwhelming to stay conscious in the midst of it. So, I try to relax my judgement, towards myself and others. Judgement is not compassion.

7. Meditate on the longing, the need, the hunger that is the shadow-side of this darkest time of year, and allow it to pass. Again, and again, and again. Feel it, and let it go. Recognize it in your own desires to care for, and to be cared for, and find acceptance and love for the hungry parts of you. Notice it in others, and generate compassionate understanding.

Those are my steps to compassionate consumerism. What are yours?

Just as with any face of compassion, compassionate consumerism is a practice. It's a practice I undertake for my own benefit, and the benefit of all sentient beings.

The Roots of Tradition; Reasons for the Season

by LaSara Firefox, MPNLP,

In giving myself to the spirit of the season, releasing guilt and judgement, and becoming more responsible in the habits of indulgence and over-indulgence, I find it helps me to remember that the lights, the gifting and the gatherings are all rooted in time-worn traditions.

These ancient traditions were born of a deep and abiding need that descends in the darkest of hours and longest of nights; the need to remind ourselves of the promise of a return of the light. They predate marketing, consumerism, Santa Claus. They even existed before the birth of the sweet baby Jesus.

The more I remember that the gifting of this season is about getting through hard times - long, dark nights in cold, cold months, and about support, community and the spirit of generosity, the easier it is to see through the red haze of seasonal buying fury, and have the season make more sense.

The lights adorning houses are a glance backward at ceremonies of light in the darkness that were celebrated by indigenous cultures all over the world. When I become aware of this, and feel the lineage unbroken - the spirit circles back to ceremonies that make sense - I find a bit more wonder in the twinkling lights.

Carried in these ancient festivals of light is the seed of hope, the same seed carried in our hearts as we face our own darkest days and nights - the seed that allows us to be assured that light will, that light does, return.

Of this desire to find light in the darkness, gifting originated as a faith-offering - a triumphant song in the night promising that the spring would return. That crops would grow again, ewes would come into milk, and new livestock would be born.

We gift to keep the wolf from each other’s doors. We gift to remind ourselves that there are others who will take care of us if we fall upon hard times. We gift to remind ourselves, and each other, that God exists - in the form of a jolly, rotund giver, the Solar entity, baby Jesus – “light of the world”, Saturnus, or whomever else you may pray to at this time of year. That the sun will return.

We gift to remind ourselves that even in the darkest times, there is light still to be found.

Ecstatic Presence Empowerment: Gratitude Games!
by LaSara Firefox,

This Empowerment was written for the Thanksgiving holiday last year. But, every day is a good day to practice gratitude. Gratitude helps heal the heart (yes, it's scientifically proven to help with healing rates after heart surgery or heart disease), it reduces stress, and it helps us to learn to notice the things in life that support ease and grace.

Here are some fun and easy ways to introduce gratitude practice to your family and friends. If you feel inspire to integrate gratitude practice into your life, consider hosting a Gratitude Gathering. You can use these games as a starting point.

1. Gratitude Practice:
The old standby. Everyone in your cluster takes a turn saying something they’re grateful for. One offering isn't enough? Go around again!

2. "Gratigories": Take turns choosing categories, and then everyone at your table offers one thing they are grateful for in the chosen "gratigory."

At our family Thanksgiving last year we played this, and it was great! Some fun - and surprisingly touching - gratigories we came up with; public utilities, things that happened to or for us when we were teens, family traditions that have been handed down, the influence of famous people.

Have fun with the gratigories! The more diverse, the better.

3. A Grateful A to Z: An alphabet of gratitude! Start with A, and make
your way to Z. Make sure everyone takes a turn. This is obviously a great gratitude game for the wee ones in your crew.

4. Compassionate Gratitude: The most challenging of my gratitude games perhaps, but what better way to strengthen your practice of compassion, than with gratitude?

The point of Compassionate Gratitude is to find things to be grateful about in areas that challenge your lovingness. Politics? Family? America? Media? Culture? Choose your topic, and find the gift in the challenge!

Consider yourself empowered!

About the author:
LaSara FireFox, MPNLP, is mom to two amazing daughters, a life coach, and an educator. She helps her clients and students to find balance in their lives, and alignment with their personal and family-held values.

Visit LaSara’s website at for more information. At the site, you can listen to her “Yoga Mama Satsangha” podcast series, download free parenting-related items, and more.

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