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Living Simply…Simply Living? April 28, 2012

Posted by Living Abundance in Uncategorized.
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The other night I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a local discussion group/ meet-up called a conversation cafe organized by the university and held at a downtown coffee shop/ art gallery. The theme of the talk was “Can we live more simply?”, and as soon as I saw the title I knew this was something I would find worthwhile. I would certainly say it was one of the best events I’ve ever attended!

The main premise of the talk was for people to get together and talk about living more simply, whatever that means to them, how we might be able to do that, as well as why we should be doing it. For some people, living more simply meant giving up activities or objects (vehicles, technology, TV shows, always having the newest things), for others it meant doing other activities they never did before (getting to know their neighbours, making things yourself, visiting local tourist attractions).

I noticed during the talk that some of what was said by other people actually touched on very Buddhist concepts, or concepts that coincided with meditation. For instance:

– one woman described how much she enjoyed travelling in her youth, where she didn’t carry a cell phone or laptop with her. She described how enjoyable it was just to be by herself, with herself,  and not have any major distractions taking her attention away. To me this is similar to meditation and Buddhism because there is an emphasis on solitude and taking the time to pay attention to yourself without distractions.

– someone talked about how they saw that other people seem to be consuming or acquiring objects in order to fill a hole inside of themselves using external objects, instead of trying to find satisfaction internally. They also described how consuming can be a way to avoid having to face questions that can actually be quite scary, such as what is the purpose of my life, or why am I here? I think that meditation is a technique used to look deeply into the reasons why we are consuming and what satisfaction we get out of it, in order to determine whether those reasons are skillful or unskillful.  And certainly, spiritual practice is a way to address the bigger questions of one’s purpose in life, and meditation helps to do that. I think that a daily meditation practice gets me in touch with those deeper questions a little bit each day, maybe not even directly but indirectly (which might perhaps be better in some ways?).

– the fact that everyone was talking about the objects or activities that they were giving up in order to live more simply addressed the Buddhist principle that dissatisfaction/ suffering is caused by attachment, so letting go of objects and activities is a way to let go of our attachments and relieve our dissatisfaction.

I think another aspect that I really enjoyed about this talk was I got a sense of community, or of a group of people who were similar to me and shared similar values and lifestyles, that were getting together for the same purpose and goal. I really got a lot out of that, and this sense of community and similarity is really important to me. I find that I rarely get to meet many people in my day to day life who share my values of living simply and giving up consumerism and materialism, so it really is a treat for me to meet these types of people.

Most people I meet in meditation groups are much older than me, often middle-aged or retired. It seems that retirement makes having a regular meditation practice a lot easier. Rarely do I get to meet people my age or even younger than 40, so when I do meet someone my age, I really treasure it. The group that had gathered for this event was a mix of younger and older people, with a few people my age and younger (20’s or early 20’s), so it was really great to see that.

Also, this event couldn’t have come at a better time for me, because living simply and having an “alternative” lifestyle is something that has been on my mind since the retreat. I found that on the retreat one of the topics that really came up as the answer to the question, “What gets in the way of my being truly happy?” was feeling pressure to live a life that I didn’t want to live in terms of my lifestyle, my job, and where I live. Lately, I’ve been trying to embrace the vision or dream I have of my ideal lifestyle and really try to make it manifest in reality. It seems that the most important thing I can do is relentlessly search for what makes me truly happy.

So for me, being truly happy is one that allows me to have a lifestyle that doesn’t necessarily fit with what I see around me as the “norm.” I don’t want to live a commercialized, consumerist, technological lifestyle. I am trying to embrace that as who I am, and live it with confidence that I am able to find what makes me satisfied.



1. riverlover - April 28, 2012

Yes! Go, go, go! You will find people who share your values and then the riches will be living together and enjoying life, and trying to avoid the trap of being caught in the consumer lifestyle.

I look around and it is hard to see anything but unhappy people, living for some magical time in which they’ll have what they want and be able to enjoy it. The time is now and what we want is the air to breathe.

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