On this journey of life, many of us at some point make the decision to live more consciously. The journey is different for everyone and it is a non-linear path with many possible branches. The term ‘consciously living’ will certainly mean something different for each person.
It is important to recognise that everyone’s journey is their own. They are on their journey as a result of all the things they have ever seen, heard, read or experienced. It can be easy to judge someone else’s decisions. Perhaps they are making a decision that you don’t believe fits into a life of living consciously. Remember that it is easiest to change your own actions rather than those of others. Through subtle positive influence, you might help to change the way they think about something. But just remember not to judge them based on their decisions. They are making the best choices that they can, based on their experiences and understanding.
Here I share a snippet of some of the decisions that I have made along my journey so far, and what they mean to me. By sharing my story I hope that it will inspire you to think about the next step in your own conscious living journey.
Saying no to meat
The first really significant conscious living decision that I can recall was my decision not to eat meat. I was 21 and attended a business ethics seminar in my 4th year of University. For the first time, I really considered the reality of the meat industry.
From that day onwards I decided I wouldn’t eat meat anymore. It simply didn’t sit right with me and I thought ‘if I can’t kill it, I don’t think I should be eating it’. At the time I was an avid meat eater and I ate it every day. I had no idea about how to eat a vegetarian diet. But the reasons behind my decision were strong, and 15 years on I haven’t touched it again.
My initial decision was fuelled by an outrage at the way we treat animals. Over time I also came to understand the devastating effects that the meat and dairy industry has on the environment so this further consolidated my choice. For similar reasons I would love to say I am a vegan; however, I am not quite there. There are many factors that influence my decisions about what to eat, and I will continue to think consciously about those.
Embracing natural health
By the time I was 23 I had realised that I was in control of my own health. I had learned that indifference about antibiotics and a reliance on conventional medicine was a band aid solution at best. It rarely fixed the underlying cause of a problem and could potentially lead to a cascade of other problems.
Here are some of the steps I took over the coming years that highlight my choices to make health and wellbeing centred decisions. For me, conscious decisions like these are holistic ones. I try to consider how my choices will impact others, and also the health of the planet.
- I started choosing alternative modalities such as Chinese medicine, naturopathy and osteopathy. I didn’t discard western medicine completely. I believe that it has its place and there are certain things it does amazingly well. However, my approach became integrative and primarily focused on working with the body’s own innate way of preventing and curing disease. This also included a strong focus on food as medicine.
- In my late twenties, my holistic outlook broadened. Sleep, stress levels, thoughts and relationships became key focus points. The intricacies and relationships between these factors became fascinating to me and I really began to understand health as holistic. There’s a lot more to it than just exercise and nutrition.
- Around this time I also became aware of the chemicals present in our everyday lives. I was aware that I was never going to eliminate all of these and that our bodies have wonderful ways of eliminating unwanted substances. However, I felt that modern society was experiencing an extreme overload of chemicals, with some dire consequences. So my journey of choosing natural and organic options in things like skin care and household products began.
If you are making decisions like these, they don’t need to be overwhelming. Start with one product at a time when you need something new. For example, if you need new toothpaste, think about choosing a natural variety rather than one loaded with chemicals. Then when you need a new toothbrush, think about what you’re buying before buying it. You might consider purchasing a bamboo toothbrush, instead of a plastic one. If you can anticipate the need for something new in advance it certainly helps you to get prepared to purchase it so that it’s ready when you need it.
- By the time I reached my early thirties my understanding about holistic health had evolved further. Along with my partner, we made a conscious and well-informed decision not to vaccinate our daughter (yes I just said that out loud!). We chose a home birth and are on the path to ‘world schooling’ or ‘un-schooling’ her. We have chosen a less conventional life that is based on freedom and purpose.
Decisions like these (especially the decision not to vaccinate) are often met with strong opposition and opinion. However, they are the right ones for us. They are decisions we are confident about and ones that reflect our ability to think consciously. They are not simple decisions and are not right for everyone. The important thing is to realise that everyone is on their own journey and that should be respected, even if it doesn’t make sense to you.
Other more conscious decisions that didn’t come about until recent years included choosing locally made products where possible and supporting individuals and small business where I can. I also became aware of choosing natural, rather than synthetic clothing when possible, as well as actively seeking out second-hand products for certain items.
One of my more recent conscious living decisions was to switch to using a moon cup. I probably switched over just under a year ago and now I can’t believe I didn’t consider it sooner. I had been using organic tampons for a while and thought that was a pretty good choice. Although I believe that technology in the digital age needs to be used mindfully, it’s a very powerful tool for influence and opening minds. I can’t remember exactly, but it was likely a few articles that I read online which consolidated my decision to switch to a moon cup. I really think technology is helping to create a shift towards a more conscious level of living.
What is a recent step that you’ve taken towards living more consciously? Or what’s the next step you’re going to take on your conscious living journey? I’d love to hear about it, so feel free to comment in the box below!
Article by: Elly McGuinness
As a holistic health and fitness coach with 15 years experience, I offer online education, coaching and accountability solutions to help you achieve your goals. I am the published author of a holistic weight loss book and am passionate about helping you to figure out and take action on the missing pieces in your personal puzzle of health.
Born and bred in Gisborne, I am currently living in Penang, Malaysia with my partner and very spirited 3 year old daughter. I have a strong interest in eco-friendly, minimalistic living and a love of good quality dark chocolate.