As you may have already noticed Sustainability in Style is a little bit obsessed with mindfulness practice and the art of meditation.

It might seem odd that a blog founded under guise of sustainability and fashion is so heavily focused on such seemingly unrelated ideas, so today I am taking the time to explain how mindfulness and meditation fits perfectly into the eco-fashionistas shopping arsenal.

Firstly let’s do yet another plug for Mindful In May because A) it is totally awesome, B) you can meditate for a whole month for around the price of one decent yoga class and C) it allows you to harass friends and family to donate money to your cause and raise money for Charity Water. You can join until the 10th of May and are more than welcome to join the Sustainability in Style Team. Now that the plug has ended I can segue into the mindfulness discussion.

Firstly lets look at the two often seemingly interchangeable of ‘Mindfulness’ and ‘Meditation’ are used in our current Western context.

Mindfulness is the intentional art of being in the moment. Where one is focused on the act and sensations of ‘doing’ (even if the doing is just sitting) and the emotions of that moment, and accepts the situation without judgement. Meditation is a tool that can be utilised to teach you how to achieve and perfect the practice of being in the moment. Mindfulness and meditation are very closely linked and can be one in the same thing having both coming from the heart of Buddhism and adapted across religions, dialects, and borders. However in the context of current popular Western media the above definitions seem to fit both the mindfulness and meditation practices that are currently promoted through initiatives like Mindful in May.

Training yourself to think mindfully often occurs through the use of meditation practices. This is how the Mindful in May program works. It teaches you how to use meditation to be aware of how your body and mind feels. Then pushes you beyond what some might call a ‘traditional’ meditation practice (laying or sitting to meditate possibly using a body-scan technique) to include this awareness of self in all activities be it eating a delicious cup-cake, going for a walk, or taking your morning shower.

Ok. So what does this have to do with shopping?

Well a while back I reviewed a couple of books, Impulse and Affluenza. The crux of these publications were that we as consumers have been trained to go on mindless shopping frenzies. These mindless shopping frenzies, despite what some people like to believe, are not our natural state. Those images of people pushing each other over to get to boxing day sales bargains are the result of years of marketing shaping our brains to be super consumers. As someone who worked the ‘front line’ of retail for quite some time I have seen this marketing ploy in action and in some cases been forced to instigate buying frenzies. Watching grown women nearly tear each others hair out for a PVC handbag at 75% off is a scary sight.

As easy as it is to commit yourself to being a ‘shop-a-holic’ and post meme’s on your Insta account saying ‘I have enough clothing and shoes and I don’t need to go shopping. Said no woman ever‘  but you do have a choice. This is where you can use mindfulness in your shopping practice. With a little bit of mindfulness training and prep (think of it as weight training for your mind for big shopping events)  you should be able to head out into the eye of the storm, A.K.A Boxing Day sales and be at peace in the flurry of consumption. If you are shopping with awareness of your feelings, the sensations that shopping brings, and a sense of calmness and surrender to the moment you are aware of what is happening now. Your mind is with you and focused on what is really going on. It prevents from being swept up in a sea of red and white sale signs, frenzied music and bustling shoppers hell bent on bargains at any cost. Stores want you to shop mindlessly because that is how they make their money. Most don’t care if you go home with post-sales buyers remorse and an overworked credit card.

If you don’t believe me perhaps you might like some proof from some academic types.

It didn’t take much researching to find that studies of the cultivation of mindfulness practice has been suggested to encourage positive behavioural changes that would easily extend beyond one cancer intervention study to be inclusive of ‘ shopping and food selection, cooking, and eating in ways that can enhance dietary adherence’. All of which are positives for a shop-a-holic as shopping extends beyond fashion and accessories (I included this study because it is available for free online). While another study on ‘Mindfulness and Sustainable behaviour’ of 100 adults showed a positive relationship between the practice of acting with awareness and observing the sensations and an increase in sustainability minded behaviours. Some academic types according to the paper, believe that we as humans are ‘all up there in our minds’ being inside ourselves and disconnected from the world. So focusing on being in the here and now and feeling the ‘outside world’ on our body can bring the connection between our mind and nature back into balance.

Through the use of mindfulness and reflection there is a school of thought that promotes this practise as the ‘antidote to consumerism’. It is thought that many shop to fill a void within themselves hoping that the next new thing will make the happy. Practising on fulfilling that ‘void’ by focusing on non-consumer experiences that make you happy can allow you to reduce your reliance on retail therapy. Which, by the way is not cheaper than seeing a therapist, believe me, I have seen how much money those going through a hard time can spend in one shopping session (I have served you and know all your secrets). Unfortunately this fabulous study on ‘Mindfulness and Sustainable Behaviour‘ is in a paid access journal but if you are a uni student I totally recommend asking your librarian to provide you access if you don’t already have it.

So there you have it. Mindfulness is good for your budget and your mental health.

If you haven’t already signed up to the Mindful in May meditation challenge you have a few days before registration closes. If you feel like this is not your thing but want to show us all how damn awesome you are by donating to our team to provide clean water to developing countries you can do so here.

Over the next month Sustainability in Style will have a mindfulness theme focus. This is the perfect excuse for me to share lots of studies, tips and tricks with you and write food related posts (which is something I have wanted to do for a while but had no excuse to do.

Share your thoughts on mindful shopping with us below.