The end of the year is a time of reflection. We go through cycles of gratitude, fasting, celebrating, traveling, resting and hopefully forgiving.

There’s closure and promise. The new year’s afoot! And there’s grabbing. Grabbing stuff. Accumulating things. Yet more things.

I was shocked to read that, “Advocates say more than 150 people have been killed in Thailand gunfights over rosewood.” This from a NPR article about how rosewood has become a precious and scarcer resource for the making of musical instruments. Rosewood is valued and is called “tonewood.”

It’s only one example (definitely read it, fascinating). Within ourselves too we have a need to consume more than we ever really need. Some of it is cultural programming. Some of it is powerful persuasion through advertising that we need a new item.

But we’re in charge of our internal environment. There are several parallel (and nonmaterial) ways to find fulfillment that are much healthier. That truly sustain us. With the added benefit of lessening the destructive impacts of mass consumption.

Perfect Golden Moment 1 by Jessica Zoop
Year’s end is a mindfulness moment.

It’s a wonderful and warm time. It can be tiring. Yet everyone knows it’s special.

I’m advocating for a better balance. Now there’s pre Black Friday, rendering the original meaningless. It doesn’t stop. So much noise, so much in your face temptation to buy.

Everything we consume has hidden costs that far exceed what we pay for it. Of course we do need things. Our lives are full of utilitarian things we use every day.

Still, using mindfulness to assess our truest needs seems like a good policy. Otherwise it’s difficult to be a conscious consumer.

Not only conscious so that you buy from companies ethical to the Earth, but also conscious about how much one consumes, whether it’s green or not.

Our total consumption is out of control. Which brings us back to the end of the year and all of its ‘feels.’

The essential principal working here is:

When you let go of trying to get more of what you don’t really need, it frees up oceans of energy to make a difference with what you have.

— Lynne Twist

Perhaps we can fill up more on bonding and connection. Find more heartfelt moments with the people in our lives. We could find more personal quiet time. Lay to rest our exhaustion and deepen stillness.

It’s heartwarming to watch a loved one open a beautifully wrapped gift. There are yet many gifts that are intangible, but extremely valuable. Those need to be exchanged as well. Those are the lasting ones.

Moments of sharing presents material and otherwise make amazing memories that feed us, long after the moment has passed. We sit for the family and friends meal to nourish our bodies. We sit with loved ones and also ourselves to nourish our hearts.

All of this parallel and arguably richer interaction and personal/interpersonal content is naturally available. It’s missed because of the rush we’re in. What are we rushing for? That’s not always clear.

What increases mindfulness of gifts unnoticed but always present, is the use of the breath as described below. This is such a simple truth, because every human body is already breathing.

Breathing is the connection between the mind and the body. When the mind concentrates on the breath, it focuses attention on the present moment. Breathing is the first step on the path to discover your spiritual nature. As you get the body to breathe correctly, the mind settles down, and that creates fertile ground to develop whatever spiritual nature exists within you.

— Aaron Hoopes

Cultivating a contemplative center from which to relate to life is vital. To get started is as simple as the above.

If we can show some slow caring to our internal and external environments. Extend this slow care to the items in our psyche and the people around us. Approach it all, from washing dishes to sitting to breathe consciously, with less speed and a pre-conditioned mindset. Let the moments open themselves.

If we can do that, our living moments reveal their richness. We’re fulfilled in an entirely new way.

Let’s all learn how to stop for long stretches of healing time. Let’s all champion pauses in the everyday hustle and  bustle. Let’s notice one another. Let’s find our breath again when we take it for granted.

Let’s invite peace into all our moments. Find silence around and within. There’s deep contentment in silence. It’s a happy place! Silence and stillness are nourishing and healing. It’s from there that we grow understanding and appreciation. It’s from there that we grow love.

Meditation provides a deeper appreciation of the interrelatedness of all things and the part each person plays. The simple rules of this game are honesty with yourself about where you are in your life and learning and listening to hear how it is.

— Ram Dass

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Year’s End is a Mindfulness Moment