I remember my parents telling me to focus when I was younger and I remember knowing they were trying to help me, but they didn’t really help me because I didn’t know how to focus!!
Now I’m learning that bringing your attention to what you are doing is mindful, it is focused, it is being grounded, with your feet on the ground, all those expressions! It is being engaged in your life, in the present moment, it is caring about yourself enough to notice what is going on, even if that means that you notice you are 20 minutes ahead of where you are in your day! Mindfulness is noticing where your attention is or isn’t, it’s noticing that you are thinking about ice cream instead of having your attention on your two year old who is climbing up on the stool to reach the ice creams cones that you hid on the top shelf.
I first read about mindfulness in a beautiful parenting book that literally turned my parenting style around with great benefits called, “Everyday Blessings: The inner work of mindful parenting.” I’ve come across mindfulness more and more as I continue to grow and heal and look inside to find out what is preventing me from living my true life. There are many brilliant ways to learn about mindfulness and to live mindfully. This post won’t be about all those brilliant ways, but rather about what I recently brought my attention to while shopping.
We tend to buy organic food when it is available and affordable. For the most part, we don’t eat as many packaged foods with the exception of crackers and chips and pastas! We all still love those! I’ve brought my attention to food labels whenever we buy something that is in a package and it’s a way of being aware of what I’m choosing to put into my body and to feed to my family. We know our bodies can digest and process anything (please see the My Healings section of this blog and My Food Healing for more information!), but we’re choosing to eat healthy foods so our bodies don’t have to work as hard. I have realized as I’ve shopped over this past year, that just because something is gluten free, or organic or sold as a natural product in a health food store, that it doesn’t mean that it is nutritious or wholesome. I’ve been surprised that some of the supposedly healthy foods sold in packages are sometimes just as “junky” as their name brand counterparts. I have found it both rewarding and refreshing to pick up those products, read the ingredients and then put them back. It makes me feel like my awareness and the attention I put into food is worthwhile. So here is the exception!
I was going to a local store here in Ottawa because they sell organic ice cream. The store, Rainbow Foods, is the only one I’ve found that sells it. So when I saw that it was on sale, I said to my daughter, “oh they have strawberry, do you want to try that too?” She agreed, so I grabbed it without even looking. I saw a picture of a strawberry on the packaging, it’s from a company that I buy from regularly and that I’ve always been impressed with, so I bought it! We brought it home and we opened it up right away to try. For some reason, at that point, I read the ingredients and it said, “natural flavor” and there were no actual strawberries in it. I felt so misled and disappointed. How could that be? How could there be no actual berries in it? I felt like I was in a science fiction book where you get to choose from wafer 1-15, each with a different flavor because fruits and vegetables and “real food” couldn’t be grown any more because people had taken up all the space. It was a real moment of “wow” for me, like, wow, how could they do that? How could there be the word “strawberry” on the outside of the package, without the front of the container having to say, “strawberry flavoured ice cream”. I used to work at Health Canada before my daughter was born and there are so many food regulations, and I was really surprised that there wasn’t a regulation that stipulated that if there is no actual ingredient, then the packaging must obviously state, “flavoured”.
It really reminded me to continue to bring my attention to the foods I purchase with our money and that we eat to nourish our bodies. I am planning on writing to the company to express my disappointment and I may even look into if there are any regulatory requirements for that as it is very misleading otherwise. I found a container of organic strawberry yogurt today that didn’t have any strawberries, only flavour and red cabbage to make the color. Wow again. Strawberry yogurt with cabbage in it instead of strawberries.
All that to say, it is important to be mindful while shopping, especially as we buy food to nourish our bodies. I’m not mindful of clothing and other goods yet and knowing which companies best support their workers or which countries have regulations to protect their workers from poor working conditions and low wages, but one step at a time! Please share any examples that you have come across as you have explored living more mindfully and what has really caught your attention as you open up your heart and your eyes to your life and what is really going on as you live it!!