Posts Tagged ‘zen’

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20 November 2013

I have another confession to make.

I wouldn’t think of wearing a shirt with a giant swoosh across the top, let alone the word “Lacroix” emblazoned across the top (sweetie darling sweetie!). Years ago I gave up on wearing football jerseys — apart from the fact that I am completely crap at anything involving a ball (let alone being tackled), I didn’t want to be a human billboard for whichever corporate sponsor was sponsoring the Parramatta Football Club corporation which is part of the National Rugby League corporation. Want to advertise? Do it on someone else’s chest.

But corporations can be sneaky. In this case, they didn’t dump mercury-containing waste on my back doorstep (or in my dental cavities), feed me genetically-modified corn (frankencorn), charge me $5 for water from my tap or any of the other nefarious things some corporations would love to do to me. Oh no no no no no no. They found my one weak spot, a chink in my armour, and shot an arrow right there:

Tea.

For those of you who know me, I adore a good cup of tea. And, yes, controversially that includes rooibos, my beverage of choice. There is a certain zen to tea drinking; the process of brewing the kettle to the right temperature, the stillness, sipping the tea and letting it envelop the senses. Tea truly is the “heavenly leaf”, and I drink tea partially as a meditation technique as much as anything else. It’s safe to say that I am fervent in my love of tea, and equally distasteful of its evil twin, coffee.

So imagine my delight when I found a boutique tea shop here in Melbourne. T2 was selling me just what I wanted: sencha quince, gunpowder green, loose-leaf rooibos. And there is the tea paraphernalia: special teapots to brew the rooibos in (it has really fine leaves like pine needles, and if you try to brew it in a normal teapot you’ll have leaves everywhere), cups and saucers and travel mugs and tea caddies and magnetic labels. They added cold drip tea, iced tea, and delectable macarons in a quirky but interesting shade of slate blue. Going to T2 became a Sunday afternoon ritual for me, where I bought two bottles of cold drip tea to face Mondays with.

Yep, a corporation had got me. Skewered me beautifully with a whole bunch of tea-related stuff. And I was loving it.

Turns out that T2 was bought by Unilever, a multinational corporation if ever there was one. And my humble, artisanal hand-plucked tea shop was turning into the Australian version of Starbucks, but with tea. And my tea caddies magnetic labels and travel mug? All marked, of course, with a CORPORATE F*CKING LOGO, because that’s just how they roll.

So now I’m looking coolly at my tea paraphernalia. Do I really want a Unilever logo in the sanctuary of my tea cupboard?

No.

Do I want to support this company as it goes down the Starbucks route of dumbing down its tea for the mainstream consumer?

No.

<sigh>

So I’m now on the lookout for new caddies, new labels, a new travel mug. There’s no sense of urgency about this; it’s just that when I think some multinational corporation has weaseled its way into my tea chest, it’s time to say enough is enough.

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Minimalist spirituality

16 April 2013

At the risk of alienating a whole lot of people, I’m going to look at the potential interface between minimialism and spirituality. We could be in for a bumpy ride.

The essence of minimalism is to pare down to essentials; to quote Francis Jourdain, “One can furnish a room very luxuriously by taking out furniture rather than putting it in”. That applies not only to my home (which I do furnish rather sparsely), but to my spirituality as well.

So for me, Hinduism with its panoply of gods, goddesses and demi-gods is right out; I can’t be bothered trying to remember to pray to Ganesh or Kali. And Catholicism and Orthodoxy aren’t much better: which saint do I pray to find my favourite scarf I lost this morning? (As it turned out, a simple retracing of my steps located it, my ochre-and-black striped beauty, no thanks to St Christopher or whoever is responsible for that sort of thing).

The obvious answer, of course, is Zen Buddhism. In Australia, the term “zen” is horribly overused: basically if you paint the walls white, add a few Buddha statues and some scatter cushions with Chinese calligraphy, you have a “zen” look. Nonsense. The only appeal in this so-called “zen” look is that it doesn’t have flowers and scrolls at every damn turn, unlike an awful lot of dross that passes for décor here does.

The Abraham Hicks message, for what it’s worth, has a wonderful simplicity to it: just feel good. Allow your emotions to guide you into pleasing thoughts, and manifestations will follow. Which is indeed pleasing, and I do indeed believe it, but it isn’t what you could call a fully-fledged spiritual path, but more a guide for manifesting what you want. I’m all for manifesting what I want (even a “zen-style bedroom”), but I can’t put down at the next census Religion: Abraham Hicks. Although there’s an awful lot of Australian write “Jedi Knight” as their religion, I won’t be going down that path.

Of course, atheism would appear to be the ultimate minimalist religion: no god, no cause of creation, no higher being, no nothing. Yes, that would have to be the ultimate minimalist religion; except it can’t count as a religion. And while I’m all for simplifying things as much as possible, you can overdo it. It’s like simplifying your house by demolishing the walls; misses the whole point of the exercise, really.

I’ve started doing some meditation with the Brahma Kumaris, and what I’ve encountered so far is good. I probably won’t take up the whole BK thing of wearing all white and going strictly vegetarian. But I am thinking of at least incorporating part of their meditation into my daily practice.

And that’s at least a start.

Abraham Hicks and Clutter (or, Energy Experiment part 2)

26 March 2013

Abraham Hicks gives a number of processes to move up their Emotional Guidance Scale (22 processes to be exact — no, I don’t know the exact significance of there being 22 processes, nor or there being 22 places on the Emotional Guidance Scale. Maybe they just like 22). One of these processes is about eliminating clutter.

I quote: “a cluttered environment can cause a cluttered point of attraction.  If you are surrounded by unfinished work, unanswered letters, incomplete projects, unpaid bills, unnattended to tasks, unsorted piles of paperwork, and stray magazines, catalogs, and all manner of miscellaneous items – they can negatively affect your life experience.” Most importantly, “you all have the capacity for attraction, and when your process is clogged with stuff that you no longer want – the new attraction is slower and then you end up with a feeling of frustration or overwhelment“.

Clogged. Slower. Frustration. Overwhelment. I’m not sure the last one is a word, but it should be. Overwhelment.

It’s been interesting where I currently live, as the house has been horribly cluttered. Put bluntly, shit everywhere. Not even good quality stuff, but total shit. And it’s not my stuff, either; it’s the old lady’s who owns the house, who is now in care due to advancing age and health issues.

As I wrote in an Energy Experiment (part 1, as it turned out) I felt I was locked in an energy battle with the house. And I almost moved out several times, but I stood my ground. Now, finally, I’m starting to win against it.

The kitchen, for the first time, is clear. Still some stuff to clear away (way too many plastic containers, not to mention pots and pans) but it’s much, much better than it was. My bedroom, while still painted hideous clashing shades of blue, now has adequate mosquito netting (and therefore no more mosquitoes).

I’m also aligning my stuff in an orderly manner: I’m shopping my clothing off a list (just as if they were groceries, because that’s what they really are) and allocating a budget. (Last payday I allocated $80 to spend on clothing; I spent $78.10. Success!) I have one box of stuff that I know needs sorting out, but I don’t need to sort it all out right this split second.

Quoting Abraham Hicks again, “everything carries its own vibration, and because you develop a vibrational relationship with everything in your life, your personal belongings do have an impact on the way you feel and on your point of attraction“. Everything. Including all the shit that I’m still surrounded with at home.

However, something positive is coming out of all of this. Here are my two resolves as a result:

  1. All of my stuff will be tidy, sorted, completely listed and done by the end of the year. I’m rewriting my will as part of this in a few weeks (not expecting to die soon, but I do want everything in order). As I explained to my family, if I do die it’ll only take half an hour or so to sort my stuff, it’ll be all in place. My ultimate goal is to enter everything into a spreadsheet.
  2. Do what I can to assist with my current place being tidy and sorted. Finish going through the jewellery and the spice rack, get rid of the mismatched and ugly terracotta pots (was there a sale on ugly terracotta pots?) and even paint my room a soothing white. Get some zen happening there. I like a little minimalism now and zen.

I finish with the final pearl of wisdom from Abraham Hicks: “discard everything from your experience that is not essential to your NOW“.

Goodbye ugly terracotta pots!!!