When I was a little girl, my mother would not allow us sugary food except on special occasions. Stressed out from school, I used to sneak into the sweets cabinets and gulp down as much chocolate as I could before getting caught. The tension that made me crave sugar grew over the years and so did my abusive relationship with food. After two years of chronic gastritis during high school, I started realizing that as much as most people, including myself, try, life is never controllable nor is it about trying to fulfill other people’s expectations of you.
Through my studies of Business and Sustainability alongside my practice of MBSR (Mindfulness based Stress Reduction) and meditation starting after high school, I feel that the status quo of the world’s consumption levels and the corresponding environmental and social destruction needs more than an external “fix” in the form of CO2 quota or policies. The real crisis lies within us and our materialistic values, concerns and cravings. Mindfulness has brought me a natural sufficiency and happiness. I no longer eat chocolate because I feel forced to by my cravings, but because I am choosing to enjoy myself in voluntary moderation (well, at least most of the time (-;)
At the Technical University Berlin, we recently launched the three-year project “Education for Sustainable Consumption through Mindfulness Training”(BiNKA), funded by the ministry of education and research.
The idea for the project came about from my own personal history. Nowadays, many people – including myself – are indeed conscious of the negative effects that our consumption has on nature and human life, but it’s still very difficult to convert destructive habits into more sustainable or healthier ways of consumption.
The goal of BiNKA is to bridge that gap between our intentions and our actions through mindfulness and of course not only because of my personal experience with it. The concept of mindfulness, as has been shown in a growing body of research, includes the ability to self-reflect on your behavior and thus gain consciousness but furthermore, it may help raise your awareness from moment to moment, possibly allowing you to align consumption related values and intentions with actions, instead of unconsciously giving in to unhealthy and often stress induced cravings.