I confess I never really considered there to be too much of a connection between shopping and spirituality. And then I came across an article on spiritual practices for shopping and it got me to thinking that maybe there is a connection after all.
In researching this blog post, I looked up the definition of spirituality and found these two interesting entries:
Wikipaedia says that “the term spirituality lacks a definitive definition although social scientists have defined spirituality as the search for “the sacred,” where “the sacred” is broadly defined as that which is set apart from the ordinary and worthy of veneration.
The use of the term “spirituality” has changed throughout the ages. In modern times spirituality is often separated from Abrahamic religions and connotes a blend of humanistic psychology with mystical and esoteric traditions and eastern religious aimed at personal well-being and personal development.”
Dictionary defines spirituality as “the quality or fact of being spiritual”, with spiritual being defined as “of or pertaining to the spirit or soul, as distinguished from the physical nature”.
Those who have an ongoing spiritual practice talk of how it sustains them, how it nourishes them, how it gives them a feeling of connection, of purpose, of deliverance, of surrender, of refuge and safeness, of depth, of sanctity.
Many of us who have overshopped have probably felt something we equated, however briefly, with the sacred, such is the high that can come with the buy.
But unlike true spiritual sustenance, which does indeed sustain, this kind of impulsive, compulsive shopping does not last. It does not nourish. It does not take us to a higher plane where we feel in connection with All That Is, God, the Universe and everybody in it. We do not feel safe, in fact we can often end up feeling exposed and reduced.
Is that to say that shopping cannot ever have elements of soulness, of sanctity, of spirituality, to it? I don’t believe so. Whilst I would never equate shopping with spiritual practice (that feels deeply disrespectful, if not sacrilegious to me), I do believe that where the two may intersect is when it comes to consciousness.
When you shop consciously, when you are aware and tuned in, you can bring all of yourself into a shopping experience that is on purpose before, during and after the shopping experience.
Strategies for shopping in a state of conscious grace:
1. Before you go shopping
- Write a list based on what you need.
- Take a moment to reflect, meditate, pray or set your intention for the shopping trip. Be aware that you are in a transitional space (a ‘third space’) and you don’t want to leap from what you were doing before shopping into the shopping experience without stopping first to get yourself sorted out.
- Pick at least 2 of your favourite shopping strategies and use them throughout the entire shopping experience. Write them down to keep them in mind while you shop.
- Give thanks – for the fact that you can go shopping, that you have the means and ability to do so, and that positive and healthy shopping experiences are available to you.
2. While you are shopping
- Stick to your list. That’s why you wrote it. It’s your “map”.
- Take frequent breaks, especially if the shopping centre is especially crowded and full of other shoppers (a situation which can be fatiguing more quickly than you imagine).
- Review your purpose, your intention and your shopping list frequently. Do not just wander, stagger or dash from store to store – stay on course with frequent check-ins as to how you’re going. Course correct where necessary.
- Give thanks – for the goods and merchandise you see around you, for the people who were part of creating them and bringing them to market, for the sales people who are assisting you, perhaps even for other shoppers that you see around you and your shopping companions (if you are shopping with others). And also give thanks to yourself, for sticking to your list and shopping plan, and for honouring yourself by shopping mindfully.
- Add up what you’re spending as you go. Yes, write it down. Every single item. You can’t be conscious if you don’t know what you’re spending.
3. After you have shopped
- Return your cart (and if you’re uncertain as to why this issue is so important, check out this witty and on-point piece from Matt Walsh in the HuffPost) if you’ve used one.
- Review what you’ve spent, and how you feel about it. Look at the numbers in your notebook (the one you wrote in while you were shopping, toting up everything you were buying) – are you happy with your purchases, or are there any you wished you hadn’t bought?
- Give thanks – for the items you have purchased, for the money had readily available to buy the things you did, for the home you have to put those items, for the fact that you only purchased items you consciously decided you needed and will fully use, and for anything else that’s important to you now the shopping event is over.
- Return anything that isn’t working, you’ve decided you don’t need or want, or aren’t wearing.
May all the shopping you choose to do be, if not blessed, then at least mindful.