Subverting Overconsumption is like Zen, both in its simplicity and depth. In Zen, you sit and you breathe. That’s all. In and out, in and out. You breathe and breathe and breathe, and nothing happens. And everything happens.

There is something similar about this experiment in consumption. It’s a simple practice. Each day I have something simple and concrete to focus my mind on: don’t buy anything new. For close to one month now I have been practising and my mind has been opening. What began as an exercise in developing more conscious consumer habits is transforming into something much more expansive and all-encompassing.

Subverting Overconsumption isn’t just about buying nothing new. The potential of this practice is far greater that I imagined. As I wake up to the possibilities I realize that I want to do something beyond not buying anything new for a year: I want to increase my net creativity by bringing my consumption and my creative production into better balance. I want what I contribute to the universe to outweigh the resources I consume. I want to give more than I take away.

What does this balance look and feel like? Consumption is not just buying stuff. It’s eating and drinking, learning, watching TV, reading, listening to music. Production is gardening, writing, cooking, drawing, meditating, singing, volunteering, laughing. On their own, neither one has more or less value. The value comes in the balance. If my consumption outweights my production, I am in a position of draining energy from my planet and universe (and probably also from my friends, family and coworkers). If my contribution outweighs the resources I consume, then I am in a position of contributing a surplus of creativity. Neighbours and colleagues with higher consumption:production ratios will be able to buy creative production credits from me like polluting countries can buy credits from less polluting nations!

As a mindfulness practice, Subverting Overconsumption can be applied to more than my purchases. It’s a lens through which every moment can be viewed, a scale that can serve to weigh each choice. Like my breath, it’s a guide that I can return to again and again to focus my mind and energy. Come to think of it, maybe Subverting Overconsumption isn’t just like Zen practice. Maybe it is Zen practice.

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