Inner Reflections
October 11, 2020

Practice Off The Mat: Values-Based Purchasing

I was born and raised in the city of Los Angeles.  It wasn’t until college that I became aware how rare this was and surprising to people.  At my UCLA orientation freshman year, students would shriek, “you were born here?!”  As if children couldn’t somehow survive growing up in this place and possibly turnout normal.

Immersed in the entertainment industry a continuous concern for self-image subconsciously permeates the city.  Surrounded by billboards, advertisements, and newsstands filled with the latest celebrity-centric magazines, all while growing up in the 90’s amidst the climax of the plastic surgery craze, it was easy to get swept away in myriad of confusing messages about what made a girl beautiful.

The message certainly wasn’t that beauty could be found within but instead was only “skin deep.” It was a time when the external seemed to matter more than the internal, a time when heavy MAC makeup was all the rage and Sephora was exploding.  Walking into the local pharmacy was like walking into a magical land of skincare options in a variety of colorful packages, interesting scents, and the latest promises for blemish-free skin.  The plethora of options was astonishing and overwhelming.  The message was “more is better” and value-centric purchasing was entirely absent.

During college, I discovered yoga and began a journey of inner inquiry and self-discovery.  Eventually, the practice began to alter the way I perceived myself and yogic philosophy began to shift the choices I was making ranging from nutrition to personal care products.  I started to become curious about the choices I was making and why.

One day, after many years of practice, I returned home after a visit to the local pharmacy carrying bags loaded with shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face cleansers, moisturizer, and more because who doesn’t feel better with a little self-care in the form of new goodies?

My then boyfriend, now husband Travis, questioned the quality of what was in the bags.  We looked at the ingredients and read a list of toxic sounding elements that we couldn’t pronounce.  The packaging also revealed that the products were, in all likelihood, tested on animals and were not marked with the “cruelty-free” stamp.

At first, I felt frustrated.  I thought I had done something nice for us and our home but I quickly realized that keeping these products didn’t feel in alignment with my values.  I drove back to the store and returned the items opting to purchase new products with fewer and cleaner ingredients that promised no animal testing.  This moment marked a shift in my consuming habits and brought me forward into a new way of viewing the power of my dollar.

We can consciously consume nutritious food, high quality water, and skin-enhancing supplements but if we lack consciousness around what we put our hard-earned money towards, we could be causing more harm than we realize and be living out of alignment with what we truly value.

If we value health, integrity, and compassion we need to apply those values to every purchase we make.  At first you might feel resistant to this change, especially if there are certain products you’ve been using for many years that you love and feel attached to.  You may have to experiment with a few new products so be patient and remember that you are making a conscious shift to align your personal values with your purchasing power.

We can act on our values by supporting smaller companies that focus on conscious production and hold themselves accountable for high-quality ingredients and low environmental impact.  Applying your purchasing power in this way not only feels good but in return, you’re also supporting small businesses that value your input and are working to apply these values throughout our world, beyond ourselves and across our planet.

The next time you find yourself about to make an impromptu purchase, put mindfulness into action and pause.  Take a moment and consider the following: Do I really need this? Why am I buying this? Does this product and company align with my values? Then, check the label, review the ingredients, and verify the stamps on the back of the package.

Maybe even take some time to reflect on your experience or share with others what you learn!  How does it feel to purchase in this way? How does it feel to fully live your values on and off your mat? Your body, your longevity, and the vitality of our planet deserve this level of conscious consumption. I promise not only will your body feel better for it, but so will your heart.

Below are some recommended practices to claim your power and enliven your heart space: