Sensory impression is a second kind of food. But this nutriment comes through the eyes, ears, nose, body, and mind. You consume it in many ways, for example, by reading articles – but they may contain toxins like craving, violence, fear, discrimination, or hate. When you watch television programs, they may be full of poisons.
In the city, you are forced to consume what you see in advertisements. Driving in the city, you can’t avoid this kind of material. And that is why mindfulness helps us to protect ourselves, through the practice of mindful consumption; this is the object of the fifth mindfulness training. Our young people may watch television for several hours a day, because their parents are so busy. And while watching television, they may allow the seeds of craving or of violence within themselves to be watered and to grow, grow, grow… This is very dangerous.
Even conversation can be highly toxic. What another person says may be full of hate or despair, and after an hour of listening to them, you may feel paralyzed. So many toxins in what they said. So don’t listen to that kind of conversation too much.
If you are a psychotherapist, it’s not wise to spend all day listening to people’s suffering. You have the seed of suffering in you, and that seed will be watered again and again, until someday you could get sick and have to go to another therapist.
That is why therapists’ practice should be to devote sufficient time for themselves to get in touch with paradise. There must be hours for practicing walking, sitting, and getting in touch with the wonders of life, for their nourishment and solidity, so that they will have enough strength to do the work of listening to suffering. And you must know your limit. If your capacity is to receive six people per day, don’t try to receive more than that, or you will burn out. Your suffering will increase until you won’t be able to continue. That is why, as a therapist, you have to practice: to get in touch with the third noble truth, and with refreshing and healing elements, to nourish yourself, using mindfulness to look deeply into the source of well-being, and practicing mindful consumption so that the negative seeds in you will not be watered.
We have six doors to learn. We have both an inspector and a soldier in front of each door. The doors of the eyes, the ears, the nose, the tongue, the body, and the mind. Do not allow enemies to penetrate your citadel; that is the practice of mindful consumption.
So, you select the film, article, music, and the kind of conversation that will not bring toxins or poisons into yourself. This is the practice of self-protection, and the protection of your family and your community is very urgent.
Step one: the fifth mindfulness training. A basic practice for you and for your community. If you don’t practice this, then these toxins will grow very large, and will push against the door of mind consciousness in order to emerge.
The store consciousness is usually described as being like the basement and the mind consciousness like the living room. And anything you don’t like, you put in the basement; you want to keep the living room beautiful. But those things don’t want to stay in that cave, in the basement.
If they can, they become so strong that they simply push the door open and settle in the mind consciousness without invitation – especially during the night, when you have no means of control. And during the daytime, the violence, craving, hate, and anger push hard, because you have allowed them to grow every day, through un-mindful consumption.
You try to close the door firmly. You set up a kind of mangrove there; you repress those things. And how do you repress yourself? You’re trying to fill up your mind consciousness with other items, and you do that through consumption. If you feel unwellness coming up, you play music to keep the mind busy, you pick up the telephone and talk, you take the car and drive, you turn on the television; you do everything to keep the living room occupied, so that these blocks of pain have no opportunity to come up. That is the policy that many of us adopt.
And the market outside provides us with many items that can be brought into the living room to fill it up, 24 hours a day, because you’re afraid that this pain will come up. But the things that you consume, like television programs, may also contain toxins like craving, hate, and violence. If you consume them, these poisons fall down into the store consciousness, causing the existing blocks of suffering to grow, because they are the fruit of past unmindful consumption.
Unmindful consumption in the present moment makes them grow stronger. This is a very, very dangerous situation; that is why the first step is to stop unmindful consumption, preventing these seeds from growing any larger.
The first step: Mindful consumption. And discuss this strategy of mindful consumption with your beloved ones and the members of your family. In an emergency, you have to meet, like a government cabinet, to discuss the strategy for self-protection, protection of the family, or of a couple. Mindful consumption is the object of the fifth mindfulness training.
Watch the short teaching here: