Ideal Christmas Present through the Lens of Mindfulness

I have one Christmas-related tradition: every year approximately two-three days before Christmas I start running around different shops with the eyes as big as the ostrich eggs and panicking, purchase presents. As a result, my friends and relatives are honoured to receive gifts that they need as much as ostrich eggs: again thousandths towels, candles or cups. And every year I have an uncomfortable feeling that I wasted my time and energy in vain and that my stressful efforts, in fact, did not make anybody happy. This year I decided to try a different strategy. And this strategy came to me when I joined the first get-together of a tribe.

Ideal Christmas Present through the Lens of Mindfulness

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Have you ever heard about “Slow-motion tribe”? No, I am not talking about an indigenous tribe. What I mean is a community of people sharing similar values, visions and lifestyles. Being identified by nationality or linguistic background is outdated in the world where most of the borders are imaginary. Being part of a tribe is a way of manifesting your identity through shared values.

Tribes can be different. There are people identifying themselves with brands or those who connect through music, gaming, fashion or way of eating. Following the trend, Impact Hub in Bern sustains its own tribes: self-organized communities of people committed to generating, discussing, trying out and spreading shared ideas, values and philosophies.

Slow-motion tribe is a unique constellation of similar-minded people, founded and sustained by Sylvie Schneuwly. The tribe promotes self-awareness, mindfulness and sustainability applying those values on different domains of our existence. You can eat, dress up, travel, purchase, learn and do a lot of other things mindfully. What you thing, what you do, what you say, what you consume and what you make out of the situation you are having now has a meaning and an impact.

As noticed by Sylvie, mindfulness brings you back into Now-moment that contains numerous possibilities. It might be hard to acknowledge but each moment contains everything you need. If you do not have such an impression, you are probably not conscious enough. Mindfulness takes effort to achieve but at the end, you realize, it is worth investing time and energy. The technique can help you to achieve better awareness about the situation you are currently in and become more grateful for what you have. Mindfulness is also about noticing details that were not previously in your focus of attention. Do you notice for example how many cues shops and markets use to bombard our consciousness in the attempt to stimulate an impulsive pre-Christmas purchasing?

As a part of experiment, I embarked with the team of people (a “tribe”) on a stroll through pre-Christmas shops and markets in Bern. Sylvie explained, that she selected the day when shops stay open till late (“Abendverkauf”) intentionally. It was also proposed to do an experiment as a part of a group to have a different dynamics and to generate some kind of collective consciousness. There were also several conditions to comply with: you should not talk, you should not walk too fast and you should pay attention on your breathing.

First condition was unusual but interesting. In one of the shops consultant tried to approach the “tribe” with a professional “can I help you?” Collective silence was the answer. It was the silence that enabled me to sharpen other senses.

I suddenly realized that my eyes got tired from all this screaming illumination of vitrines where irritating red is somehow omnipresent.

Being silent, I could also realize how noisy pre-Christmas city can be. Especially sounds around the Christmas market reminded somehow of the bee-buzz. I pitied vendors that have to listen to it the whole day through. Another irritation-factor was the smell. I suddenly became aware how persistent it can be during pre-Christmas sales: stands with spices, candles, soaps, candies, even Gluehwein intoxicate you with the only goal to attract you to the counter and get out the purse.

Second condition of the “tribal” experiment, walking slowly, was not so easy for me, a  person that is always on the run. Walking fast, you also think fast, take rushed and impulsive decisions and do not give yourself time to analyse the situation, observing your own response to it. Walking slowly is an exercise that returns you into the present moment and keeps you there for a while. When you cannot escape Now, you embrace it and start to adopt your behaviour to it accordingly. For example, you might not rush to buy a present that you seem to like right away. Instead you might walk from one shop to another, slowly studying the offer and come to the conclusion that nothing of what you see is worth spending on. It can be an overrated price, an unrecyclable packaging, questionable origin and overall uselessness of an object. “Slow-motion tribe” promotes unhurried and deliberate way of leaving: thoughtfulness and pressure-free decision making. As a conscious consumer you might spend less realizing that not everybody needs a present or that some of your friends might be happier with a handmade one. On another occasion, you might be willing to spend more on a (high) quality present: environment-friendly or sustaining the community that produced it. You might give a gift that is not a material object but an experience, highly personalized and memorable one.

Finally, paying attention on your breathing is at the core of the mindfulness. When you feel like buying this or that present, stop for a moment and try to notice whether you start breathing faster? If you feel excitement, try to explain to yourself, why. Is it because you genuinely like what you see on the vitrine or is it because the external marketing cues make you feel this way?

Sometimes we go to the same shops again and again for the reason we cannot explain. In fact, a present can be purchased by brocante, or in a package-free shop, can be handmade or intangible, like a poem or a song. Next time you go to get a Christmas present, try to apply three-fold tactics suggested by Sylvie and see if you act differently!

Interested in Slow-Motion Tribe? Learn more: https://www.facebook.com/Tribe-slow-motion-537883093341199/?ref=br_rs

Sylvie Schneuwly is a creator of the “Slow-Motion tribe”, creator of the “boreout.ch” project, mindful yoga-enthusiast as well as promoter of sustainable and balanced way of living. https://sylvieschneuwly.com/  

Impact Hub is a modern co-working space in Bern, sustaining entrepreneurial spirit, clustering of enthusiasts and spill-over of ideas. http://bern.impacthub.net

 

 

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Anna speaks French, German, English and Russian. She obtained a Master Degree at the University of Bern (Cultural Studies) and a Bachelor at the Lomonosov Moscow State University (Philology). Anna has big interest in such themes as: identity, cultural hybridity, music, and raising children in multicultural context. She is convinced that our children can teach us a lot. They are not born with stereotypes but they risk to acquire them later under external circumstances. Our task as parents is to help them grow as conscious and culture-aware humans.

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