My life at home is in such contrast

Stirring in me is gratitude about our presence at ESI, where there is an increased focus on mindfulness and compassion. We have entered so many communities and interacted with so many people in the last few days. These people live in smaller spaces with different amenities and may lack basic material resources. The more I learn about these people, the more hypocrisy I can sense in my own life. My life at home is in such contrast with my life here at ESI. I live in a room without air conditioning and clean myself with a small volume of water. This experience makes me more comfortable with the idea of going into going into communities because I feel that we are making a greater effort to understand the people we have met. Not only are we speaking with them, but we are also trying to replicate some of their practices in our residential environment. I am pleased we have taken this step because it will allow us gain empathy through experience.

My experience here has also made me think more critically about my own life. Why do I live so luxuriously at home if I can be perfectly comfortable at ESI? Is it not the meaning of excess to live with things that you can be happy without? I was reflecting about how often I leave commons without having finished all of the my food. The fact that I would take more food than I can actually eat should speak volumes about my character. I must be focusing on the self if I am taking something just because I can. I think my habit comes mostly from a lack of awareness. I am not thinking about how insensitive it is to waste food as I transfer a portion of mashed potatoes onto my plate. This morning, I made an effort to finish all the food that was on my plate. Even when I was beginning to feel full, I decided that it was important to finish the cereal that I had not yet eaten. There was satisfaction for me to look down at an empty plate and know that I had not wasted food. My greatest satisfactions on the program so far have come in the moments where I have done something new in an effort to be more mindful and aware. I hope to maintain these practices when I return to the United States.