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The Hungry Ghost within: Taming the insatiable cravings and embracing a life of purpose

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photo: Victoria Alexandrova, unsplash

Confessions of a Shopaholic: I must confess, there was a time when I used to find solace in shopping. It was a thrill hopping from one shop to another, especially back in my hometown of Johannesburg. Those memories of window-shopping are etched in my mind as happy moments.

But you know what? That love affair with shopping didn’t fade away with time. It stuck around well into my adult years. Weekends turned into full-blown shopping sprees disguised as “running errands”. I just couldn’t resist the temptation of the latest fashion trends and home decor treasures. I pushed my budget to the limit, sacrificing precious hours to satisfy that insatiable desire. But here’s the kicker: the fleeting happiness from each purchase never lasted. It left me wanting more, caught in an endless cycle of craving.


Understanding the difference between wants and needs:

We all know the difference between needs and wants, right? But let’s be honest, sometimes it’s hard to tell. Our consumer-driven society blurs the lines, and suddenly shopping becomes a way to cope with a bad day or keep up with others. Sound familiar?


The Hungry Ghost metaphor:

Ever heard of the Hungry Ghost? It’s a concept from Buddhism, and it represents our insatiable desires. Picture this: these ghosts have big bellies and tiny mouths, symbolising their inability to find fulfillment. It’s a warning sign, reminding us of the suffering that comes when we’re consumed by cravings. Speaking from experience, I’ve been there, trapped in that never-ending cycle.


Breaking free from the pursuit of wants:

For years, I wrestled with the notion of wanting less. My mind understood that I needed no more than what I already possessed, but the relentless yearning persisted, keeping me ensnared in a comfort zone that stifled growth. It was time to break free and embark on a transformative journey.

Here’s a golden nugget of wisdom from Arthur C Brooks: true satisfaction isn’t about achievements or material possessions. It’s about breaking free from the constant chase for more and finding gratitude for what we already have. I know, easier said than done, right? But it starts with rewiring the stories we tell ourselves. We need to question why we believe acquiring something new will make us happy. Trust me, it’s a game-changer.


Finding contentment in the present moment:

In our busy lives, it’s easy to get caught up in distractions and miss out on the beauty of the present moment. Yoga helped me find peace in the present moment, where reality truly exists. Through the guidance of my Yoga teacher, who I fondly refer to as “Shakti” – meaning a powerful force of feminine energy – I learned to try let go of racing thoughts and distractions, and to embrace a mindful state of being. I discovered solace in the present, and it opened my eyes to a profound sense of presence. Try to practise mindful presence within your home and family. Engage fully in conversations, play with your children, and truly listen to your loved ones. By being present, you can savour the small joys and meaningful interactions that often go unnoticed. It’s a journey of self-discovery, embracing the seeker of truth within.


Cultivating gratitude and redefining normal:

Practising gratitude regularly is a powerful way to appreciate what we already have. When the urge to buy something new arises, we can redirect our focus to gratitude for similar items we already possess. We can also express gratitude for the things we don’t have, recognising the true cost of new purchases in terms of time, money, space and energy.

And you know what else? Our perception of what’s “normal” changes over time. We start seeing luxuries as necessities, but we have the power to redefine our normal. By consciously reducing our consumption and embracing a “less is more” lifestyle, we find contentment and surround ourselves with like-minded individuals who reinforce our pursuit of satisfaction.


Resisting the temptation of instant gratification:

In a world of instant everything, resisting immediate gratification takes practice. Technology has made it so easy to fulfill our desires within minutes, leaving little room for reflection. Overcoming this impulse takes practice and repetition. But here’s the thing: by starting small and gradually building resistance, we regain control over our wanting.


Discovering abundance within:

True happiness isn’t found in constantly seeking more. It’s about developing the capacity to enjoy less and unveiling the abundance within our hearts. We learn from the past without dwelling in regret and embrace the present moment where genuine joy is found. It’s a journey of gratitude, self-discovery and breaking free from the never-ending cycle of wanting.

So, my journey of embracing mindful consumption and overcoming insatiable wanting is a work in progress. But through awareness, gratitude and living in the present, I’m  learning to gain control over my material desires and find contentment with what I already possess. The metaphor of the Hungry Ghost serves as a constant reminder of the consequences of insatiable craving and the need to break free from its grip. So, let’s rewrite our stories, cultivate gratitude, normalise living with less, resist instant gratification and seek abundance within. Together, we can embark on a path of balance, fulfillment and lasting happiness. Join me on this transformative journey!



Freda Yannitsas is a committed Mindfulness Advocate and Feng Shui Strategist, merging the insights of ancient Greek philosophers and Eastern traditions. She provides a harmonious blend of remedies and practices, guiding people towards wise and mindful living while activating positive energies in their living spaces.


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