THE BLOG

From Prada to Prayer "How I Went From Consumerism to Buddhism"

03/03/2014 14:58 GMT | Updated 29/04/2014 10:59 BST

For those of you who live in a major city, I am pretty sure that you will relate to what I am about to say. Everyone I speak to is on their way to somewhere, or doing something 'important'. Whether that somewhere is to try the latest food craze or make-up, get drunk, go shopping, to catch something on the television, to get online, to take a selfie somewhere cool for a social network, or more often than not, to get to work - I can't remember the last time I asked someone what they were doing and they replied with 'nothing'.

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Oh, and I am exactly the same.

For some reason, I seem completely unable to enjoy the present moment without planning or starting my next move 'forward'. I find it very difficult to just be in the now. There are just so many distractions and if I am honest, most of them are unnecessary and self enforced. Am I addicted to avoiding myself in the present moment? Quite possibly. But so many of us are using compulsive work, exercise or food to avoid the feeling of being alone or just feeling empty.

The StyleAble team spoke to former high flying media exec, Kelsang Lekmon about why she gave up everything - including her job, lifestyle and even her hair - to refocus her life and become an ordained Buddhist nun.

"I decided to become a Buddhist at a good time in my life. A time when I was convinced I had everything I could possibly want (physically that is!), but deep down I knew something was missing.

I had a great job in the media, a fabulous salary, a hectic social life and entertained in a lovely home. I visited hairdressers regularly and could easily spend several hours a day pampering my skin and hair. My handbags and other apparel were designer labelled and I socialised with friends from the same backgrounds. Now, I mostly wear the same clothes, (Buddhist maroon robes), spend zero minutes on my hair (my head is shaved) and any designer handbags that may come my way, are either hand me downs or gifts from family and friends. The clothes, friends, nice job and homes were not giving me all the satisfaction I thought they would. I had to admit I wasn't all that happy. Nothing seemed meaningful enough.

Then, in the local library I came across a book by a Buddhist Meditation Master and Monk, Geshe Kelsang Gyatso. The book said I have the potential to achieve ever increasing happiness (in fact, so does everyone) by working on and depending on a peaceful mind.

That's how it started. By gradually training in formal qualified meditation, I feel I have been able to attain a deeper meaning to life.

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Giving up your power and in fact your liberty to objects external to your mind can only increase your delusion that they are the cause of your happiness. If we can appreciate and use the car, wear the perfume and clothes with contentment and not give them false importance, thinking that "they have the power to make me happy" then we are in control.

I for one am relieved my hair is shaved. When I think of the amount of hours per day I spent on my hair and makeup before I became a nun! I'm very grateful I have so much more time and freedom. I get up every morning and forget about my hair. Can you imagine how freeing that is? In the past, I remember having 3 types of creams...just for my eyelids! I needed so much space for all of my creams and lotions. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy and appreciate others looking attractive - to be honest, I definitely would not turn down the gift of a Louis Vuitton handbag. The difference with me now is that the creams and the handbags no longer control my life - I control them. Yes, it's okay to have a well made handbag, but if it goes tomorrow that's okay too.

Becoming a Buddhist is not so much about what you give up, but more about what you achieve - more confidence and wisdom. Now, I feel so much more in control of my life and feelings, more confident and assured and my attitude so much more positive. I have more understanding of others and most importantly a more meaningful and liberated lifestyle. What I have given up to some extent is poor self worth and negative attitudes."

To read the full article go to the StyleAble website: www.styleable.co.uk

First photo supplied by Shutterstock

Second photo by Eve Newbery