What Is Conscious Living (2022)

Written By Teyah Payne

Teyah Nichole

What Is Conscious Living (1)


(Video) Conscious Living | Shrutika Mane | TEDxUniAdelaide

Conscious living and sustainable lifestyles is everything we stand for at W&S. But what does conscious living even mean? How is conscious living different from the popular notion of sustainability? Hear from our founder Teyah, in an essay she wrote summer 2021, on what conscious living is all about.

What Does Conscious Living Mean?

Conscious living, while perhaps evoking similar aesthetics, in many ways lacks the trappings of your typical “buzz” word. It differs from similar things like the “sustainability”or “mindful living” sentiments that we’ve all seen plenty of times before. This is because a conscious living ethos remains inconspicuous.

As I write, “conscious living” in environmentalist circles only comes up sometimes indirectly in reference to “hot topics” (i.e. H&M’s green-washing attempt at a conscious line). Beyond that, it’s really only used within spirituality and self improvement spaces. In these contexts, the phrase typically refers to some sort of general practice that aims for its followers to choose to exist in a way that awakens or is in line with one’s higher self or calling.

While I subscribe to some of these ideas when thinking about what it means to live a conscious lifestyle, I don’t feel the above notions alone capture the full depth of what conscious living means. Too often, these definitions of conscious living focus solely on the individual and pay inadequate attention to the wider human, and non-human, community.

What Is Conscious Living (2)

The English Dictionary defines “conscious” as:

  1. aware of one's own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc.

  2. fully aware of or sensitive to something (often followed by of)

  3. aware of what one is doing

Clearly, the conjunctive theme here is a refined sense of awareness. Again, this nuanced approach to awareness that defines what it truly means to be conscious isn’t always applied in the majority of conscious living mentalities, which minimises the philosophy’s potency.

That is why when we at W&S think of conscious living, we imagine it as a state in which you are not only as aware as possible of yourself, but of the people around you and your environment. Our philosophy of conscious living always refers to something intersectional, community-based, and concerned with the full complexities of natural processes.

Conscious Living VS. Sustainability

For the sake of transparency, I haven’t always called the philosophy I live by conscious living. As a “zillennial” concerned with nature and culture, it was easy for me to attach to the zeitgeist of “sustainable” or “mindful” living.

At first glance, it may seem that conscious living and sustainability are the same.However, I was never fulfilled due to the former’s obfuscation and the ladder’s appropriative reimagining of Eastern culture.I didn’t use the language of “conscious living” until early 2021.

I was scrolling through instagram one day and came across the bio of Arti Jalan (@forageandsustain) reading: Sustainable and Conscious Living. Her choice of phrasing immediately stuck with me. It was the first time I realized what I meant to follow, that is living consciously, was different from living sustainably.

(Video) What is Conscious Living All About?

Conscious living isn’t the same as sustainability, and there’s merit in defining the two as their own separate ideas

Conscious living isn’t the same as sustainability, and there’s merit in defining the two as their own separate ideas. Conscious living, unlike sustainability, refers to a state of being. It is an overarching intention, whereas sustainability is better viewed as a tool one might use to help reach it.

This distinction is important for many reasons.

The first being it allows for more diversity in discussions relating to the relationship between humans and nature. Sustainability has been repeatedly critiqued as an exclusionary concept. This is because the popular sustainability movement has in most part defined itself, regardless of intent, through the lens of an upper middle class, able-bodied Eurocentrism.

As a result, its attempts to create a universal movement towards a better future doesn’t always work or resonate with the majority of people inhabiting the Earth. Marginalised ethnic groups, women’s groups, and disabled groups have all spoken out.

What Is Conscious Living (3)

Some noteworthy examples of this include the misleading anti-straw movement, tone-deaf policing of non-vegetarian/vegan diets of non-white people, and the appropriation of second-hand shopping and thrifting at expense of low-income individuals. In all of these examples, sustainability harms because it aims to define progress through the eyes of a very small, privileged group of people.

Ask yourself, how many major sustainable brands, companies, or organizations, aiming to appeal to women of all races, included non-white women in their promotional imagery before June 2020? Disabled women? Low-income women? How many of them have kept their commitments to this day? Unfortunately, very few of them.

Conscious living benefits from not being a part of these exclusionary legacies, and therefore might be a more effective alternative for recruiting newcomers into the rally against harmful practices unaligned with a progressive future.

What conscious living looks like for me, an Afro-Latina from the US living in London, might look entirely different from someone else who doesn’t share the same intersections and experiences as I do. This is because conscious living encourages a case by case awareness, instead of creating narrow boundaries between things that are “good” or “bad” for progress.

What Is Conscious Living (4)

Another thing that separates conscious living from sustainability is its wider focus on things outside the commonly applied sustainability scope. Conscious living, as defined by W&S, explicitly focuses on issues related to mental health, community-building and support, spirituality, and much more.

In contrast, sustainability and its aim to meet “the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs”, while technically included, rarely does its due diligence to address the spiritual, emotional, and mental health needs of people and their communities.

Some would go as far to argue that sustainability’s social element is practically ignored and therefore has a tendency to reproduce classism. This failure may be a result of there being confusion around both what social sustainability even means and an overall bias towards focusing on sustainability’s environmental element.

(Video) Conscious Living Conscious Dying - Ram Dass Full Lecture

Regardless, the sustainability concept does not go far enough to address the social, and I view conscious living as an opportunity to bridge that gap.

What Is Conscious Living (5)

To be clear, this isn’t me arguing we throw away the concept of sustainability altogether. Sustainability is a popular buzzword that helps get environmental conversations started, and it still remains a concept much engrained in political and economic discourse.Sustainability can also be a useful tool when beginning to brainstorm where society should be heading toward

The last thing to keep in mind is that the goal with conscious living isn’t to make everyone adhere to the impossible goal of adopting a universal standard or lifestyle. Consciousness should never be weaponized.

Instead, it seeks to allow people from all walks of life to assess what they can do to be more aware of the needs of their communities, their planet, and themselves. Then, using this awareness to make progressive impacts by whatever means they are able.

What Are The Basic Elements Of Conscious Living?



We touched on this earlier, but conscious living and intersectionality go hand in hand.

Awareness of the nuances of lived experiences is what allows conscious living to be something anyone can take part in. It’s the fundamental principle that encourages people to approach a better future the best way they’re able, without judgement or the pressure to strive for things unattainable.


Holding oneself and community to equal regard

At W&S, we cannot stress enough the importance of being present with the self and the community. Many of the challenges we face as a society are a result of our failed ability to connect with one another.

However, we understand that, to borrow the words of Caroline Herschel, the personal is the political. Meaning, the outcomes on the individual level or reflections of the collective.

More, how we treat ourselves directly impacts how we treat others. We struggle more to show up for others when we struggle to show up for ourselves.

Therefore, one cannot ignore themselves or their needs in the process of creating a better future. Searching for a balance between community and the self is key to conscious living!

What Is Conscious Living (6)


(Video) Sadhguru - Conscious way of living your life

Acknowledging Marginalized Perspectives in Storytelling

In the same vein as intersectionality lies the importance of centering the marginalized. Centering marginalized voices is a conscious choice that aims to directly upend racial and cultural hierarchies that cause marginalization in the first place.

At W&S, we’re focused on the perspectives of women of colour, but we understand there are other types of marginalized groups.

Depending on what you are addressing, these groups might look different. For example, black women are often left out of conversations in mainstream feminism, but trans black women are often left out of conversations specific to black feminism.

Having an awareness surrounding whose voices are missing from or dominate a particular conversation, whatever it may be, is fundamental to trying to live a more conscious life.


Creating A Land Community

Animal rights, sustainability, or other eco-adjacent perspectives can be counterintuitive for the goal of making a better future in practice. This is not to say these perspectives aren’t useful; they can be.

Still, these perspectives aren’t concerned about the complex social and political identities that impact people’s relationship with the world. As a result, they sometimes reinforce or exacerbate exclusionary and violent ideals that don;t serve the greater good.

A good example of this would be the comparisons made by animal rights activists between violence that animals experience as a result of food and clothing production to that of racist violence humans experience due to colonialism and slavery.

Thanks For Reading!

Conscious living as a practice means continuously redefining the ways by which we live, act, think, and behave. Remember that this is an endless journey of exploration and growth. For that reason, it at times may feel frustrating. Remember to give yourself, and others, grace!

May We Also Suggest…



Teyah Payne

Teyah Is the Founder & Creative Director of W&S. She is also a PhD Student and activist, focusing mainly on making progressive impacts in feminism, environmentalism, and culture. CLICK HERE to learn more about Teyah and her work.

(Video) CONSCIOUS LIVING by Rich Life



What does it mean by conscious living? ›

Conscious living is a way of life that is deliberate and well-thought-out. The lifestyle largely involves maximum awareness of yourself, immediate surroundings, and the world at large. Awareness at these various levels helps inform your day-to-day decisions and influence how you experience life.

How do you live with your conscious? ›

What It Means To Live Consciously. Living consciously means being intentional with your words, action, habits, everything. You don't act for the sake of acting, but you do it with intention. For instance, if you ever see those talking just to fill the silence, that's what unconscious living is.

Why is it important to live consciously? ›

Living consciously means first and foremost being aware of yourself and paying attention to your own needs. A conscious lifestyle enriches your everyday life. A more conscious approach to life helps us to better understand other people as well. Living consciously means enjoying every single moment.

How can I be conscious all the time? ›

5 Ways to Become More Self-Aware
  1. Meditate. Yes, meditate. ...
  2. Write down your key plans and priorities. One of the best ways to increase self-awareness is to write down what you want to do and track your progress. ...
  3. Take psychometric tests. ...
  4. Ask trusted friends. ...
  5. Get regular feedback at work.
11 Feb 2015

What does conscious mean in simple words? ›

1 : having mental faculties not dulled by sleep, faintness, or stupor : awake became conscious after the anesthesia wore off. 2 : perceiving, apprehending, or noticing with a degree of controlled thought or observation conscious of having succeeded was conscious that someone was watching.

What is an example of being conscious? ›

The definition of conscious is the awareness that something is happening or is the normal state of being awake. An example of conscious is waking up in the morning. An example of conscious is someone coming to after passing out.

What does conscious feel like? ›

Consciousness feels like an on-off phenomenon: either you're awake and experiencing the world or you're not. But finding the button, or even the dimmer switch that allows our brains to move between these states, is tricky.

Why is it important to develop a conscious mind? ›

First, you gain a deeper understanding of your emotional constitution. You begin to clearly understand why you feel the way you do. Secondly, you develop the ability to control your emotional state. With practice you can learn to maintain a positive emotional state regardless of external circumstances.

How do you know if you are conscious? ›

The major characteristics of consciousness are alertness and being oriented to place and time. Alertness means that you're able to respond appropriately to the people and things around you. Being oriented to place and time means that you know who you are, where you are, where you live, and what time it is.

What is conscious behavior? ›

Conscious behavior in psychology derives from conscious thought processes, those thoughts of which we are actively aware. It is basically any behavior that is completed willingly with intent derived from your own volition.

What is conscious in a sentence? ›

If you are conscious of something, you notice it or realize that it is happening. He was conscious of the faint, musky aroma of aftershave. She was very conscious of Max studying her.

What type of word is conscious? ›

Conscious is an adjective that simply means alert and awake.

Who is a conscious person? ›

What is a conscious person? A conscious person may refer to a person who is awake and aware. The phrase can also refer to a person who is aware of certain things in the environment, such as a person who is environmentally conscious, financially conscious, or emotionally conscious.

What are the three types of conscious? ›

Sigmund Freud divided human consciousness into three levels of awareness: the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. Each of these levels corresponds to and overlaps with Freud's ideas of the id, ego, and superego.

What are conscious needs? ›

Conscious needs as those that a subject can self-report, while unconscious needs are all others. The quality of our conscious needs is the test of our progress.

What is your conscious mind? ›

The conscious mind contains all of the thoughts, memories, feelings, and wishes of which we are aware at any given moment. This is the aspect of our mental processing that we can think and talk about rationally.

What is the conscious experience? ›

Conscious experience. The first-person perspective of a mental event, such as feeling some sensory input, a memory, an idea, an emotion, a mood, or a continuous temporal sequence of happenings. Contemplative science.

Do humans have conscious? ›

We know that consciousness exists only because we are conscious. Neuroscientists correlate certain kinds of brain activity with certain kinds of experience. We now know which kinds of brain activity are associated with feelings of hunger, pleasure, pain, and so on.

How can I control my conscious mind? ›

10 Tips to Take Charge of Your Mindset and Control Your Thoughts
  1. Naming.
  2. Acceptance.
  3. Meditation.
  4. Shifting perspective.
  5. Positive thinking.
  6. Guided imagery.
  7. Writing.
  8. Focused distractions.
8 Jan 2021

How does consciousness affect behavior? ›

Consciousness seems especially useful for enabling behavior to be shaped by nonpresent factors and by social and cultural information, as well as for dealing with multiple competing options or impulses. It is plausible that almost every human behavior comes from a mixture of conscious and unconscious processing.

Why did God give us a conscience? ›

The conscience is a wonderful gift from God. He has generously placed His standards of right and wrong in the mind of every person. He's done this to lead us into the best life possible. Without a conscience, we'd have no ability to function in community.

What are different types of conscious? ›

For instance, philosophers distinguish between access and phenomenal consciousness, levels of consciousness, creature and state consciousness, transitive and intransitive consciousness, as well as various types of self-consciousness (see Van Gulick, 2018).

What are the three types of conscious? ›

Sigmund Freud divided human consciousness into three levels of awareness: the conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. Each of these levels corresponds to and overlaps with Freud's ideas of the id, ego, and superego.

What are the three levels of conscious? ›

The famed psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud believed that behavior and personality were derived from the constant and unique interaction of conflicting psychological forces that operate at three different levels of awareness: the preconscious, conscious, and unconscious.

What are the characteristics of conscious? ›

At any one moment the contents of consciousness can be characterized by one or more of these features, though not necessarily by all of them at the same time: (1) sensory perception; (2) mental imagery; (3) inner speech; (4) conceptual thought; (5) remembering; (6) emotional feeling (7) volition; and (8) self-awareness ...

What is your conscious mind? ›

The conscious mind involves all the things you are currently aware of and are thinking about. It is somewhat akin to short-term memory and is limited in capacity. Your awareness of yourself and the world around you is part of your consciousness.

How many conscious do we have? ›

We can view consciousness as three distinct levels: the conscious, the subconscious (or preconscious), and the unconscious.

How many types of conscious are there? ›

Two common states of awareness exist: conscious and unconscious. Where the term unconscious represents of a lack of awareness, consciousness itself can present with varying levels of awareness. This is often referred to as a person's state of consciousness.


1. Stephen Levine (1937-2016): Conscious Living, Conscious Dying -- Thinking Allowed (Part 1 complete)
2. The Key To Conscious Living And Finding Radical Fulfilment | Emily Gallagher | TEDxUOA
(TEDx Talks)
3. Evolving into Consciousness | Sadhguru
4. Conscious Living.
5. Lesson 4 - What is Conscious Living?
(Robin's WellNest)
6. What is conscious living?
(Faisal Ensaun)

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