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Thinking About Toothpaste at a Meditation Retreat

Posted By Beth Terry On November 10, 2013 @ 9:56 am In Discussion Questions | 28 Comments

It’s been a busy two weeks, and I haven’t had a spare minute to write a blog post. I shouldn’t actually be writing one now because I’m at a silent meditation retreat, and it’s not really allowed.

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But being here at the retreat center, a place I’ve come twice a year for the past 14 years or so, I remembered something that happened here 9 or 10 years ago, and thought I’d share.

On one particular retreat, I forgot to bring toothpaste. And I remember walking down the hill to the local drugstore, then Elephant Pharmacy, and contemplating my choices.  Natural toothpaste like Tom’s of Maine or toothpaste full of synthetic ingredients like Crest or Colgate.  Plastic packaging wasn’t even a consideration back then.

[Note: I realize there are problems with Tom's of Maine toothpaste too.  Keep reading.  This post isn't really about toothpaste.]

I remember turning my nose up at the Tom’s and saying to my friend Mark who was with me, “Ooh.  Icky.”  I chose the sweet, minty fresh Crest and felt kind of smug about NOT choosing the “hippy dippy” option.

As you know, things have really changed since then. A couple of years ago, it happened again… I forgot toothpaste.  And deodorant. This time, I went to the local convenience store and bought a cheap box of baking soda to satisfy both needs.  And I was super careful to only use one little bar of soap. And I remember one year wandering around the retreat center at night and turning off all the non-necessary lights that had been left on.

Anyway, my question to you is… how does this happen? How does someone go from choosing the yummy tingly toothpaste to the one that maybe doesn’t taste as great but leaves you with a clean conscience in addition to clean teeth?

This is the million dollar question. Because seriously, judging people for choosing what feels or tastes or smells good is not going to get them to change.  So what do you think will?


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