The Yoga of Stuff

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As I continue to eliminate the unwanted from my life I am constantly rubbing up against the ten tenets of Yoga. I can’t help it, I teach this stuff, I’m immersed in it. Just in case you’re working on your own purge, I thought I would share these gems with you today. Some seem more applicable to purging than others, but on some level they all kind of fit.

I’ll present them all to you simply and in English. Keep in mind that each of these is asking us to first look at how we are treating ourselves in thought, word or deed, then how we are with others. We cannot fully love another – without strings, conditions or barriers – without truly love ourselves. I know, that’s why it’s called a practice.

I’ll also fit them into the Minimalist/Purging framework, although I am certain you will recognize how these may apply more broadly to all of life.

The first five are restraints, those things we practice NOT doing. The second five are observations or those things we DO practice.

Not harming – Seems simple enough. Don’t hurt yourself, don’t hurt others. How might you be hurting yourself with stuff (other than tripping over it)? One way may be holding onto items that evoke negative or sad memories. Perhaps just having too much stuff is limiting; there’s a lot more to clean and manage that may be taking time away from what you’d really love to do. Or maybe too much stuff is simply stressing you out, clogging up your energy and creating general malaise.

Not lying or truthfulness – If you were completely honest with yourself would you really hold onto so much?

Not stealing – Obviously don’t take other people’s stuff, we’re trying to unload our own, remember? But what if we’re holding onto things that we’re not using, haven’t used for years, that could be useful to someone else?

Moderation – Be mindful about what you bring into your home, what you purchase, how much you have. Chances are you don’t need more organizational systems for your stuff, you need less stuff.

Non-attachment or non-hoarding – I probably don’t really need to elaborate.

Purity – Here’s an opportunity to visit your intentions with each of your things, especially when you’re considering bringing more things in. I like to equate purity with space and clutter with toxicity.

Contentment – Does your stuff bring you contentment? Hint: If you are constantly looking for things, probably not.

Discipline – This one is two-fold for me. There’s the obvious discipline of not bringing more unnecessary stuff into your home or life, but there’s also the structure to have what is already in your possession organized. A place for everything and the discipline to put it away when you aren’t using it.

Self-study – Watch your reactions to things. If you decide you’re going to clean out your clothes closet, notice what you are attached to and question it. Is it something you hope to fit into one day? Is it encouraging or frustrating? Is it even still in style or appropriate for where you are now? Could someone else benefit by having it?

Surrender – Ultimately, it’s about letting go of attachment. Trusting the process. When you create more physical space it allows room for more to come in. It’s not so much a shirt for a shirt, but more like a shirt for increased creativity or a raise at work or meeting a new special someone. Letting go is not giving up, it’s opening the door to opportunity.

Whether you’re a woo woo energy person or a chemical engineer I trust you know that more space and less stuff is good for you. Maybe these 10 guidelines will help, maybe you can redefine them to better fit your situation.

When you can come at this with compassion for yourself and your stuff it can be a very liberating experience.

 

 

 

 

Nature Nurtures

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Sitting outside on my patio staring at all things green. Too much swirling around in my head right now to focus on one subject to expound on.

How America got the whole food thing wrong somehow. When I travel I notice how no one is really obese, some overweight of course, but not confined to motorized scooters because they’re too big to move. I know this is a combination of things but mostly it’s the food industry and the culture – that both positive and negatively impact individuals. We’re so sick here. It’s so avoidable.

My potential kitchen remodel and all the tiny little decisions that go into it. And the less than tiny amount of money that is attached to each choice. And how necessary every little piece is.

Receiving my new composter. So excited to have it, too tired to try to figure out how to put it together and start using it. But there are bags of vegetable bits waiting in my refrigerator from juicing that need a new home.

Wondering when it will rain again.

Writing about my twin gay great uncles. One was an opera singer who fled to New York and married three different women. His brother lingered a little longer in Pennsylvania before heading off to Europe to work for Fortuny, the fashion house itself, but not before being introduced (by his brother) to the completely out and daring world of circuit parties in NYC. “There were all these men, just men, it was amazing.”

Plus a million more thoughts about my cat and dogs, yoga teacher training, smart people, my mother’s car and all her stuff, acid reflux, lizards drinking water, recycling, stone pathways, gossip, birds…

When the all the thoughts are competing for space and jockeying for position the only thing I want to do, the only thing I can do, is sit and stare at nature. Just sit. And stare.

It’s a form of meditation that’s highly portable and super simple, and that’s what I need right now.

Cluttered Mind

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The whole idea of cleansing is a mental one. Amassing stuff, weight, debt – all stemming from the same root cause by the way – happens first in the  mind. We feel a sense of lack on some level so we eat, purchase, expend undue stress and energy.

Your mind created it. It can fix it.

If clarity is what you’re seeking a dedicated meditation practice is all you need. Really.

But if your mind is so occupied with thoughts about work, the kids, aging parents, cleaning, cooking, laundry, car trouble, illness, I forgot to exercise again, etc. how are you expected to quiet your mind enough to meditate?

If losing weight and getting healthier is your focus, simply changing how you eat, what you eat and moving more should take care of that.

But if you are stressed and your body is constantly “on” in flight or flight – and believe me it probably is – the weight will be stubborn. It’s quite comfortable right where it is. Giving up often seems like the only clear option.

If creating more physical space by decluttering and purging your stuff is your goal, that’s simple enough. Go through your things and get rid of whatever you no longer need or want.

But what if you uncover some attachments to weird things. An old handkerchief becomes a memory of a long passed grandmother, the broken chair was the one your dad always sat in. How are you going to release anything at that rate? And what if your partner, kids or other housemates just keep bringing more stuff home?

The reason behind the purge has to be solid; it has to be enough to keep you going. You know you will feel lighter and more open to possibility if you have less stuff, more time, and get healthy. That clear picture of the results – the space – has to become crystal clear to keep you moving forward.

Start slow but steady and determined. Habits will try to remind you how everything was just fine the way it was.

This is ultimately a mental cleanse; the clearing out of old habits and they will fight back.

I highly recommend meditation, yoga, walking, juicing. They’re all powerful tools for clarity.

We have 12 full months to turn this ship around. Just take one step today. Just agree with yourself that you are going to create space for clarity and magic then let the ‘hows’ unfold.

Still chomping to get started or whining a little?

If you did a little internal groan at meditation might I recommend Yoga Nidra? It is a meditation practice that is guided. You are laying down and simply listening. Doing this practice everyday or even twice a day for a month, or less, will change everything. Well, it will change your perspective of everything.

If yoga or walking prompted an eyeroll, just do some research on your local studios first, find a truly gentle class and start there. The big secret: Yoga is less about physical flexibility and strength (although that naturally comes) and more about mental flexibility and clarity. Or go for a walk. In regular old street clothes and some comfortable shoes. Take your phone – not to talk, try to be completely present to everything around you – to take photos of magic. You’re bound to see a beautiful flower, a bird, a sunrise. Capture it, it’ll get you back out there tomorrow.

fullsizerender-20If juicing sounds like yesterday’s hot thing or pure quackery, give it another chance. It takes a little more work. First you need a juicer and lots and lots of raw veggies and a few not too-sweet fruits. Or do you? There are some high quality cold pressed juices out there. I’m a big fan of Suja. I’m a bigger fan of juicing myself. Smoothies are great too, but with juicing you get a shot of nutrients right to the blood stream without the time it takes to digest the fiber of eating a whole bunch of kale or a carrot. If you don’t have a juicer, start with the store bought variety or make yourself a healthy smoothie in your blender. Just get some more high-quality raw veggies in that amazing body of yours.

“What about all my stuff?” you may be thinking. Take that one step at a time as well. We’ll be talking in great detail about physical objects and clutter. For now take a look around your home and determine where to start. For most it will be inside something. My own home neatly hides tons of mysterious secret stuff: drawers, closets, desks. Maybe start somewhere simple and mostly neglected. Or maybe you’ll choose to start with a category of things like clothes. There are as many techniques out there as there is stuff, we’ll go over a few that seem to be gaining some traction in the coming weeks. For now, just observe. Notice how things make you feel.

None of this has to be started today. Or ever. Remember your goal? Your reason? It’s yours, it’s personal. If any of these things can help you get on your way to more clarity give them a shot.

There will not be just one answer, one solution. It takes a village of ideas and practices working together – along with a support system – to feel safe enough to drill down and begin to create a shift.

With clarity comes enchantment, freedom and purpose.

Wait, purpose, what?