Wellness in Simplicity
Published on April 5, 2009
“It seems that as humans, we are always in a rush to acquire “more.” For many people that is more everyday stuff. But spiritual seekers take craving in a different direction. We’re like spiritual Oliver Twists. We too are asking “Please sir, more?”
Don’t seek more in a broader sense. Strive for it in a narrower sense. Instead of trying to pick up all the stones you see and lugging them around with you, pick one up and keep polishing it until it shines with clarity and reflects perfectly.
Exclusive pursuit—pick one practice and perfect it.”
––the beautiful words of the Buddhist nun Venerable Wuling
About three years ago Hansel and I put almost every one of our belongings out on our front lawn for two days of a yard sale. We got rid of almost everything, and made a few thousand dollars. I sold an electric guitar that was with me since I was ten, a huge collection of vintage “oriental kitsch” that I adored, furniture from my childhood that I painted with hippie-like-flare, books and more books, and belongings I don’t even remember anymore. All the Art that meant so much to me, that I lived with for a decade, I found new loving homes for with friends. Everything else that we couldn’t sell, we donated to the local homeless shelter for them to do with what they wish. After our sale, we slept on the floor in our empty duplex, preparing to leave soon for our road-trip across the US of A. We wanted to have a simpler life. To live in the desert, with its simple landscape. To own very little, and to work only one job, and start from the ground up–with the idea of being simple.
I don’t miss any of those things I got rid of, except from time to time I will fruitlessly look for a certain book through my bookshelves and realize “oh, I must have gotten rid of that one” and I’ll feel like one does in remembering an old forgotten friend. But we had our pets, each other, a few boxes of books, some clothes, and of course our Art supplies and bikes–that’s what we felt were the bare necessities! Almost three years here in Phoenix, now, and we have a home full of stuff again, but nowhere near the crowded oasis we used to live in.
But lately, I am overwhelmed with this feeling to simplify. I keep revisiting our initial intentions for moving. I find myself being nostalgic about the grand statement we were making by displaying our belonging out on our lawn for everyone to rummage through. But this desire to simplify is deeper then being concerned about the things that I own, or even the things that I do. This yearning to simplify has gotten into my heart, and is starting to tinker with my mind. This idea to simplify my life-my soul’s journey on this planet–is what I realize my soul is actually trying to communicate.
Saturday I went to a fabulous three hour workshop about healing and detoxing through Yoga. We discussed everything from different techniques and Yoga practices one can use, to various asanas and how they create different forms of healing, to meditation and the Yoga form of visualization called Tattwa Shuddhi, to the powerful healing sparked through the words and sounds of chanting sanskrit. We even spent a long time discussing diet.
What it all comes down to is simplifying ones life. Or in other words: making space. That’s what Hansel and I were initially doing back there in Cleveland–we were making space for a new life. But, I think that in this journey, sometimes we are ready to purge and make space on a different level. Purge all those thoughts and stories in one’s head that aren’t working for you anymore. Purge all those negative comments you keep making to yourself. Purge all those old believes about who you are or what you are capable of. Even purge the thoughts of what you plan for the future.
When we free ourselves from these thoughts, we are left with space. With a new sense of lightness. May I even so boldly say–we acquire freedom.
When I was little, I loved to play outside. I hated the time of evening when I heard my mother yelling for my brother and I to come eat dinner. I used to reluctantly walk back home wishing my stomach came with a zipper–and all I had to do was unzip, throw the food in, and go back to playing soccer in the street! Wouldn’t it be great if our minds came with a zipper too…and all we had to do is unzip, reach in and grab those nasty little thoughts and stories and throw them in the dumpster–bury them in the ground–or cremate them during a full moon!!! How cool would that be!
But, what would our journey’s look like then? Those words and stories are residue from our perception of experiences we have had in life. That’s it–they’re residue. They’re not anything we should create into trophies or frame as certificates of a life certainly lived. No, no, no. They are weighing us down–crowding our life space. Stealing moments from us where we could really be living.
So what’s the answer?
I don’t know for sure, but I’m going on the guidance of sages and wise, enlightened ones that have come before us, and stating that the answer lies in the simplicity of life. Of finding that one rock, like Venerable Wuling says, and polishing it over and over. For me, I have come to understand that that one rock is Yoga. It is through my practice of Yoga that I can create more space. It is through Yoga, that I can start to unzip my mind and purge all those thoughts and stories that shackle my existence. But, like Venerable Wuling also says, we need to leave all those other rocks resting on the shore, and be attentive to the one we carry in our hand.
Below is one of my most absolute favorite videos of the Yogini Seane Corn practicing a sun salutation. I love to watch her feet softly transition from plank to upward dog. I love the beauty in the way her breath and action align perfectly together. I love the sense of focus and clarity that is made through each position of her muscles and bones. To me, this is prayer. To me this is meditation. To me, this simple act of Yoga–these simple movements, is what our life journey can feel like. But I know for certain that Seane did not come to this stage of her practice in only a couple times on the mat. This is years of polishing the stone.
(This is my reflection for Wellness Wednesday done on a Sunday!)
Please join Elana and others over at Lunar Musing, as we reflect on the ways we create wellness in our own lives, and thus spreading healing out into the world.
Peace & Love.