Returning home after an extended period of time away (particularly when travelling) always stirs up a number of emotions. Often when we return it's with a sense that we've evolved and changed so much, yet it can seem like everything has remained the same at home.
Finding our place again and not falling into old patterns can be one of the greatest challenges.
I came home after my recent trip really excited about what lies ahead knowing very well that I'm not the same person I was when I left. Amongst many things my outlook on life, approach to living, perspectives, and attitudes towards myself and others have significantly changed. I'm not so concerned about falling into old patterns this time around, my renewed sense of self feels like it's deeply woven into my being.
One thing that I couldn't shake this time around though was the frequent thoughts of all the 'stuff' that I have sitting in a friends garage. Just knowing it's there has been weighing me down. I'd managed to live out of a backpack for a year and was perfectly fine with the few things that I had.
I was struggling to see the point in keeping all this stuff.
This brings me to yoga philosophy and the Yamas and Niyamas. These can be considered as guidelines, ethical disciplines or perhaps restraints and observances. One of the Niyamas is 'Aparigraha', this guides us towards living with non-possessiveness, not hoarding things that we do not need.
Deborah Adele brilliantly explains 'Aparigraha' in the context of possessions in her book 'The Yamas and Niyamas'. She states:
"Anything we cling to creates a maintenance problem for us. The material items that we hoard, collect, buy because they are on sale or take because they are free, all take up space and demand our attention....clutter in our physical space blocks our ability to physically move, while clutter in our minds blocks our freedom to expand and have space for the next thing that life wants to bring us".
It's interesting to look back and reflect.....before I moved my things into storage I went through a process of significantly minimising my possessions. I got rid of 3 bikes, 2 kayaks, and 10+ pairs of shoes along with a whole bunch of other stuff that I felt I no longer needed - I was rather proud of myself for doing that, at the time it seemed like a big deal. Yet here I am again with exactly the same stuff seeing that so many more things need to go.
I'm now ready to let go of the couch, television, DVD's, lots of clothing, kitchen goods etc as I can clearly see that they don't add any value or enhance the quality of my life - they are simply cluttering my physical space and my mind.
Clearing the clutter is a really challenging process, so many items that we posses have memories attached to them. Sometimes it can be hard to disassociate the item and the memory, we fear losing the memories when the item moves on. I had this feeling as I went through my last yoga practice on the mat that I'd carried around for my entire trip and used almost daily for 11 months. While it was just a yoga mat, it had been the place of so much transformation and growth, I had so many memories attached to that mat. I decided not to bring it home with me so I honoured the tears that flowed as I said goodbye, took a photo of it, and left it in Bali for somebody else to enjoy. The memories remain and if I need reminding in the future I can take a glance at the photo I took which clearly shows the hours of work put in on that mat. Perhaps one tool here is to take a photo before getting rid of something as an insurance policy for your memories.
It's also difficult to let go of thoughts like 'what if I need to buy all of these things again in the future, what a waste of money it would be starting again, how would I even be able to afford to do it all again'. But this is where we need to be truly honest with ourselves, we have no idea what the future holds, everything changes - only that fact is guaranteed. There is no point holding onto things just in case we might need them again one day - especially if we can't see that one day appearing in the next 2 years.
The challenge that I'm putting to myself as I move into a new home is to be brutally honest about what things I need and what adds real value to my life. I'm tired of feeling weighed down by all this stuff, it's time to get the clutter monkey off my back and clear some space for all the wonderful things that are coming.
Mandy Habener (Dumas)