As someone who has changed zip codes about every 12 months or so for the last four years, I understand moving and packing. Compared to many Americans, my husband and I are quite minimalist, but we could always have less. For several months while we waited for our boxes from our last move, we lived with a folding table, two camp chairs, two dinner plates, a coffeemaker, and an air mattress. The simplicity of it was exhilarating. Not to mention it was easy to clean with tons of space to practice yoga! When our things arrived, I wasn’t that excited, but I dutifully unpacked and found a home for everything. We held a successful garage sale and took several loads to the GoodWill, but we still had way more than we need. I didn’t know how to go about downsizing. Then I got inspired.
If you follow best-selling books, then you’ve read or at least heard of the KonMari Method. It is a way of decluttering your house and your life created by Marie Kondo and described in her book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying: A Simple, Effective Way To Banish Clutter Forever. I found this book magical. It gave me permission to get rid of stuff.
I quickly realized this book is essentially a user’s manual for practicing Aparigraha: non grasping, non-greed, and non-attachment. Aparigraha is one of the five Yamas which are ethical rules for living found in Hinduism and are also one of Patanajalis Eight Limbs Yoga. This yama refers to letting go of things that no longer serve you be it material items, emotions, or relationships. The hardest things for me to let go of are sentimental objects, which Kondo recommends saving for last in your decluttering process. It can be emotionally draining to go through old letters, photos, gifts, and notebooks. When I realized that the purpose of most of these items had already been fulfilled, I felt free to let them go. It made no sense to keep hauling boxes of old birthday cards across the world. I journal mostly during times of sadness or stress, so why would I want to relive those moments by reading it? The benefit of journaling came from the writing itself and the lessons I gained from the experience. I saved a few special cards and mementos which still “spark joy”, and I felt no guilt dropping a huge box of papers into the recycling bin.
As we prepare for our next move in September (a more permanent one this time), the urge to purge is in full force. It is a process, and there are still those moments of “we might use this one day…”, but I’m getting better. We are down to one car, I sold the piano, and last month I said good-bye to (almost) all my old Army uniforms.
Sure, there’s something to be said for posterity. But if material objects are keeping you in the past or draining energy from the space you live or work in, it’s time to reconsider their function. Are they serving you or are they obstacles in finding your true self? Only YOU know!