by Laura McCorry
I’m still rather new to minimalism. I love the concept – a clutter-free home that invites both unexpected guests and private relaxation. But the practice of de-owning often feels overwhelming and exhausting.
In July, I was invited to participate in a 30-day declutter group hosted online. It was great to have the support of other people in the group and to have a pre-set monthly schedule of different areas of the house to tackle each day. It usually didn’t take me more than ten or fifteen minutes, and every day I found items I could place in a large cardboard box marked for donation.
Then the cardboard box sat in a corner of my bedroom for three months. Does this sound familiar? Sometimes the follow-through is the hardest part. But just last week – last week! – I made a trip to a household hazardous waste site (don’t throw your batteries in the trash, people!), electronics recycling, and a local charity that accepts household and clothing donations. It only took about an hour.
When it doesn’t take very much time, why is it still so hard to let go?
So often in life, I find myself clinging and grasping. I keep letters from loved ones, gifts that remind me of people, books that remind me of people. I try to hold on to the idea and experience of my toddler as an infant, and I feel a kind of desperation every time I realize another day has finished, never to return.
One of the eight limbs of Yoga is Aparigraha, which translates as non-greed, non-attachment, non-grasping. Fear teaches us to cling tight, even to things which can’t be held. When we let go, maybe prying open one finger at a time, we find Trust, Plenitude, Equanimity. (These words that don’t have an everyday coinage because they’re so frequently out of circulation.)
To what (or to whom) do you find yourself clinging most often? Is there physical or emotional baggage holding you back from feeling a sense of peace with the present moment?
Yoga’s emphasis on the present moment actually helps me to be a better minimalist. When I shift my focus to what actually matters, right this very moment, it’s easier to see how so many objects in my life belong to the past or to an as-yet-unrealized future. As Autumn’s full glory approaches, I intend to simplify my home and my routines, letting go of excess to better appreciate the things, people, and routines that serve me best right now.
Thoreau himself embraced yogic values with his injunction to “simplify, simplify.” Let go of grasping and see what fills your hands and your heart.
Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.