Check out my new article, “7 Things to Remember about Fear,” in The Edge Magazine in print and online:
About a year ago, I started my path to minimalism. One contributing factor to reducing my stuff is because of my work with the dying. I know what is important in life and what is not. I know that I cannot take anything with me after I die. One of my hospice patients said to me, “Start now.” If I have less stuff right now, the less stuff I will need to get rid of later in life. Also, I need to think about what I want to leave behind after I die. I don’t want my family to sort through tons of stuff.
What does minimalism look like to me? I have seen several YouTube vlogs about owning only 25 things. I am not that extreme. I don’t want a bare house, so I have furniture, clothes, and knick-knacks. I do not consider myself a minimalist yet. I am on a path to minimalism.
A dramatic reorganization of the home causes correspondingly dramatic changes in lifestyle and perspective. It is life transforming. – Marie Kondo
The most significant change in my environment is less clutter. It was a slow process that continues today. To de-clutter, you must get rid of stuff (donate, recycle, sell, or toss). Marie Kondo says in her book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, that “effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first.” My house is mostly clutter-free, and it feels great!
When I was in India in 2015, I visited the memorial museum of Gandhi, and I could see all of Gandhi’s belongs were encased in plexiglass. I could see he was a minimalist because he had so few things. His lifestyle is a reminder to only keep what we love and need.
Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard the rest. – Marie Kondo
Where do I want to go with my minimalism? I want to slowly have fewer possessions. It is easy to become attached to my belongings. Marie Kondo says, “But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” If I want to live in the present moment, I need to have possessions that serve me now.
I have one more hurdle. My husband does not embrace the minimalist movement. He has too much fishing stuff that clutters our basement, but if his stuff makes him happy, then so be it. Maybe my minimalism will rub off on him eventually.
Things I own do end up owning me. I have to clean, repair, and store all of my belongings. Having less stuff gives me more freedom. Soon I will be packing for my trip to Thailand, and everything that I need will be in a backpack. To travel light, we must live light.
By not being anchored down by worldly possessions, his mind was able to achieve true freedom. – Shoukei Matsumoto
Awareness of the divine begins with wonder. – Abraham Heschel
Two nights ago, I dreamt that I was walking through a forest full of golden leaves. I was light on my feet, and I was very happy. As I walked, I combed my long blonde hair. I felt my hair trail behind me as if it was floating in the air. I had gratitude in my heart, and I had a sense of comfort that I belonged in the Universe.
Prayer for Gratitude, by Don Miguel Ruiz
“Today, creator of the universe, my heart is filled with gratitude for the gift of life you have given me. Thank you for the opportunity to experience this beautiful body and this wonderful mind. Today, Lord, I want to express my gratitude for everything I have received from you.
I know the way to say thank you for life is by fully enjoying every moment of my life. And the only way to enjoy every moment is to love. Today, I will express my love and happiness that exist in my heart. I will love your creations, I will love myself, and I will love the people who live with me. I know that life is too short to waste in misery and drama with the people I love. I will enjoy the presence of the people I love, respecting their choices in life as I respect my own.
Today, I will graciously receive your gifts by enjoying your gifts, by enjoying the beauty of all your creation. Help me to be as generous as you are, to share what I have with generosity, just as you share your gifts so generously with me. Help me to become a master of gratitude, generosity, and love so I can enjoy all of your creations.
Today, Lord, help me to manifest my creation as you manifest the universe, to express the beauty of my spirit in the supreme art of the human; the art of dreaming my life. Today, Lord, I give you all of my gratitude and love because you have given me life. Amen.” – Don Miguel Ruiz, The Circle of Fire
“Mindfulness practice suggests that we give up on self-improvement and instead begin a course on self-acceptance. The way out of our unhappiness is not to fix ourselves.” – Henry Emmons, The Chemistry Of Joy
Do you accept yourself for who you are? Can you forgive yourself and move on? Do you love yourself and have self-compassion? Be aware of the burden of your thoughts. Do you suffer because you can’t let go of something?
Here is a cradling exercise, by Angeles Arrien, from the book, The Four-Fold Way. This cradling exercise is a four-fold practice of honoring who you are and remembering the interconnectedness that supports and binds all beings together.
Cradling Exercise: Lie down and place your right hand over your heart, and your left hand over your right hand. Then mindfully contemplate the following:
- Acknowledge your strengths and talents
- Acknowledge what character qualities you like about yourself
- Acknowledge the contributions that you have made and are making
- Acknowledge the love given and the love received
“That which you believe becomes your world.” Richard Matheson, What Dreams May Come
What is the quality of my thoughts? What am I clinging to in life? The world will throw many things at me, but can I keep my strength and composure? I believe no matter what circumstances I am in, I can be well and grounded. As my Buddhist teacher, Bhante Sathi, says to me, “Don’t lose yourself.” Sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Last week I saw the movie, What Dreams May Come, and I realized that I am clinging onto my life. When I die, can I let go of my life and move on? Can I pack my bags and leave everything behind? Can I live well and die well?
I have seen many people die well. A few days ago, I was with an elderly woman who was dying of pancreatic cancer. She had a sweet smile on her face. She looked so innocent, and she had a brightness about her even though she was dying.
I have seen hundreds of people go through the dying process, and every one of them looked innocent. They are preparing to let go of their current lives and embark on a new journey. It’s a natural process, and our body and spirit knows what to do.
My message to you – the reader: You were born innocent, and you will die innocent. Between birth and death is a story. It’s a very important story – your lived story. What you believe becomes your world.
When you help just one person, the goodness spreads. Know that when you give someone help and share cheerfulness, you are making a difference. There are stories online and on the news about random acts of kindness, changing someone’s life forever and then that good energy is spread.
No matter where you are on the Earth, you make a difference in the lives of the people and living creatures around you. You are influential! And you have a choice about how to share your light.
Your light needs to burn bright, so take care of yourself so you can take care of others. If your light is burning low, it’s a challenge to help others. Take time to rest, read, do yoga or exercise, take a walk, get a massage, meditate, take a bath, drink tea, etc. Do not feel guilty about taking time off work. If you need a day to rest, then rest.
Life is short, and at the end of your life, you will have happiness and contentment that you shared your light, you loved yourself, and you loved others.
“The rhythm of life has its up and downs. The answer isn’t to get out of the ocean, but to anchor deeply within.” – Sadhvi Bhagawati Saraswatiji
Waheguru has many meanings. It can refer to the almighty God or supreme soul. It is a mantra chanted in Kundalini yoga – that is used to elevate the spirit. Waheguru also means wondrous enlightener.
When I say, “Waheguru,” I acknowledge the eternal present moment. It’s not just the present moment, but the exact moment. After I am mindful of the moment, I say to myself, “Wow! I am still alive.” Living moment to moment has taught me to be where I am and appreciate my aliveness.
Challenges in life will enter into my present moment. But then when that moment or moments are gone, I can see that my life has changed again. I try not to carry on the burden of past moments, although they like to hang out in my mind. I realize that I am okay. I take full responsibility for my actions in life. I am not perfect – so I need to be a guru to myself to mindfully see that I can choose a path and go forward.
My Buddhist teacher, Bhante Sathi (www.triplegem.org), says that we need to be like the GPS app on our phone. We put in where we want to go and go forward. We do not go backward. We begin where we are and go towards our destination. The past is gone. Therefore, we need to start where we are.
All of your past experiences shaped who you are today. However, you are not those past experiences right now. You have changed and grown. You are a different person – just like how your body changes and your cells change.
Honor your authentic soul. Set boundaries, take care of yourself, and take care of others. I say to you, “WAHEGURU!” May you elevate your spirit, be wise, and rejoice in the present moment.