The activity of simplifying is a necessary process of transformation. Creating a functional space in which to live, by minimizing our possessions, helps us to become more aware of what we surround ourselves with. Simplifying brings us more in touch with what is important to us, and what we value most.
The process of cleaning up and clearing out our physical environment creates the energetic movement and spaciousness we need to begin the process of self-reflection, a form of internal clearing. Through self-reflection, we look at our lives more deeply to explore how we want to live each day, and to decide how we want to participate in the world.
If we go back in time to indigenous culture, we remember that we needed very little to live. We had simple shelter, clothing and blankets to keep us warm, functional tools for gathering and hunting, utensils for eating and preparing food, and objects we used to protect ourselves.
If you look at the way we live now, you will find we live in houses larger than we need, and surround ourselves with hundreds of objects – many without a purpose.
In the practice of advanced simplicity, we begin to understand why we surround ourselves with possessions. Why are these objects important to us? How do they make us feel? What do we remember when we look at them? What purpose do they serve?
Often the objects that surround us provide us with something:
A function- they serve a purpose in our daily lives
A feeling- we feel good when we look at them
A memory- we remember an experience or a person
A symbol- of peace, beauty, happiness or spirit
A gift- we feel acknowledged and valued for who we are
And sometimes our homes become a showpiece of our financial success. We fill up our homes with items to claim an identity, to appear a certain way to others. Often this behavior is a result of cultural conditioning – we obtain the items we feel we need to be socially accepted and to fit in with our peers.
As we advance in our practice of simplicity, we expand our vision to consider not only our personal needs, and the needs of our family, but also the needs of our community, our country, and possibly even the world. We question what we are contributing to. Are we contributing to health and well-being, natural balance, equality, and sustainability?
Beyond our personal needs, we consider how we can support the farmers and small businesses in our community. Can we support the local food coop, farmers market, and downtown businesses instead of shopping at Walmart, Costco or other large chains? Can we support the local artists who create handmade items for our personal use, instead of buying items that are mass produced and imported from another country?
This new practice may cost more, but our decision to financially support our community becomes more important than the additional money we might spend.
Before we buy something, we consider where was this item shipped from, what distribution activities were involved, what labor practices were followed, how sustainable is this product? Was it made in consideration of the future health of the earth?
We stop buying items we don’t really need because we no longer want to be a contributor to the toxic waste buildup so negatively impacting the earth today.
With greater awareness our desire to minimize our footprint on the earth grows. What do we take? What do we use? What will we leave behind for future generations? How can we best care for humanity and the earth while we are alive?
We not only realize how little we need to live, we realize how our choices and actions can contribute to beneficial change.