I finally went camping for the first time this year. One whole night spent in a 2-person backpacker’s tent, wearing a down coat inside my Patagonia sleeping bag, listening to the October wind tremor dry leaves. It was glorious. Couldn’t have been better. I love love love camping; I love the campfire and the oh-so-small feeling that overwhelms my soul when I’m contemplating the dark sky bursting with starlight. I love the packing, the food prep planning, the waking up in the morning with no alarm and no agenda.
One thing I don’t love about camping? The unpacking and putting away the car-load of stuff after driving home on only a few hours of (deflated-air-mattress) sleep.
Which makes me think: why the heck did we bring all this stuff? Did I really need my snuggie? (yes!) Did we really need the extra bowls and plates and cute little tin tea mugs? (maybe not!) Did I really need a stack of HGTV Magazines to look through? (absolutely not) Did I really need a set of clothes to change into the next day? (no way, camping is defined by wearing the same clothes two days in a row.)
When I unrolled my (very dirty) travel yoga mat on the grass next to the tent, I looked around and thought: well, this is all I really need. I did my morning yoga practice in the quietude of the Missouri woods wearing my coat and my hiking boots. I didn’t need a yoga block, a yoga towel, a yoga blanket, yoga strap, a yoga bolster or a pair of yoga toe socks, I just needed my mat and myself. It was simple. And it was glorious.
When you take your yoga with you– the yearning to unite with God in every breath and in every place– you don’t need much. Your list of what you need begins to shrink. Life gets pretty simple. In fact, as inspirational speaker Steve Maraboli writes: “You don’t grow spiritual, you shrink spiritual.”
I’m not engaging in an argumentative discourse about the legitimacy of yoga props while learning asanas. That’s an entirely different subject. What I am bringing to light is how little I really need to practice the creative expression of yoga through breath, movement, and surrender on the mat. I mean, come on: was I really going to practice my best arm balances wearing snowboarding pants and hiking boots? (I know it was only 50 degrees… but I like to be warm!) No, but my practice was enlightening, cathartic and devoted. I even lost track of time and nearly forgot to go watch my Ironman finish his trail race!
How can you simplify your life?
Right now, I’m committed to simplifying my life by letting go of perceived expectations and the need to please everyone else. I’m simplifying my life by letting go of the word ‘should’ and instead using ‘want.’ I’m simplifying my life by making choices with my work-life balance that benefit my family and my sense of Self. I’m simplifying my life by saying ‘no’ to opportunities, even if they sound appealing to my bank account. And I’m thinking about going camping more often.
Your meditation challenge:
Ask yourself, ‘What can I let go of? How can I simplify my life?’
After you get your answers, it may take time to implement them in your life. It may take years for you to actualize your own wisdom. But keep trying. Keep simplifying. Keep shrinking until the only things remaining in your life are goodness, love, compassion and joy.
Want ideas on how to simplify your life and reduce your detrimental environmental impact? Check out my Aparigraha Challenges.