It seems like so many of us are on the journey of simplifying our lives - doing more of what we love and less of the unimportant, distracting activities.
We want to have the things that we love or need. We want to spend more time doing meaningful activities with our loved ones. We want to eat more of green, organic, nourishing foods. We want to go out in nature and do fun exercises.
We want real connection with the people in our lives. We want to live a life that means something, at least to us. We want to find who we truly are and experience joy and peace each day.
We want space in our lives.
Yet, what do we do?
We fill our homes with memorabilia that we don't even connect with, with more than enough books that we one day we will read, with things that are broken but we can't let go of. Then we feel overwhelmed walking around in our own home.
We fill up our days with work up to the neck with only time left to eat, sleep and get ready for the next day. We answer every email, can't delete the ones we have answered and spend every free minute checking for new mail. We watch shows upon shows on TV or surf the internet mindlessly. We want to exercise but find no energy or time to do so. We postpone calling our friends and have no time for fun activities with the near and dear ones. Our to-do list is bursting and we have expectations of ourselves that reach the sky.
And, we find ourselves filled with thoughts and feelings that speak of anxiety, worry, sadness, doubt and a dissatisfaction with our lives that is not a one-off but an everyday experience.
So, why is that, even when we know what is good for us, we default into all the ways to fill up our lives?
I have come to realize that it is because we are afraid.
We are afraid of the space behind things - of what we will find when the curtain is lifted.
The fear is what makes us cover up our lives in the first place. Part of it is because there is too much pain and suffering to face when we have not wrapped it up with layers of things, activities, bad habits and negative thoughts.
Part of it is because we are not even aware that there is another dimension of life where we can be free of that suffering. Or we may not even believe that such a life (free of suffering) is even possible for us.
And another part of it is that we are not sure what to do in all that space we will find once we do streamline our lives.
This has been my experience. For the last few years, I have had this uncanny but persistent, almost overpowering drive to simplify my life. I have let go, donated, sold or recycled of hundreds of books, clothes and things. I have almost emptied our home of furniture. I have undertaken and completed many unfinished tasks which were hanging around on my to-do list (like making a photobook of my childhood photos for my Mom, something she had really wanted and which I happily presented to her on her 60th birthday).
And now, my life is the most organized and simplified it has ever been. I make fewer promises so that I can help myself keep them. I very selectively engage in activities and travel.
I do less so that I can be more.
All of this has created enormous SPACE in my life, which I love and that space has allowed me to fulfill my most important priorities which in turn has created a lot of joy for me.
But, yes there is a but, I have also faced what so many of us fear we will find when we do streamline our lives.
When we are busy doing something, there is no time for them to come up, right? They are pushed back, shoved over into a deep dark place. We are so immersed and occupied with so much activity that we do not even know what kind of thoughts we actually have.
So, as space began to emerge in my life, I started to see and face my own thoughts and feelings. Eckhart Tolle says that when we let go of all that the ego is attached to, it starts to work overtime to rebuild what it thinks is its identity. The sense of "I" was diminishing just as the sense of "Self" was emerging in me. The negative thoughts come in as if to protect the ego, but we all know how destructive it is.
And this journey can be very challenging and so we hide our Self behind the curtain of external things and activities.
But what I am learning is that, it is not that scary, as we imagine it to be. Yes, the experience is uncomfortable and even draining, but by just looking at what is happening, I have been able to be at ease. I am still learning to be completely present with becoming aware of what is happening within. But already there is relief. I am noticing glimpses of what is beyond - a vast spaciousness that is light and joyful.
I am allowing myself the possibility that I can live without covering up my life with things and thoughts and go beyond the ego's backlash.
I know that the power of simply being aware and present with what is, is liberating to the spirit.
And each day, I enjoy a bit more the fruits of the space that I have in my life.
I wish for you tremendous joy and peace wherever you are on your journey of life. Thank you for reading.