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Becoming a Minimalist - Testing Aparigraha

February 27, 2018

At the beginning of this year I decided it was time to downsize and get rid of a lot of the stuff accumulating in my house. There was just something about it all that was stressing me out, making me feel stuck. There are so many things that I own that I do not really need or use. So I decided that this was going to be the year to Minimalize.


Many of the things I wanted to get rid if were collected as souvenirs from previous

travel. I have so many fond memories attached to these objects, that it made it so hard to let go of them.  So I decided that on this trip,  an ounce prevention would be worth a pound of cure. I decided that I would not purchase anything that I did not need. I also decided to practice what I was preaching by minimizing my baggage. Not quite down to my backpacking days, but one carry-on and a carry-on size checked in is pretty good for a month!

 Minimalizing is a natural step on the path of yoga. Yoga, as described by the sage Patanjali, is the path to Citta Vritti Nirodha – to cease the activities of the mind. Then – Tada Drastic Svarupe Vasthanam - the seer dwells in their own true nature. The process of yoga has 8 steps or limbs – known as Astanga yoga (not to be confused with the style of yoga made popular by Sri Patabhi Jois). These eight limbs begin with the practice of the Yamas and Niyamas – the observances - things that we as individuals should practice. Within the Yamas, there is a concept of Aparigraha which means not taking more than what you need, not having more than what you need.  The essence of the term is that the mind cannot be clear if it is surrounded by clutter. It makes complete sense, and reviewing this concept was a good reminder of why I was experiencing stress around my stuff. 


Then I was invited to go to a market. I did not want to go, as I have been to many

markets in India and have bought many things, which as I have mentioned above, I am now trying to get rid of. Fortunately, I did go. It was a nice market full of fair trade local artisans, co-operative raising money to go back into social programs. It was also one of the highest quality crafts markets I have been to in all my visits to India. I certainly was tested. 







 I must admit that I did buy a few things. A few hand made toys for children, some original art from the artist for my walls, and some copper cups. I loved the items and know that I supported good people with good causes. I know the money earned will be going to back into community organizations and is environmentally sustainable.  Is that not how the economy is supposed to work? Is that not what we should choose to spend our money on instead of the mass produced eye candy we accidentally found on Amazon and convinced ourselves we needed, only to get bored with it after we get over the rush of taking it out of the box? 


Conscious shopping. Conscious purchases - instead of acting on misperceived need and greed. 


BTW - I did take many pictures of the beautiful wares - just so you can understand the amount of effort it took to restrain myself! Do plan to visit India one day – then you can buy a few for yourself! In the meantime, I urge you to support your local artisans, craftsman, and shops. They brighten our communities!







 I think I deserve a medal for restraint! Ha! That's my tapas...


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