Travel More & HAVE LESS
Over the many years that I've been studying and practicing yoga, I've come to hold one tenet of Tantra Yoga very dear to my heart: live the present moment fully, with all the sensuous awareness you have. As you may or may not imagine, this is actually a very difficult task! First and foremost to reduce the distractions that keep you from paying attention to THIS moment but, secondly, being able to attune your senses so you CAN experience THIS moment on a visceral level. For years I have been diligently working, both on and off the mat, to reduce distractions and hone my senses...sometimes to the extent that I wonder if in this Tantric pursuit I've become a hedonist! (not such a bad thing in my book, but I digress...)
A few years back, when I transitioned into becoming a full-time yoga teacher, and making much less money as a result, two things became very clear to me: 1) I couldn't buy many frivolous things anymore and 2) When I had more money, I was buying lots of frivolous things! So much so, that four years and many rounds of reducing later, I'm only now getting rid of the last of it. It was this final letting go that inspired a tremendous amount of reflection, reevaluation, newfound-purpose and, ultimately, this blog post.
I've spent the last week donating, selling, recycling and generally getting rid of STUFF. I decided to get rid of this stuff because I have come to learn what a DISTRACTION our STUFF can be. When you have stuff, you worry about it: you worry about keeping it clean and in good condition, you worry that it might get stolen or worry it could get damaged, you worry about a place to put it and keeping it safe...and so on. Without even noticing, our stuff consumes us with distraction. And the more stuff we amass, stuff we really don't need, the more needless distraction we create for ourselves.
To my surprise, as I was letting go of this STUFF, stuff that I've had in my home for many years and have without my knowing become very attached to, anxiety and fear started to riddle my insides and even interrupt my sleep! I had underestimated the strength of attachment! As I was confronted by these emotions, I was reminded of what Pema Chodron has said, that "fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth." As I let go of my stuff, I learned that my attachment to these things were (very illogically) linked to my sense of survival. And though my mind couldn't make sense of a dining table being related to shelter and survival, my visceral self felt otherwise.
So, this sometimes hedonist grasped the lesson before her: to live by the Tantric tenet I've been working to uphold, not just in sunny weather, with great wine or beautiful conversation, but in the scary times too. I dove right into my fear, looked at the stuff I was really afraid to get rid of, gave THAT stuff away in all its painful glory and then chose to dive in EVEN DEEPER by giving away more! (whether this offends you or not, truth be told, the mantra I live by is "f#ck it, do it anyways!" so I did.) Oh how liberating it is to live fully and sensuously in ALL moments!! The fear and pain have, as a result, subsided and I'm on the other side feeling less distracted, more liberated and wiser about myself from having experienced FULLY my fears and attachments as I worked through them.
The 5 weeks I spent in Oaxaca over summer led me to this place of finally being able to let go of my STUFF. To me, travel is far from a frivolous expenditure. I leave the states and travel abroad because traveling is transformative to me. With the STUFF I've let go of, there were few to no memories that went with those items, but the places I go and visit create more memories than you could fill a house with. As I look ahead to 3 weeks in New Zealand this Fall and 5 weeks in India this Winter, I look forward to the meaningful experiences I'll have. And I know there will be greater meaning in what I experience because of the fewer distractions I'll be taking with me! Essentially, allowing me to better live the present moment more fully, with all the sensuous awareness I have.
Enjoy this video. I share it as it is in alignment with my true self and contributes to the lessons I learned above.