When you take the yoga path, it should be one of simplicity, spirituality, and humanity, right?
Well, mostly right. I do favor serenity and nature over shiny things. I prefer to donate rather than spend lavishly. I seek to connect rather than compare, to experience rather than accumulate, to enjoy instead of consume, to love people not possessions.
Spiritual Over Material
Spiritual trumps material most of the time (I have a soft spot for interior design but mostly just lust after things in magazines, sigh). I look inward to contemplate (and, sadly, still compare) more than I look outward to compete (“…but she has really nice shoes, and check out those yoga pants!”).
Yep, yoga pants don’t really count as things, let alone covetable things you find yourself ogling next to your own boring black ones. And shoes can form part of self-care—and self-care is still allowed in simple spiritual living.
So what does simple living mean when you still love (some) things?
1. Own things that mean something.
Be sentimental, heck, be schmaltzy. Hold on to old things, even ‘useless’ items if they really mean something to you. If your heart smiles when you look at something, and especially when just thinking about it, that’s more than enough—forget practicality.
If it reminds you of a special person or place,keep it. If you can taste the pizza you had in Naples, or hear a waltz on a Viennese breeze, do not throw these things out. If you can taste a stolen kiss or see a loved one framed in a stunning sunset vista, hold on to it tight.
2. Collections are OK.
They can get a bit obsessive, but collections, more than our random possessions, represent an extension of who we are. Multiple assortments of multiple things might be taking it too far, but a couple of favorite collections represent meaning multiplied.
And depending on your collection, it may also have real financial value—when you’d never consider selling, you know you’ve found ‘things’ that are truly worthwhile.
3. Sale items usually don’t count.
If price drove your purchase, chances are it’s something you should part with to simplify your life. Never-worn clothing items with price tags still on them are symbolic of materialism gone mad (and maybe your mood when you purchased).
It’s human nature to be rash around a sale sign, but be strong. The exception is for normally expensive items that mean a lot but that you’d never buy, but for the price reduction. Thank serendipity and appreciate these things even more.
4. Buy ethically.
Buy things that align with your values and support people you value (local traders, fair-trade social enterprises, up and coming artisans) and you’ll use your purchasing power for good.
5. Buy artisan rather than designer label.
This is intrinsically linked to buying ethically. Designer labels often say more about your insecurity and desire to compete than the value of your purchase. I know there’s a quality argument (often a dubious one) but buying status doesn’t go with simple living in my book.
Unique items made with love (rather than mass-produced using cheap labour with inflated profits going to multi-nationals) will always align with true yogic values.
6. Buy gifts.
Deciding you need fewer things doesn’t have to deny you the joy of searching for and finding that thing you love that will be ideal for someone else. That feeling of finding a perfect present can outweigh the joy of keeping it for yourself.
7. Meditate on it.
Meditation might be all about finding space for spiritual awakening, but if something you love is tempting you, chances are it will stay and play on your mind.
So meditate in a non-judgmental way, which is more than just weighing the pros and cons. Get clear on what you value and whether that thing will really enrich your life and the lives of others, and give yourself space before you buy.
8. You CAN have too many shoes.
If you’re female, you can have too many shoes. Fess up. Some ladies are really into bags too, but I’m no bag lady. A good rule of thumb might be—one pair for sports, two for casual, three for everyday comfort (including work) and two, ok maybe three, just because. Right, time to check my wardrobe!
9. Yoga pants do count.
Sure, you could consider yoga pants a uniform if you like, and if you do lots of yoga, you’re going to wear out your gear. But while yoga and fashion make big business together, I question whether they should be quite so close and cosy. There goes any big-brand sponsorship for me.
10. Be practical.
You’re still going to need everyday practical items, so recycling, upcycling, and sharing can really help you, and your friends and family, to live more simply. For example, if your friends would like an interesting article to read and get tips to live simply, why not share this one with them!
The best things in life really are free.