Why is it, that when we experience some kind of spiritual awakening, it is often accompanied by a desire to have less stuff? As we go through our lives we seem to accumulate endless amounts of baggage both literally and metaphorically. Our cupboards are jammed with old memories, bits of tat picked up at the seaside nestled against treasures elicited from mountain hideaways and old loves. And then there is the children's 'stuff', the partner or husbands 'stuff' and sometimes even the dogs 'stuff'!
So what is it that makes us want to clear out so much of this when we have some kind of spiritual release? Could this 'stuff' really be connected to the memories and attachments we hold in some way that we are only vaguely aware of, or are we just desiring a more minimalist clutter free life? More importantly, can we also do the reverse and de-clutter our life to cause an awakening by consciously letting go of those things that hold us back and keep us connected with our pasts?
Ted speaker, Graham Hill, a professional minimalist of 'treehugger.com and Lifedited.com suggests that 'editing' our lives will become an important twentyfirst century skill, and that 'having less' will open up space for more opportunities and time. But is minimalism the same as having a spiritual awakening?
Wakingtimes.com lists 51 signs of a spiritual awakening, with the desire to declutter suggesting an urge to disentangle ourselves from people or things which no longer feel right. This is echoed in an article in the Huffington Post by Bruce Davis phd, exploring life after a spiritual awakening, which suggests that it is the awakening itself which throws us and our lives into a "state of turmoil", causing us to seek out new people and experiences.
More traditionally, in Buddhism and Yoga having less is part of a general inclination towards renunciation, as a way to minimize the external distractions of life in order to pursue the more lofty aims of higher spiritual development and enlightenment. It goes hand in hand with a move away from the rampant materialism seen in our culture, to one that has space to be able to see past our ordinary conditioning in the hope that we might see what is not ordinarily seen.
The idea that our minds and bodies are intrinsically linked is no longer a surprise, but what about the interactions between our 'selves' and our environment. If ailments of the body can be cured by re-conditioning the mind and vice-versa, is it really such a great jump to suppose that ridding ourselves of old keepsakes will loosen the grip of the never ending attachment to that part of our lives.
It's an interesting experiment, seeing what we have chosen to keep from our school days and beyond. Why that teddy, or chair, or old t'shirt? What was it that wasn't finished so that we have had to keep lugging it around for years? Even when we pare right down, there are still a few mementoes that we cannot discard, tucked away in an old suitcase somewhere at the back of the closet. When we begin to view our lives more closely, we can start to see how our attachment to things runs far deeper than we first thought, and releasing this old karma, for want of a better word, suddenly releases the hold we have on maintaining its position in our lives. As we chip away at the places that keep us stuck, anti-materialism and anti-greed become a more sought after option, freeing us, and liberating both the space inside our homes and the space inside our heads and hearts.