The Symbolism of Baggage

Every couple of months I like to go through my stuff and get rid of it. Just as my yoga practice makes me feel cleansed, purified and detoxified – getting rid of stuff makes me feel light and free! Most of us admittedly have too much junk – clothes, shoes, knickknacks, magazines, books, sporting equipment …you know what I’m talking about! It’s amazing what we think we need and how fast it accumulates. Chris and I have done two big major purges in our life. Once, when we were leaving to hike the Appalachian Trail and another time when we traveled to Central & South America for a year. That second time around we even sold our house, gave a car to my Mom and ended up with just one car load of stuff to our name. Ever since then we’ve been very reluctant to buy new things. It makes us uneasy and almost gives us anxiety to have extra goods around. I’m certainly worse than Chris. If it weren’t for me I’m sure his apartment would look like some futuristic sterile bachelor pad. I have candles, stacks of paperwork, running shoes for every type of weather imaginable and not to mention the bikes…oh, the bikes, but that’s his doing too! We’ve got snowboarding gear, surf wear, camping gear, soccer & beach balls, backpacking gear. I’ve even got boots & poles to climb Kilimanjaro! I don’t know when I think I have all this free time for these exciting adventures, but by golly when I do, I”ll be ready!

Sometimes I think about nomadic hunter gatherer societies and how nice it must have been to only have what you could physically carry. Obviously times have changed drastically, but I do think the ownership of this stuff is a symbol of our existence. I associate physical baggage with mental baggage. The holding on to items whether it’s sentimental because someone special gave it to you or you’re saving it for that perfect occasion is a type of hoarding and could even be considered in the Eight Limb Path of Yoga Philosophy a type of Parigrah. To strive for the opposite – Aparigraha is to relieve yourself of attachment, possessiveness, greediness whether it be physical objects, wealth or even food.

I just spent a few days with my family in Texas cleaning out my grandmother’s house. She was recently put in assisted living and her house is what I like to call “The Landfill”. My grandparents must been the original environmentalists, saving every butter tub, gallon jug, pull tabs from sodas and every piece of mail that ever came to them. I must have thrown out at least 500 Christmas and birthday cards from year’s past. As I was cleaning stuff out I made a promise to myself to continue this act of purging at our apartment in New York. For one, we don’t have much space, but for another it keeps things fresh and simple, keeps me in check and just keeps it real.
In Yogic Philosophy you may call it Santosha – contentment. This contentment may be physical – content for what you have as opposed to being unhappy that you don’t have something or possibly a content state of mind. Chances are it’s both. Peace in the mind = physical peace.

Got Junk?

I recall an article I had written a couple of years ago for the Athleta Chi Blog – Tips for Keeping it Simple.
In it I suggest stop & think techniques for keeping your life simple and clutter free.

  • Need vs. Want – “Ask yourself Do I really need this?”
  • Out with the Old in with the New – If you decide to get something new, make a habit of getting rid of something old.
  • Travel Light – Carrying a small pack when you travel is not only easier to physically travel with, but easier on your neck and shoulders too!
  • From personal experience getting rid of things that bog you down is not only a physical relief, but a mental one as well. Try it!

    Juan Gamboa Handstand Splits

    “The desire or wanting of something is often greater than the actual acquisition of that same item.”

    Overheard on the street.

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