Art, yoga and cleaning out my house

Artist: Ricci Albenda, you're greedy, and you're selfish, 2008, acrylic on canvas panel, The Rachofsky Collection

My definition of art has evolved.

In the not-so-distant past, my limited definition would have included that art is another way to communicate, like a foreign language. It is a way of expressing thoughts and ideas, opinions and emotions, in the form of a painting, a song, a poem or a made object. Words and objects from past civilizations inform us about lifestyles and customs during specific times in history. Greek pottery is a perfect example. Although made for utilitarian purposes, picture-stories were painted across a vase much like picture-stories are splashed across the front of celebrity magazines. Many of the Greek stories were equally as scandalous, I might add!

But more recently I see the “whole of life” as art. Rather than solely producing an art object, I see the culmination of choices we make over the journey of a lifetime as art. It’s about the relationships we make and what we choose to give our life to. The medium for this kind of art is the passion itself. This is conceptual art in its truest sense. Because I have a passion for it, it is art. The world has become my studio for experimentation and my experiences with people are the product. Because my definition of art is expanding in this way, it is getting harder for me to continue to make “things”; harder still to continue to store things after they’re made. Currently I have a small studio in my home filled with a wide assortment of art materials and a garage full of objects and paintings I’ve created, that didn’t sell. The monthly mortgage I pay to store all these things has begun to seem ridiculous. With the money that I currently use to store my objects, I’d rather live with less and travel more.

I’ve learned by participating in yoga at Gaia Yoga, that aparigraha is the Sanksrit word for greedlessness. It means taking what is truly necessary and no more. The word parigraha, its opposite, means reaching out for something and claiming it for oneself. From within this concept of non-possessiveness I understand it to mean limiting my possessions to what is necessary or important. The consuming of materials and the continuing of making objects is becoming less and less important to me and I find that I’m becoming more willing to let things go. For those of you who know me, I’m hosting a HUGE Garage Sale on June 15 and 16. Mark your calendars!

There are some informative and inspirational blogs/people “out there” giving advice on how to minimize (most) Americans, seemingly inbred, trait to be consumers of all things. For example Dave Bruno’s book and blog The 100 Things Challenge  will summons you to reconsider the American dream, and instead live a life of simplicity. He asks us to consider creating a more valuable life instead of wasting both time and money on the accumulation of more things.

In his book, Simplify, and on his blog Becoming Minimalist, Joshua Becker gives his readers a list of the benefits of minimalism.  He also gives pointers on how to live with less.  For starters, go to his links on how to live with less junk mail. Becker’s blog is full of invaluable information on breaking the habit of consumerism. His tagline reads, “ Becoming Minimalist: Cause the best things in life aren’t things.” Amen, Brother Joshua!

In closing, please get a laugh and watch George Carlin’s 1986 classic standup routine about the importance of “stuff”. Let me know about your collection of stuff and what you plan to do with it.

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16 thoughts on “Art, yoga and cleaning out my house

  1. […] In my own life I’m starting to gather a collection of these kinds of stories. There are not many people I know in Dallas, Texas who are trying to get rid of their “stuff”. Consumerism is at an all time high in this city, evidenced through church buildings, homes, shopping malls and automobiles. In fact, I’m not exempt from this tendency but am working hard to change my ways. […]

  2. […] American! I often feel like a foreigner in my own country. I long to live a slower, more observant, less cluttered lifestyle. Every minute of every day is a “once in a lifetime” possibility. The next time I ask myself, […]

  3. Christine Haberkorn says:

    I have moved internationally and domestically over the years, and with each successive move I always wrestled with what do I need and what is precious to me. As a result, I have significantly downsized my possessions in relation to a new abode or the cost of moving “stuff.” About 90% of my possessions currently reside in a Colorado Springs 10 x 10 storage unit as I made my way up the Pacific coast in search of a job over the last 16 months. I find that there are plenty of rooms for rent in houses owned by lovely people. My mobile possessions and clothing neatly fit in my car and I realize that I do not miss my “stuff” in Colorado. There are a few furniture pieces that remain, enough for a one bedroom apartment, there are boxes filled with favorite kitchen items, and 36 boxes filled with memories, artwork, books that remain special in my heart. The latter is mostly objects that I wish to pass on to my children and grandchildren. Through this job search journey, I have learned strategic lessons in want, need, and economics. I accumulate less, give away more, and I am liberated from over consumption. This realization adds to my sense of physical and emotional wellbeing, and I am able to shift my focus towards less rather than more. Thanks, Anita, for letting me borrow your space for this reflection.

    • Dear Chris,
      Thank you for your beautiful thoughts. Thank you for your time of sharing. You are an inspiration to me. 10 x 10. That is my goal, or less, if possible. Isn’t it funny that you don’t miss any of your stuff in the storage unit? I’m sure there are countless stories, from owners of storage units, of people who never come back after their stuff. Whatever I can get into Sophia’s hands, I will. The rest will be sold or put in storage. Do you know much about PODS?

  4. Merry says:

    Yes the older I get the less “stuff” I need. Surrounded by my many material things, they give me recollection of my past. My wonderful past, a beautiful pearl necklace my husband purchased for me on Valentines Day, 1999. A hand carved wooden cross my only child, my son, made with his own hands, given to me on a beautiful Easter day. The dried flowers pressed in a book, the flowers from my mother’s memorial service, the book from my mother, with loving words inscripted to last me for all the days I have yet to live. Yes my stuff is overwhelming, and I am cleaning things out as I get older, but some things, and many they are, bring me sheer joy, remind me of those who are no longer here,and are a remembrance of my wonderful life. All will be with me to the end. And in the end, just I have with my parents, and my parents did with their parents, my son will come home to pass on my stuff however he chooses, for I will be in a place one day, where no stuff will be necessary.

    • Dear Merry,
      Thank you for your comments. Your thoughts are beautiful. Aren’t we fortunate to have beautiful remembrances of a wonderful life? I’m so grateful. But for me, I’m ready to let go of most of it; pass it on to others who want/need it. I only want my daughter with me till the end. The stuff can go. xo

  5. Claudia Boysen says:

    To unclutter, wouldn’t that be nice. To simplify to order – bliss! I am facing the challenge to reduce my stuff by a third, because we are moving into a smaller place. This is a struggle. Recently the father of a childhood friend died. He was my Latin teacher. I helped my friend to clean out his house. In the last decades of his life he lived alone in the large family home, which was full of stuff, books, pictures, teddy bears, trinkets, gifts from journeys, pictures of old friends, letters, name it. My friend told me, that she asked her father, when he was still alive and just started to suffer from dementia, why he never threw anything away. He said: every thing around me, is a path to a memory that would otherwise be lost for me.
    I decided to use this as a guiding thought through the necessary process of cleaning out.
    Thank you so much, for your article, Anita. I personally think, that this is art: the process of noticing new realms of experience to become fully human and challenge this in others.
    Love Claudia

    • Dear Claudia,
      Again, thank you for reading and commenting. I appreciate your thoughts so much.
      Bliss is correct and a sweet opportunity awaits you as you pack up to move to your new home! I’m making my way through closets and I find that once I’ve taken my belonging out to the garage, a sense of freedom overcomes me. It is like there’s a big magnet inside my closets and cupboards keeping my possessions there! That is a lovely thought from your Latin teacher. I love that. Thank goodness for digital cameras, computers and hard drives. Some of what I’m getting rid of I’m going to photograph. I love your added on definition of art. We’re soul sisters! Keep on packing! xo

  6. Lena Hobbs says:

    Anita, I am just beginning to let go and have a long way to go. Late start and background prevents going overboard. This accounts for your free spirit. I do enjoy your blog and getting to know you on a different level. Mom

  7. I truly desire aparigraha.

  8. http://keranews.org/post/commentary-simple-gifts
    good thoughts anita. You might enjoy this commentary I did a few years back.

    • Bill, this is a fantastic commentary! I love the Chesterton quote and am going to print it out really large and hang in my home as a reminder! I’m saving this for another one of my links one of these days!!! Thank you so much! Keep up the good work that you do, friend. 🙂

  9. Theadora says:

    Beautiful post! I agree with you. Life is on-going creation. It’s all about the process! Enjoy the week! Theadora

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