This past weekend, my family and I went camping for a couple of nights in the glorious Pecos wilderness of northern New Mexico. I will tell you right now, I am an avid camper. Our family tent is surely at the top of my “prized possessions” list. I love, LOVE a few days spent staring at trees, rather than screens.
But possibly my favorite part of all is the very small number of decisions I have to make once we’ve set up camp. Meals have already been planned, and we’ve packed the food we need for them. I have maybe three shirts to choose from. Entertainment? There’s hiking, or there’s a book. What time to go to bed? When it’s dark. Let me tell you, the spaciousness this creates in my mind is a rare and treasured thing! It’s like my inner decision-maker has settled into a weekend-long savasana. God, it’s great.
So I decided, after breaking camp and coming home, that I wanted my everyday life to be a lot more like it is when I’m camping. I remembered hearing about a website, theproject333.com, that issues an interesting challenge: choose just 33 items of clothing which you will wear for 3 months. Whatever else you have, you can box up for later—and of course, donate the things you realize you never use. (Thankfully, clothing that is used for specific physical activities—like yoga, for example—doesn’t count in the 33. Neither do pajamas. Phew.)
The sudden space in my closet and drawers is surprisingly exciting. I don’t have to think much about what I’m going to wear for the day, or where to find it. It feels like a relief. Which, actually, is exactly what my friends who study Ayurveda say this sort of simplification is. See, in Ayurveda, much emphasis is given to what’s called dinacharya—one’s daily routine. Depending on your commitment level, this can include a long list of esoteric practices (from saying a prayer before your feet touch the ground in the morning, to gargling with oil and putting oil on your skin and in your nose and in your ears, to meditating and doing asana, to drinking hot water with lemon and then, THEN eating breakfast) but it can also be sweetly simple—maybe just the oil on your skin, the hot water with lemon, call it good. The point isn’t about creating an ornate and religious set of requirements; the point is to do a few things in the same order, the same way, every day, so that the part of our minds that is charged with making decisions gets a rest, and we can just appreciate the process of waking up in the morning. That feeling of appreciation and simplicity—that’s what I want more of.
And look, if wearing the same five outfits all the time isn’t your jam—don’t worry. There are lots of ways to create some space for appreciation. An at-home yoga practice is a great way to do it. But listen, make it simple: choose five poses. Do them around the same time each day. Don’t let your decision-making mind get too involved—just create the routine and do it. The ten minutes it takes to do this practice will start to feel like a brain vacation. I will warn you: you may start to crave more, and when you do, add just couple more poses. Keep. It. Simple. This is how a lifetime practice is built.
As we head toward summer, I wish you the time and space to stare at tress and listen to your breath every once in a while. It’s amazing the great amount of joy that rushes into those moments, without us ever having to make a decision about it.
Much love and thanks for reading,
Erin H/Grassroots Yoga