I’ve continued to communicate with a friend of mine in the Chico California area just down the road from Paradise, where the Camp Fire started. She has been volunteering at the shelters as well as conversing with several people she knows who lost their homes in the fires. As devastating as these fires were, there also surfaced some positive experiences arising from the destruction.
My friend shared about a couple of people who actually felt uplifted by not having the burden of a home. Another person shared that the house that burned down represented an old relationship and the fact the house was no longer there freed her from the relationship on a deeper level.
I remember years ago reading about a spiritual teacher who had lost her home in a fire. She shared that she had been called to move closer to her children for years but had not listened to the calling. After the fire, she readily moved to be near her family.
I don’t believe we have to experience catastrophic loss to experience changes our souls are yearning for us to make. However, as in the cases above, life’s disasters can move us towards a direction our souls are encouraging us to follow.
I am particularly impressed by the freedom the people above expressed over not having the burden of material things weighing them down. I contemplate on the holiday season and the rush of shoppers to buy more goods and items that perhaps may only weigh down another person as well, rather than bring them joy. My mother has been paring down the material things in her life and I suspect she takes a deep breath sometimes and attempts to be gracious when other items fill up her space in the form of gifts.
There is something about an uncluttered space that gives the heart and mind a chance to breathe and relax a bit. And out of that breath creativity can arise as there is room for it to express itself. Another nurse that I know recently sold her house and almost everything she and husband owned and they moved onto a boat. She states she is happier than she has been in a long time. She even was able to pay off all of her debt.
I shared with her that my life is exactly the opposite of what she has created for herself. Don’t get me wrong, I love my home, my animals and my gardens. But there are times, I feel weighed down by how much I have to take care of. I’m not sure of what the answer is for myself at the moment but I am witnessing others as they simplify their lives. In the meantime, I stay grateful for the joy my home and animals bring to me and I look forward to my future garden blooming once again.
So why am I sharing this with all of you? It’s to encourage all of us, myself included, to meditate on the things that really bring us joy. To encourage all of us to think about the things that might be weighing us down and causing us to feel burdened, overwhelmed, or sad. Can we have the courage to let go of those things?
What might be weighing us down could even be thoughts that are taking up space in our heads. Perhaps there is self condemnation going on, fear of a health crisis, worry over a loved one, anxiety over the potential loss of a job. Thoughts carry weight and can be reflected by a heaviness in our bodies. This energetic heaviness can translate into physical or mental health illness, can create injuries, can slow us down and make us less reactive when we really want/need to react.
I believe the Christmas and the New Year can be a time to slow down, and reflect on what is weighing us down. What material thing be it physical, emotional or spiritual, is causing us to feel burdened and unhappy. Where can we lighten the load so to speak. This seems like a bit of an oxymoron given that this is the time of year where we give and receive material things that we may or may not need. It can also be a time of year when we feel disappointments, old heavy feelings from Christmas’s past, or just physically heavy from eating and drinking too much.
I encourage all of us to find the motivation to spend time in reflection on where we can lighten our loads or the loads of others to become healthier and happier. Maybe it is time to move our place of residence, get rid of old accumulated household items or clothes, change a relationship status, eliminate negative thoughts that are cluttering our hearts and minds. In my case, I am starting to get take care of paperwork that seems to pile up even as I sleep! I am also organizing my paperwork so that my frustration over the accumulated piles is not continuing to draw my attention and lower my energy. (Okay, this might take a while!)
I remember years ago, I was surprised that a spiritual teacher I was working with did not have any plants around her home. I guess I just assumed that a spiritual person would have plants around her. Not sure exactly where that thought came from, perhaps because I love plants myself. In any case, her answer to me still captures me to this day. She stated very clearly, “I never have more in my life than I can take care of”.
I think of my own life in contrast to my teacher above. I certainly did not seem to emulate that trait. However, I do know I am taking care of things well overall. However, the one area that has suffered in my life is the feeling of freedom to get away from home, to travel and to explore new places. I am looking forward to the freedom that will arise as I unburden myself from the piles of paperwork and things that are weighing me down.
So dear friends, I wish all of you the freedom that comes from letting go of objects in your life that do not serve you. This might be a person, place, thing or a thought process. Look at this item closely and ask yourself, “does this bring me joy or does it hold me captive to a listless life”? If it does not make you happy, perhaps it is time to let it go. I particularly wish this for those of you who are dealing with health issues, depression, or anxiety. Those things weigh heavy on our souls and take the joy out of living.
You might not be able to drop a health issue immediately, but you can let go of the thoughts about it that are holding you hostage and causing you despair. I know that sounds simplistic and maybe unreasonable given what you are dealing with. However, another teacher once told me, “there is always a way in or out of every situation. We just have to be creative and step outside of our old way of thinking and ancestral family patterns to find the answer”.
I wish all of you this Christmas and New Year, the joy that comes from the Lightness of Being. The freedom that comes from lightening your load, the peace that settles into your spirit as you unclutter your life of anything physical, emotional or spiritual that is weighing you down.