“One man gathers what another man spills.” – Grateful Dead (St. Stephen)
When I finally get around to clearing the clutter pile that’s been growing in the dining room for months, my breath deepens with the awareness that the space it reveals has been there the whole time!
Leaving a yoga class that ends with a satisfying Sivasana, I feel the same way; space that’s opened inside my body has been there the whole time! Thank the goddesses for yoga so I can clear my inner piles & blockages regularly!
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself procrastinating around the seasonal bins of clothing that require regular attention. Kids grow, seasons change and the clothing that has accumulated and gotten passed down from friends and siblings awaits the sorting and re-stowing. This year, I decided to do it a different way; instead of re-organizing the bins (which, let’s be honest, just become enablers for the clutter & dust of the unseen), I unpacked them and whatever could fit on the closet shelves stayed, the rest got handed down or given away.
The 20 hours’ worth of work for the three kids resulted in easier breathing and the realization that they now all had functional closets rather than storage spaces! (What 10, 8 or 6 year old needs a storage space?)
Of course, being a yoga practitioner, I immediately inhale the potent metaphor as it infuses a bigger truth on a multitude of levels. It also brings up questions, that like the bins, require cyclical examination.
Are we honoring our physical containers by organizing the things that nourish us and putting them in places that create space? Or are we just mobile storage spaces with things to do? What’s the difference? Do we hoard sentiment, memory and habitual behaviors like we do items in our lives we expect to use at a later time? By holding on, can we actually learn the lessons they were laid down to teach us so we can move on? Is it the item or its meaning which actually serves us? How can we make the space necessary for moving from understanding to knowing?
These questions may be used as objects for meditation and contemplation if their answers are not obvious or easily accessible. After all, the answers may lurk beneath a pile of trapped prana (inner breath/life-force). Yoga Asana is one way to move through the process of unblocking, softening and creating pathways for the prana to flow unobstructed.
There is a cause & effect experience that often happens during asana practice where, sometimes, profound discoveries and “aha” moments occur. Clearing clutter, physical, emotional, spiritual or habitual, reveals space where new experiences (and those discoveries) can arise.
When unpacking a suitcase after a long journey, there is often dirty laundry, mystery items that at the time may have seemed unforgettable, random pieces of trash, unidentifiable odors and gems collected along the way. So we unpack, do a load of laundry, sort the mysteries, pitch the trash, air out the bag and save the precious gems.
So it is with unpacking what we accumulate on this life journey. It takes effort, discernment & detachment to move through this process.
We can honor what we unpack, knowing it’s there for a reason. The quote above, “One man gathers what another man spills,” can be both literal and figurative. When we offer up our unused pranic energy, we can imagine taking it to a “Cosmic Dump” where it can transform into pranic mulch. What is nourished by that recycled energy may be just what another Being needs to move forward on her path.
This clarity could not have come at a better time.
I’m embarking on a 300 hour training next month and am tingling with anticipation. Typically, I approach trainings, workshops & classes with an unspoken (and often unconscious) intention of being filled up. For the better part of 14 years, regarding my yoga practice, I’ve been filling my vessel with information, experiences, expectations, memories, opinions, judgments, habits, hopes, dreams and fears. I am a nomadic Yogini – have mat, will travel! My heart overflows with love and respect for the path I’ve taken and the direction I’m going. After all, everything until now has brought me here.
What’s different for this next training adventure is my intention. I plan to unpack my inner suitcases and live fully in the space of not knowing, created by the act of emptying. If I continue to empty or fill my container, the poetry of each exchange will be dictated by the moment.
Like the bins, which I procrastinated unloading, this has been long coming. I smile when I think of the space that already exists beneath my pranic piles and the process that plucks them from their perches. Curiosity and Beginner’s Mind are amazing guides through empty space and they are awaiting my arrival.
I look forward to running, playing & singing in my empty, energetic, echo-filled pathways – and to later unpack the gems and recycle what no longer serves.
Here’s to nothing and all it implies!