We all have stuff — and a lot of it! Do we really need all we have? Similarly, do we really need to be doing all we do? Could we not do, and have, and possibly find more joy with, less?
Most of us are plagued with a deep, pesky thought of “not enough”. We want more stuff to try to fill an inner void we cannot place or satisfy. We try to do more to impress others, unconsciously still seeking approval from our parents, teachers, or caregivers, afraid that we will not be loved.
Mildred Norman was an American pacifist, vegetarian and peace activist. Born on a farm in New Jersey, she felt an inner call in her midlife to simply walk for peace and listen to God. In 1953 she adopted the name “Peace Pilgrim” and walked across the United States for 28 years. Her only possessions were the clothes on her back and the few items she carried in the pockets of her blue tunic which read “Peace Pilgrim” on the front and “25,000 Miles on foot for peace” on the back. She was backed by no organization, carried no money, and never asked for food or shelter. She vowed to “remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.”
I love her inspirational teachings. She offers much insight on how to live with complete integrity, true simplicity and utter faith. In one of her few printed texts, she says, “Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.”
Peace Pilgrim goes on to say, “The simplification of life is one of the steps to inner peace. A persistent simplification will create an inner and outer well-being that places harmony in one’s life.”
Why not slow down? We rush ahead to conquer tasks, missing the sweetness of this moment. This moment comes only once in all of eternity and then it is gone, never again to be. In our attachment to the past and future, we miss the fullness of what is now. When we slow down, we see that we have been missing the divine in what is, and what is, is a reflection of our true nature.
We need to question if all that we have stacked on our to-do list is really what we need to be doing. Often that which we feel we need to do masks what we are truly called to do. We can hide in business and never slow down enough to find out what makes us tick, what brings us joy and who we truly are. Being busy helps us avoid our fear of not feeling we are enough.
So when is enough enough? Go through your to-do list and make sure that what is on your list is truly essential. Ask yourself, “If today were my last day, what would I feel the need to do?” Do you have a bucket list? If not, start one and begin integrating the things on that list into your life.
Of course, we all have bills to pay. We must care for our necessities. But if we get mired in these and mistake them for what is most important, we lose the fragrance of life. If we saw a flower only for its stem and petals, we would miss the best part, the sweetness of its perfume.
Choose actions that build a balanced life between necessary tasks, like paying your taxes, and living, like smelling the flowers and fulfilling your bucket list. If your life is all about the taxes, you will feel taxed. If you are all about fragrance, you will lose your ground. Find balanced wholeness and approach each task with equal importance, seeing it as a reflection of the divine. Ideally, the necessary tasks will begin to feel just as much of a joy as smelling the flowers.
Parvati Devi is the editor-in-chief of Parvati Magazine. In addition to being an internationally acclaimed Canadian singer, songwriter, producer and performer, she is a yoga teacher and holistic educator, having studied yoga and meditation since 1987, and developed her own yoga teaching style called YEM™: Yoga as Energy Medicine. Her current show, “Natamba”, brings forward a conscious energy into the pop mainstream.