I was born and raised in a Hindu ashram. Some of you may have seen a Hollywood ashram in the movie Eat, Pray, Love. In the book and movie the ashram was a place of sacred reflection and meditation. A place of hermitage and wisdom.
An ashram is all of these things but it is also a garden of color. Sand mandalas laid down by hand. Oranges and golden gifts left at the feet of Ganesha. It smells like basmati rice and chai spices.
Gurumayi told me stories of beauty and truth. My mama and I chanted Om Namaha Shivaya and clapped our hands in celebration and joy. I danced in my brightly colored dresses and marveled at this magical place with my mama, my sisters, and I.
The ashram was and is my favorite place on this earth. It’s where I learned that we are all one. We are all part of the same whole. My children’s books told me that the light that shines within my heart is the same as yours. I am here to love and care for others and this world we reside in, we are one.
I think that my values, my heart, this mindset led me to minimalism. How can I take and use more than my share? Then there will not be enough for everyone else. There must be a way to provide for all of us, not just me.
When I first began my minimalism journey the word “No” entered my vocabulary. Plastic bags? No, thank you. Extra stuff? No, thank you. Drinks on the weekend with people who drain my heart? No, thank you. I said no to a lot and at first it saved me.
It gave me my time back. It gave me my space back. I had hours to lay and read and sip my coffee, only getting up to play with Kiley for hours outside. At first “no” gave me my life back. It gave me the space and time I needed to heal and to grow.
No had become my mantra. I forgot how to say yes. I closed myself off for a year and I needed that time. I needed to heal from the busy life I once led, from my father’s death, from lots of things.
But now? I am healed. I am deliriously happy. I have made changes to my life that are habits and rituals that make my days so full of energy and love- I am ready to start saying yes again.
I recently finished Shonda Rhimes book Year of Yes. I avoided this book for a long time, despite its glowing reviews, because I was still learning to say “no”, how dare she say yes to everything!? We’re all trying to slow down Shonda! But eventually, when I was ready, I picked up her book at my local library and I devoured it.
I read it and soaked up every word. She speaks of saying yes to filling yourself up. To being with others. To spending more time with her children. To saying yes to saying no. If you are ready for this step please read it. If you aren’t a reader here is her Ted Talk.
There’s a Hindu proverb I have been thinking on and it is this: Help your brother’s boat across, and your own will reach the shore.
In all of my no, in all of my decluttering and letting go, I reached a point where I forgot to help my brother’s boat. I was too weary from carrying my own. I needed to heal from carrying by heavy boat but now that I have I feel strong enough to help others with their boat.
Giving ourselves (our energy, our time) can fill us up in the same way that saying no can. So, I have started saying yes to more. I say yes to spending perfect days with sister going on adventures. I said yes to moving to a new home, in a new town. I said yes to groups at work that I feel I can contribute positively to. These moments of yes have filled me up and they have allowed me to help others.
We are here to spread love. To be kind. Let the love and goodness you gain from simplifying exist somewhere outside of your body. Let it spill out of you and into your community, into your life.
Use your newly created space and time to say yes to something that moves you. It’s what helps us grow.
“Volunteer some hours. Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies toward making the world suck less every week.” Shonda Rhimes
Bonnie Rae xx