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Making Everything You Own Sacred

IMG_0691I am a minimalist because I LOVE stuff. This is the clash I seem to have with the minimalists I read about who don’t care about stuff. However after 5 years of reducing I’ve finally understood WHY I’m a minimalist who loves stuff, and what it is I’ve been trying to achieve.

My aim is to only own and use things packed with dense positive energy. In other words – I want all my possessions to be sacred objects

Those of you who don’t like the word energy might turn off at this point, but hear me out. If you don’t like that word, try sentimental value, or Marie Kondo’s “Spark joy” concept*. When I use and wear things on a daily basis which have this quality, I literally feel like they are transmitting healing me.

Sound crazy? Let me explain more.

I generally experience the following to have high positive energy:

  • Something I’ve had for a long time
  • Something a friend has given to me or made for me, or made by me
  • Something old that’s been used and loved by many people
  • Something made from natural materials (which I believe take energy well), such as wood, wool, cotton, metal.
  • Found objects.

I generally experience these things have low/neutral energy:

  • Something mass produced (in other words, something made without love, and likely during the trauma of poor working conditions)
  • Something brand new (in other words, something that’s never been loved)
  • Something made from plastic/synthetic materials.
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Making my watch strap took 1hr and produced a much warmer result than buying factory-made.

Even if you’re not familiar with the concept of energy, can you relate this to your own life? Look around your home. Do you have more positive thoughts and feelings about by a handmade gift from a friend than you do for, say, an empty juice bottle? If nothing else, the gift at least holds warm associations. To be surrounded by these things is to be surrounded by our warmest memories, thoughts and feelings. Everyone has a “special” or “favourite” something. What if everything you owned had that quality to it?

 

If you habitually experience energy, these ideas might immediately resonate with you. Or if you’re simply curious, try picking up a pebble and carrying it in your pocket all week. Each night, take it out and hold it in your hand as you think of a happy memory from your day. At the end of the week, can you perceive a denser positive energy in that stone?

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I use this knife for all cooking even if it’s ‘the wrong tool for the job’, such as for grating cheese or cutting bread. I’d rather give my knife more use and therefore more energy.

My perception is that natural materials take on energy better, but even something synthetic, with the right intention can become a “healing” possession or sacred object. For example, I have one gaudy polyester shirt which I bought 2nd hand as a joke. Strangely it suited me, and I ended up wearing it at my wedding, so now it’s one of my most energised possessions.

For me, one of the biggest things that gets energy into an object is use. To use stuff more often I have to have less of it – the result is minimalism. This is why I only cook and eat with one knife, and have done for 5 years.

Up until very recently I was doing this instinctively without understanding it. I’d upgrade something, like my rucksack, only to find myself taking the upgrade back to the shop and keeping the old one. I’d shy away from high tech traveller’s clothes, even if they’d make life easier, and stick to bulky cotton.

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My rucksack, originally bought by my mother for our only walking holiday when I was 7. The trip was formative for me, so I wanted to use the bag as an adult, but also strangely wanted rid of it. Finally I remembered that my mother hated the trip herself! Once I addressed the imprint her experience still had on the rucksack, I stopped wanting to replace it and started using it.

Since I’ve fully understood that I’m creating a healing energy environment through “stuff”, I’ve changed tack and gone for it completely. I’ve got rid of stuff that I actually was using, because it wasn’t (and couldn’t be made) energy dense. Once rid of it, I could feel that even the energy between my possessions flowed much better. I’d no longer consider giving away highly charged items just because they are bulky (like hand knitted jumpers) but am cutting down on electronics.

If I need to acquire something I’ll make sure it’s energy dense, by perhaps making it from found materials, or asking a friend to do it with me, or buying 2nd hand. If I have to buy something new, I might decorate it. I’ll also look out for long lasting things, giving me years to put energy into them.

The result is amazing! I feel totally aligned and am truly supported by my possessions. This is not about loving stuff more than people. My stuff keep itself in check now, and I have more time for the people in my life.

 

*A note on Marie Kondo: When I first read about Marie Kondo’s “Spark Joy” concept I was thrilled. With slightly different framing our ideas were similar, and she even writes about imbuing everyday boring functional objects with positive energy by complimenting them. What I’d add to it is that some possessions do not “spark joy” or are not positively charged objects because they either will not take energy or they have negative energy in them which needs addressing (cleansing). For example, if a loved one had a traumatic experience whilst wearing a piece of jewellery, then gave it to you, you may feel a heaviness, sadness or tiredness when touching it. However, the heaviness can be freed from the object, leaving only the warm intentions and generosity of your friend. Someone attuned will be able to tell if an object does not spark-joy because it needs discarding or because it needs attention.

Also, whilst Marie Kondo relates that most people naturally end up with less stuff after her process, I would argue that in the case of making objects sacred, it’s vital to have few possessions and the fewer the better. As long as the functionality of your life is not compromised, interacting with a smaller number of objects more often ups the energy in each one.

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Confessions Of A Minimalist – Getting Rid Of Stuff Hurts!

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Powder pack – check! Carpet bag – check! Talking umbrella – check! All set!

You may be surprised to know that although I’ve been a minimalist for most of my life, I do find it really hard to get rid of stuff. Putting my sketches from school and uni in the recycle bin this morning was a real wrench (even though I’ve scanned them). Giving away books I can’t get digitally and would prefer to read again is tough too. It’s also a real pain having the feeling of wanting to play an instrument that I’m not travelling with, or don’t own anymore.

So why do it? Well, I’ve always said I prefer real books to e-books, but I prefer e-books to a mortgage. Many people say that they couldn’t do what I’m doing because they have too much stuff. Less stuff = more freedom.

Initially when I moved out of my yurt in 2013 I had no idea that I’d still be without a permanent dwelling 3.5 years later. I was not prepared for the transition. I had too much stuff, and no real way of dealing with it. It was a kicker taking furniture I’d hand made to the dump to be smashed up. 

Recently I’ve been brainstorming places to travel to after France, and some of them can only be reached van-free. I’d like to be prepared this time.

If I can make my life work on a day to day basis with what can be taken on a plane, I’ll be all set for international travel. I should be able to go abroad for a few months at a time, with no van, and still live my normal life with no disruptions.

So: 

  1. Clothes
  2. Phone
  3. Laptop
  4. Guitar

Ideally the top 3 would fit in a carry on bag (I also own other music stuff and bike stuff, which I’d store because it’s too expensive to sell and buy again when I get back).

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Originally Bly was told she would never be able to do such a trip. Why? Because a woman would need too much luggage?!? As you can see, she managed with just one hand-satchel. See: http://digital.library.upenn.edu/women/bly/world/world/html

 

I’d like to get used to this early, so it becomes second nature. This means going through another purge, some aspects of which might seem extreme – learning to cut my hair with scissors and ditch the buzzer, learning to exercise barefoot and get rid of trainers, and chucking all sentimental documents (once scanned) in the bin.

 

I want to say at this point that this is tough. This purge not only includes things I actually use, it means saying goodbye to things that I psychologically depend on as constants since my surroundings change so frequently.

Down to a point, discarding can be fun and a good release. It can mean letting go of the weight of things you don’t need. However, I feel already way below that point, and it’s destabilising. Technology is on my side – all media can be digitised, but only the information content of a document can be captured in a scan. There’s no substitute for the real letters of a loved one, or the CD signed by your hero. Goodbye to those. 

Dave Bruno touches upon this theme in his 100 Thing Challenge, in which he purges some things which used often, were irreplaceable and meant a lot to him. Overall, it was worth it because of the personal developments he achieved by fulfilling his challenge. 

So, the question is, is worth it to me? Every time I come back to the same answer – I’d rather enjoy the freedoms that I have with less stuff, than reach into the recycle bin and draw out all my old letters. Every day I’m thankful for the life I lead and daydream about where I’ll travel next.

I’m part of a new generation of people who are nomads rather than holiday makers. We’re living normal lives, but moving location often. This being the nature of my life, I have to constantly let things go. In many ways that’s a good thing, and feels like a more natural way to be.  Doing so is good reminder that there’s more to life than stuff, and that nothing can truly be held onto… but this post acknowledges that it still hurts a little. 

-Kimwei

Also check out the Symphony For Happines Vlog

… and connect with me @:

facebook.com/kimweidotcom

Music @:

kimwei.com

youtube.com/kimweidotcom

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Infectious Minimalism (Guest Post)

My Minimalism has somehow become infectious. It inspired my best friend to have a major clearout, and then write this article. Thanks Katie!

“Minimalism seems to have made it into the mainstream, in parts thanks to the New York Times No. 1 best selling books by Marie Kondo. Their success comes from understanding that our relationships with our possessions are not just practical but emotional too; and although I began my journey towards minimalism because I just want to be able to keep track of what I had, it quickly became a way of an emotional decluttering too.

belongings as art

Here are my beautiful bags, all lovingly altered/made for me by my friends and family.

Less Choice is More Freedom

 We spend our day making constant choices about small or unimportant things – what to choose from the menu, or in the supermarket, what clothes to wear in the morning, which books we read. When I began getting rid of stuff this was something that concerned me – what if I want to read that book again? Or wear this skirt ? What if at some point I desperately need this automatic avocado peeler and slicer? (Okay, I made the last one up….).

emotional things packed away

Box-love. Finally, I can actually find things in their rightful places, and even the boxes they are stored in are things of beauty.

 

But although there have undoubtedly been times I have felt a pang of absence for something I no longer have, there is a bigger payoff: an absence of what I call ‘mind-clutter’. To chose between 6 pairs of trousers and 10 tops creates needless choice. As Neil Gaiman says “the main reason I’ve been wearing more or less the same thing for about 20 years is so that I don’t have to think about what I’ll wear”.

Removing these constant tiny choices has stilled my mind and allowed me to chose what I focus on, like my underlying thoughts and feelings, or the world around me. And having less choice makes me appreciate the smaller choices I do make – which cup of these two to use, which of my two scarves to wear, where to sit to be in the sunlight. Consumerism teaches us that constant choice gives us freedom, but it often just shackles the mind. There is a joy that comes from these small choices and even a joy from having no choice at all.

The Spark of Joy

And joy is what Kondo’s second book is all about. Every time we see something we react to it – often on a deeply subconscious level. For me a large part of choosing what to keep was bringing these reactions into the conscious level. Kondo has a simple but effective way of determining what to keep – if it doesn’t bring a ‘spark of joy’, ditch it.

For example, I had a big stash of clothes I couldn’t wear anymore because I’d put on too much weight. I kept hanging onto them because I did not want to let go of the thought that I am not that person anymore, and did not want to think I might not be her again. But the truth became that every time I saw them I felt sad, and guilty and bad about myself. When I gave them away I also gave away these feelings.

Sometimes the emotional reaction to things is not that simple, for example, there were some things from my ex that stirred fond memories in me when I saw them. But at the same time it was bitter sweet because we’re are no longer in contact and I am sad to have lost him. Some things I got from him I gave away, some I kept but put in storage. It’s important to remember the past, even the sad bits, but to be constantly be reminded of it by your possessions can encroaches upon the present.

Be Friends With Your Pen

stationary sparks joy

I actually can barely physically write because of problems with my hands and use a dictation program most of the time. So on the rare occasion that I am able to, it feels good to have a special pen.

The anthropologist Robin Dunbar suggested that humans can only really have strong connections to about 150 people in their lives. I think that this is also true of our belongings. Every time you see or use something your own it is an interaction, like a human one, it demands our attention, even if it is only to pick up a pen and paper to write a letter. My possessions are now like friends – each one needed and wanted.

I started my minimalist journey because I had 4 rulers but everything was so cluttered I couldn’t find anything. I now have one ruler and can find it most of the time! But it has also been a surprisingly spiritual journey. I understand more now why nuns and monks give up their possessions on entering the religious life. I thought it was all about self denial, but it is as much about freeing your mind from negative relationships with the world around you and there by giving you the space to be more aware of your inner self.

  • Katie Moudry

http://lookingthroughcracks.blogspot.com ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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