Have you ever gone on a journey around your bedroom or home- noticing and appreciating the beauty all around you in each detail of crowning, stitchery, paint stroke, clothing item, or leaf of a house plant?
You can travel down your block, in your neighborhood, or through your town, and experience beauty and wonder. The trick is to have a curious and receptive state of mind.
I've been reflecting more on Alain du Button's book, The Art of Travel. He makes some very interesting statements about ourselves, our space, and our thoughts. During the last section of the book, he comments on a book that he read called, A Journey Around My Bedroom by Xavier de Maistre, written in 1790. Xavier was sentenced to house arrest for 6 weeks, so instead of feeling doomed and trapped, he decided to go on a journey of his imagination, through his own bedroom.
By treating his bed, his armchair, the artworks on the wall and his small library as major tourist sites, he planned to reflect upon their history, their importance to him, and the philosophical questions that they brought to mind. This philosophy fits perfectly with one of my favorite quotes and mantras from Leonardo da Vinci, "Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else." "A bed," writes de Maistre, "witnesses our birth and death; it is the unvarying theater in which the human race acts out, successively, its captivating dramas, laughable farces, and dreadful tragedies. It is a cradle bedecked with flowers; -- it is the throne of love; -- it is a sepulcher." He states that the room is "that enchanted realm containing all the wealth and riches of the world", revealed and reveled in when he has the time and peace to dwell on it.
Do you try to get away from yourself by traveling to somewhere far away, only to be confronted with yourself, your insecurities, annoyances, impatient tendencies? Do you find that you don't want to be tethered to your stagnant furniture?
Alain states, “It is not necessarily at home that we best encounter our true selves. The furniture insists that we cannot change because it does not; the domestic setting keeps us tethered to the person we are in ordinary life, who may not be who we essentially are.” This is why many people set out to travel, to escape- to try to rediscover themselves.
In yoga philosophy we ask ourselves the essential question, Who am I? Do you know how to be happy and quiet in your own room? Or are you unhappy with your space. What can you change, clear out, or move to create a beautiful and peaceful oasis for yourself?
According to Alain, “Our capacity to draw happiness from aesthetic objects or material goods in fact seems critically dependent on our first satisfying a more important range of emotional or psychological needs, among them the need for understanding, for love, expression and respect.”
How can we begin to satisfy those needs? This leads to even more self discovery and studying the 8 Limbs of Yoga can help understand this process more. Begin by taking a deeper look at yourself in your own space.
Let's start by discussing the Limb of Niyama, with a focus on personal habits and self-discipline.
Do you clean up after yourself regularly? Do you ever deep clean? Is it often enough? Have you thought about re-arranging your furniture?
These questions literally hit home with me. As I was preparing in July to travel to Eastern Europe in August, I decided to rent out my apartment through AirBnb. I've recently stayed in AirBnb accommodations in Mexico and I like the Avaunt Guard theory that goes along with finding new, efficient ways to travel. I found the perfect guest who volunteered to also look after my cat. Then, I began to prepare for departure. I read on the website that I could get a bad review if my apartment was anything less than impeccably clean! I consider myself a relatively tidy person, but my place was far from impeccable. I decided to deep clean one area of my apartment at a time.
I'm embarrassed to admit that I found corners and pockets that I have never cleaned (in 5 years at this place). I've just never looked that closely. On my hands and knees, scrubbing the yellow tiles and tub, crowning, and bookshelves, I had to individually move each book, earring, and candle and remove all dust, grime, or settled cat hair. Throughout the process, I began to fall in love with my apartment again as I noticed the growth in my plants I remembered how much I've grown since I've moved here. The candle wax drippings remind me of hosting book-clubs and intimate discussions. Dusting each book reminded me of the adventures that I've already experienced. Through Dharana,another Limb of Yoga- we can slowly concentrate on specific objects, leading to Dhyana, total absorption through meditation. Through observing, focusing, finding peace, thought and object become one.
I also read in the agreement that I needed to leave a fair amount of space open in the closet for my guest to hang her clothes. Then I realized that I've been a pack rat. I still have some dresses from high school. I love themed parties and excuses to dress up in costume, but do I really need 6 outfits to go along with the 007 theme? I realized that I must let go of some of these precious finds that I spent my hard earned money on. Many of them are just an antique now. Hanging in the closet as a memory. I can just take a digital photograph now to serve that purpose.
Shoes are another story. I feel like I spent so much time gathering the right pairs of shoes to wear with the right occasion, but many of them are so uncomfortable, that I never end up wearing them more than that one time that they gave me blisters. Then, the process of packing only a few shoes, dresses, and yoga clothes for a whole month was also challenging, but its healthy to realize that I don't need to keep accumulating. Through this process I had the chance to experience the yoga Limb of Tapas, which is about minimizing and doing with luxuries. My struggle is to sustain that concept now that I'm back to a materialist society. Im working on finding contentment, Santosha, with what I have.
During my travels through hostels and AirBnb apartments, I found myself missing my studio. I even displayed the image of my room as the home-screen of my iPad.
Some thoughts to ponder about creating your own peaceful and loving space:
Do you have enough light?
Is there growth around you?
What can you change, clear out, or move to create a beautiful and peaceful oasis for yourself?
Do you clean up after yourself regularly?
Do you ever deep clean?
Have you thought about re-arranging your furniture?
Do you honor your body in this space? Is there room to practice yoga or stretch?
Hannah seeks to find relationships between nature, cultures, yoga, and art through her writing.
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Lessons from Abroad