I have always hated food shopping. I don’t like making a list. I don’t like having to plan healthy meals for four people with very different dietary “issues”. I don’t like the supermarket. I don’t like spending money there every week. I especially don’t like unpacking the bags when I get home, trying to find a place for things in a very tight space, a small refrigerator, crowded cabinets.
But it’s something that I must do. Every 7 to 10 days. So I’ve been trying to change my way of thinking about it. I am thinking about it in a whole new way. I am letting go of the idea that I hate it!
And here is my new idea: I will dedicate the act of food shopping to family. I will make them my intention as I push my cart through the automatic doors. I will try to see it solely as an act of love for them. Hopefully, it will be a more pleasant experience each time.
We’ll see. I have to go food shopping today.
In an effort to make room for the groceries I will bring home, I decided to first completely clean out my refrigerator. A leftover pasta creation from five days ago that I am certain will never be eaten, in the trash. The jar of relish that has only a trace amount left in the bottom, in the trash. Questionable lettuce, in the trash. Expired horseradish sauce, trashed. A jar of barbeque sauce that I experimented with once, and everyone absolutely hated, trashed.
As I washed the six empty Rubbermaid containers, I started to feel a little lighter. I had cleared out space for the new groceries, and now, when I came home, it would be much easier to unpack. I realized that this desire to purge and make space is an ongoing theme in my life.
My girls are ready for a new wardrobe. They have both grown a lot over the past year, and it is time to trade our cold weather clothes for warm weather clothes. They need all new stuff. But I have told them that I will not be buying them anything new until they clean their room, go through their closet to make space, and donate all of the old clothes that will no longer be worn.
While it is easy to get rid of food that has expired, or obviously gone bad, it is harder for them to let go of clothes that they love. But in our tiny house, it must be done. We don’t have enough space to pile more things on top of our things. And I don’t want to live like the people on “Hoarders”.
Aparigraha is the yogic principle of “greedlessness”, or non-hoarding. It literally means “not grasping all around”, not needing material possessions, not filling your life with things. It is realizing that there is a deeper meaning to your life, one that has nothing to do with how much you can accumulate. It is a practice of loosening your grip on material possessions, and understanding that happiness comes only from within. It enables us to live in the present moment, and share all that we have with others, in a greedless way. It teaches us to let go of things.
Our ideas are also things. And our minds are filled with old ideas, and old ways of looking at things. Ideas and ways that we have had in our heads for decades. Things we believe, that we are not willing to let go of.
If we keep our heads filled with things we won’t let go of, then we won’t have enough room for new things. Like the refrigerator, we can try to squeeze something new in, but more often than not, we will have to make room. We have to shift things around, or remove them completely. We can’t just keep putting things on top of things. If we do, there will be no space to breathe. It’ll get too crowded. Things will spill over onto other things and contaminate them. Things hidden in the back will start to rot, and smell funny. Every time we try to open the door, we’ll be stressed out by the mess, and we won’t be able to find what we are looking for. It really has to be cleaned out sooner or later.
Make room for something better, something healthier. Letting go of the old things is freeing. It is not how much we accumulate that will bring us peace, but how much we can let go.