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21-Day Challenge: Garden of Simplicity
Birju: This is a special call today. It’s more like a sharing circle, learning from each other, rather than from one particular guest. Starting on Jan. 9, KindSpring kicked off a "Simple Living Challenge." We are now on day nine of this challenge. This call is part of the challenge. In addition to the daily challenge we're taking on and writing about online, there's research continuing to show the importance of group reflection and learning from each other. Today is about that. Whether you've been a daily participant in the challenge or not, we'd love to create a space for the experiences you've been having and learning from the process. Hopefully in the next two weeks after the call, there’ll be a way to go deeper in the practice.
There's a lot of research now showing that if you give an allowance to a child for doing his chores, you might get the chores done this week, but over the course of a lifetime that person will think about doing the dishes as a "chore," as something that shouldn't be done for the fun of it. This is the kind of experience that allows for brain re-wiring and re-framing. Doing kindness is not a chore; it's a joy. The first question I'd like to invite, and I'd like to invite it of Amit, is a seed for this conversation. The question is around the aspiration of simplicity. Why do we practice simplicity at all? What is our aspiration for simplicity in our lives?
Amit: The first things that came to mind were some of the activities from this past summer. We have interns here at ServiceSpace. Internships last 10 to 12 weeks and each week there's a different theme. During the third week this past summer our theme was simplicity. All of the interns were to do acts that either invited simplicity or were to speak with individuals who invited simplicity into their lives. We spoke with Duane (Elgin), who decided to be a guest on one of our weekly intern calls. I always find it refreshing to get the lens of youth because there's not as much dust on it. One of our interns, Neelay, talked about how even the act of cleaning up his bedroom with the lens of simplicity made him see how much junk he had, and how, when he cleaned all of it up, it created some mental space. One of our other interns, Meera, decided to find the simplest person she knows. Her grandmother didn't wear makeup, she doesn't go out to eat, she doesn't have any possessions outside of her spiritual books. After Meera decided to sit and speak with her grandmother, she and her friend and her brother decided to give up ice cream and shopping for a week.
What I find interesting is that simplicity means so many things to so many people. It's important when we have these types of dialogues, it's important to understand where each of us is coming from or what that viewpoint is.
The first question I might invite for others is to ask, what does simplicity really mean to you?
Mish, New York City: This is Mish from KindSpring. I'd like to thank everyone who makes these challenges possible. It's a lot of work and we're all grateful. Simplicity is an inside job. It starts in my mind. For me to have simplicity in my life, I think of my mind as my garden. I have to weed it constantly. When I weed it, I make space for buds of awareness to grow. Also important is not having a clouded mind -- de-cluttering my mind. From there, everything flows. For me, simplicity starts with taming my thoughts, breathing deeply, and coming from a place of stillness.
Mindyjourney: This is Mindyjourney from KindSpring. I also want to thank everybody for this opportunity to share our insights and reflections. I have been a member on KindSpring for about a year and a half, and since that time have experienced quite a transformation myself. My greatest pleasures are the simple things now. Sitting under my arbor watching birds and the flowers, for example. It’s reflected in my outer life in many ways. When I go shopping, I always buy the bare essentials. I'm not interested in clothes or flashy fashions -- not that I ever really was, but even less so now. I enjoy this Simple Living Challenge very much. It's a true reflection of where I am at in my life. My cumulative experiences have taught me that the best things in life are the simple things that cannot be bought with money. We can spend our time wisely. I've discovered that many of our participants might challenge me. We come from diverse backgrounds, all over the world, but we all want the same things. We want the joy and love of our families, we want peace, and for the most part do desire a simple life. I thank KindSpring and ServiceSpace for bringing this opportunity to enable us to create this space in our life for the simplest things. Thank you very much.
Aurora: Hello, my name is Aurora, and I am from Mexico. I joined the Simple Living Challenge at Kind Spring. This is something I had not paid attention to before. I was living a hectic life and trying to get through this day and on to the next one. Now I'm trying to pay more attention to who I am. It's a challenge, because it's something I'm not used to, but I am taking small baby steps toward that. For example, I realized I have not tasted the food I have been eating for who knows how long. Now I try to taste the food. I want to thank everyone for making this possible and for opening a whole new window for me.
Christine: My name is Christine and I'm from northern Virginia. The Simplicity Challenge came along at just the right time for me. It seems to me that we need simplicity to live life fully, to be able to make informed choices in a society where many of us have a lot of opportunities. The challenge has provided the opportunity to explore the various aspects of physical and mental simplicity. It's been wonderful for me so far.
Angela: My name is Angela, from Berlin, Germany. Simplicity for me, as with the first speaker, has a lot to do with the mind. My first step is learning to simplify and clear out my mind. One of the first practices was one I was forced into. I moved from the United States to Germany and was only allowed two suitcases. I had to give away or sell everything I had, so I moved to Germany with just two suitcases. It was the most freeing experience for me ever, especially coming from the American culture of “gather, gather, consume” to completely letting go. So that was the first impulse of how wonderful letting go can be, and how freeing that is. I continued to try and practice letting go in all forms as much as possible.
Birju: If you're moved by the question of how you're finding this challenge so far, we'd love to hear if it is easy or hard, and why.
Prakash: This is Prakash from “Heart of the Bay,” Hayward (California). What came up for me is the idea of being simple as a gateway to celebrating freedom. The picture that opened up for me was that this life is an incredible gift. The Mother Planet Earth, the Blue Planet, is such an amazing place to experience so many things. Being simple in our interactions, being simple with fashions, and saying "Yes" to less really opens up our time and resources and our ability to experience. We're all shining lights. This practice in conscious cultivation helps us to dust ourselves off and stay in the awareness of what an incredible light we all are, what an opportunity we have with this gift of life. In my everyday experience and daily practice, one way I deepen and express my gratitude towards this gift of life is being aware and mindful of interaction with the natural resources. What comes to mind is how we use the natural resource of water. There is a vision of doing something to give pure water to as many people as possible through some innovative ideas and projects. Through doing simple things like water cultivation. This is my first-ever challenge on KindSpring. I was super-excited. This has been a beautiful experience and I want to say thank you for all who make it possible.
Amit: I was thinking about this idea of voluntary simplicity, which our guest Duane Elgin spoke about a couple of weeks ago. If I am inviting simplicity into my life, aside from the material impacts, I thought, "What does it mean in terms of my mental state and how I approach other people and other interactions?” One area is truthfulness. You can get caught up in robotically saying "How are you," to which somebody robotically responds, "I'm fine. How are you?" You may not be fully forthcoming with your thoughts on something. When you invite simplicity, you're inviting truth as well. That way, no complications arise, although the truth is a little difficult to handle.
Duane: I'm really appreciating the conversation. I'm learning a lot.
Birju: What is your aspiration for simplicity in your life, and what have you received as such a pioneer in this way of thinking for decades now?
Duane: My aspiration would be to engage life more intimately, more directly, more truthfully. We're living in a “living Universe.” We get distracted by all the clutter and the complexity of the material side of life -- and, boy is that out there in Western culture, which is filled with distractions. For me, simplicity is the knife that cuts through the complexity and takes me into the aliveness of a living Universe. Out of that aliveness comes creativity and generative inspiration. I would not have done the decades of creative work on transforming the world that I'd done had I not been choosing the path of simplicity at the same time. It's supporting of us to give our true gifts to the world. This has been integral to a larger life and a richer life for me.
Birju: I see the connection between the simplicity inside and the simplicity outside as benefits for society as a result of it. Diving a little deeper into the reflection part of our call, we'd love to invite some stories from these last eight days. Are there experiences you'd like to share that bring these concepts down to the ground? The recent practice of taking moments of silence has been really helpful for me in practicing simplicity. When I think being simple is staying home for the evening, and I'm around a group of people who don't wish to do that, do I wish to fight in order to be simple? Or do I wish to be simple inside, and say, "Yes, I'm willing to go along," and at the end of the day share my perspective? That kind of approach is possible because of the practice that took place over these last eight days.
Sofia: This is Sofia. I'm calling from Southern California. I joined the Challenge. It was perfectly timed with the start of the new year. I love these wonderful reminders each day. I'm a person who challenges themselves anyway – I’m not competitive, but I like to push beyond my comfort zone. I love de-cluttering my life. I do this regularly, but it's nice to have somebody remind me and challenge me a little bit. Reducing screen time is another one I can relate to. It's something I try to do on my own. I wake up in the morning and check to see what the challenge is and incorporate it into my day. Spending time in silence -- I'll make that my special priority for the day. It's been beneficial to me to incorporate these healthy habits for simple living. I like being in this "Garden of Simplicity" with other like-minded folks. It makes me feel I'm tapping into a great collective unconscious --everybody working together for common causes. It's about keeping life simple, living in the present, taking care of my body, exercising and eating healthy food, and enjoying what nature has to offer. The challenges help me to focus on what I'm thankful for. Thanks, KindSpring.
Stephanie: I'm Stephanie calling from Berkeley, California. This is my first time on this program. I can connect with what everyone is saying. I've often thought of simplicity and held it as a value, but it is a real challenge to me for many reasons. Living in Berkeley, there are so many issues that come up. I feel a connection with nature and other creatures. There are the challenges of wanting to protect it and love it, so I join various groups regarding these issues. It’s a challenge. I do a brief meditation every morning, which really helps. Going out and taking a walk alone helps. I'm not the kind who goes out and buys a lot of things, but I accumulate things that have to do with all the groups I'm in. It's the paper challenge! (Laughs) I'm full of challenges, but very appreciative of this call. Thank you.
Aryae: This is Aryae, from Half-Moon Bay, California. I've been learning a lot in listening to what all of you have said. This was my first Kindness Challenge. My concept about simplicity was something like Thoreau: "I've got to give up my house and my car and everything else, unplug, and go live in the woods.” Which wouldn't be a bad idea. But it has been great to come to understand that simplicity is the opposite of clutter. It's about getting rid of clutter not only on the physical level, but with information as well. It opens up a different way to live. I have two stories.
Today I was looking at Day Nine, "Give Up a Guilty Pleasure." One person was giving up coffee, another giving up tea, another chocolate. I thought, "Well, Gee, I don't want to give up any of that. I don't feel guilty about any of that anyway.” Somebody said they were giving up the guilty pleasure of negative thought. I thought, "Aha!" There's a place buried deep in my brain where, whether I want to or not, I can sometimes find myself judging someone. The guilty pleasure for me is, "If that person isn't so good, that makes me better, right?" No, not much. My practice for today is to give up that guilty so-called pleasure of judging another person.
One more story. A few days ago, the challenge was to do something you've put off. One way of creating clutter is to procrastinate, and then the list gets longer and longer. One thing I had been procrastinating about was returning a call from somebody who I'll call Rob.
I had known him years ago. He has a habit of calling me at 2 a.m. when I'm sleeping, and leaving long, rambling messages. Sometimes he'll sing a song. Sometimes there will be three or four of them when I wake up in the morning. Sometimes I'll return the call and sometimes I won't. On that day the challenge was "Do something you've put off." So I decided "It's time to check out what Rob's latest message is." It turned out that it was very simple. It was, "Today is my 65th birthday." I picked up the phone and called Rob. What he said was confused and rambling, but as I listened and he talked he got a little clearer. I sang him "Happy Birthday." We remembered times we used to hang out and share stories with each other. It was a very moving experience for me. It was that simple prompt in the challenge that prompted me to do something that my better nature knew I should have done anyway. I'm very grateful to everyone in the community who creates this space.
Amit: I like what Aryae said -- rather than giving up chocolate or whatever it might be, he was giving up negative thoughts. I love how the field is expanding in terms of how we can apply simplicity in our lives. Going back to Sofia's comment that she had ended up going toward a space of gratitude -- I'm curious to know what your opinions are when practicing simplicity and how gratitude has entered the picture.
Birju: I feel that they're deeply intertwined. There's a saying that's now been shown to be scientifically true, that gratitude and sadness don't have the ability to exist in the same space. How do I create a situation where I can be more focused on gratitude? I found Duane Elgin's reflection earlier to be true in my life. As I seek out ways to de-clutter externally, I have more space to build different habits. To build inner wealth. Even what we're doing right now, all talking about simple living. It takes time to say "Hey, I want to take out two hours to do this, and I've created this space in my life to actually do that.” It also takes mental time to say this is worth it. The psychological burden of calling in makes sense for me because I want to re-wire myself. I want to awaken my heart. That sort of thing is possible because of taking on these practices. When I'm done with this call, I’ll feel really grateful, because I know I'm not alone in this process. I will end this by being grateful to this group for the wisdom that I'm hearing. I took this note, saying, "How can negative thoughts be something I can consider as part of this challenge?" That's so beautiful to hear. Thank you.
Sandy: Sandy here from Cumming, Georgia, USA. I'm enjoying being part of KindSpring. My view may be a little different. We moved 24 times. We switched languages a few times between Spanish and English. I have learned to let go of things automatically as life threw them at me. Thinking of challenges, I have been challenged. Life always made me let go of friends, space, school, language, everything. I can de-clutter very easily. I have reduced all my closets to a third. I don't need to fill them. When people complain they need a big kitchen and big closet, I don't understand it. You don't need that much. You need clothes. Buy good quality and have what you need. I love working with my hands. I work with healing. I love to cook. One thing I've learned is expressing myself in a simple manner. I had directed meditations in a complicated way. But as time went by, they simplified so much. I've noticed while doing the Simplicity Challenge that, depending on people's stage in life, they reflect on simplicity in a different manner. People in my stage of life, who are retired, for example lead a more simple life in general. We have more peace available. I spend a lot of time in silence. I spend a lot of time doing what I want. I'm not in the rush of life. I hear people having to deal with the children, the school, the job, and the stresses and the transportation. At this point in life I don't have to be in those stressful situations. It’s been good to make such wonderful friends and get some beautiful ideas. I always read everybody and have a comment for everybody. It's wonderful to find people who are so giving, so loving, and wanting to do the best. Thank you.
Birju: I want to hear reflections on how you're pushing your boundaries each day. When we started this challenge, an idea was to give something away. What I decided to give up that day was a pen. I checked off the box for the day, if you will. What I reflected on at the end of the day was this: What would really be pushing it for me to give away would be to give away my time. I wanted to invite that reflection. What are you trying to do to push your boundaries?
Tom: This is Tom in Walnut Creek, California. I wanted to reiterate the thanks that others have given to the team at KindSpring who have put this together. It's a lot of work but it's much appreciated. Coming just after Christmas this is a perfect time to do this. We've all been caught up in the rat race of what was supposed to be the peacefulness of the Christmas-to-year's-end celebrations. It would be a good idea to repeat this 21-day challenge next December, in order to keep it in people's minds as they go into the feeding frenzy that the year-end holidays have become. There might be some chance to make this open-ended. It doesn't have to end after 21 days. There should be some way that this is a portal to an ongoing process for people who want to live simply. I'm not sure what form that would take, but I think it's something to consider. I'd like to reiterate what Duane said, that simplicity is both internal and external. I'm not sure you can have one without the other. It has to be in simplifying our own minds as well as our possessions. To the extent we do one, we probably do the other.
Amit: I want to share some comments we've gotten online. One is from Alina calling from the Boston area. She says, “I'm smiling and waving and hoping to get to know everyone better, including myself, through this challenge.” Another, Ana Luiza, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, says "I want to say I'm grateful to listen to this call. I've been able to engage in the 21 challenges because I am on vacation and have time. When it comes to our "normal" lives, with a lot of work, it (the challenge) can be more difficult. So far I'm managing to do all the challenges. Every day I'm looking forward to receiving the emails and reading the next challenge. Thank you for being here. Thank you for the ServiceSpace organizations. The Daily Goods are wonderful as well."
Adria: I'm Adria from Kirkland, Washington. I'm amazed that we have people from all over the world doing this. I'm on the challenge because a co-worker said, "Hey, I'm on KindSpring and there's a really cool simplicity challenge. Who's up for it?" I grew up very poor and lower class in Maine. One of the challenges is "Make something with your hands. Make curtains. I don't own a sewing machine. Making curtains would take months because it has to be done by hand. I really like the way Prakash shared on thinking about our natural resources. Growing up in Maine, all we had were natural resources. One of the things that give me meaning was sleeping outside in the woods in our back yard. About four years ago I married my husband, from a completely different financial word than I am. I have had to learn new technologies. I've eaten in fancy restaurants that I never thought I'd even belong in. For me, this challenge isn't so much a challenge as it is going back to my beginnings and my comfort zone. I'm not challenging myself, I'm challenging my husband. We have an outdoor pond with fish. They all have names. One of the greatest pleasures in life is to go to the pond and call the fishes. They come to the surface and say "Feed us." That's simple. That's connection. I used to live in the city. I couldn't have that kind of connection. The daily challenges give me permission to go back to times when things weren't so confusing and demanding.
Angela: This is Angela again. I wanted reflect on some of the stories in the practice. One of the things I cherish the most is something I've learned from Thich Nhat Hanh. That is, heeding the bells, in whatever form, for “stopping.” When the telephone rings, instead of just going to answer it, stop and take the opportunity to breathe. We bought a lovely old-fashioned clock that rings every hour and half-hour. I feel very fortunate because every time that happens throughout the year, it becomes deeper and deeper. When things occur in my life I can just stop and breathe. That space for me is simplicity. It helps me to slow down and see more of what's in this moment. It's been a real gift.
The challenges have been wonderful to help me see which things I do automatically on a daily basis. Making things with your hands -- I've enjoyed discovering that side of me. The one that really touched me so deeply was the one that said, "Reflect on three things that bring meaning to your life." The use of that word (reflect) made such a difference in that challenge. The first thought that came to my mind was family, which has huge meaning in my life. Then it went deeper. I thought, "Okay, that's not all, it's love.” Not just my family, but friends, animals, nature. I really appreciated that one word, "reflect," because it helped me see and feel into where I actually was. It was a place where I enjoyed pushing myself. Thank you very much for creating these challenges.
Birju: It would be nice to share a few of the stories coming through online. There's a lot of research out there about the value of being able to find a daily community. For many of us that's tough to do, since we all have jobs. We’ve seen well over 1,200 stories online. These are real stories about what people have done that they would not have done otherwise. I wanted to read one or two.
This is one is titled, "Life Has New Meaning." This person is saying, "Being sober for seven years through AA has helped me know better what really gives my life meaning. It's no longer the material stuff I used to covet. It is staying sober, being of service in whatever way I can, and practicing gratitude for my many blessings. Thank you for reminding me of that and giving me an excuse to go deeper."
There's another story, "Mindfulness at Its Best." The comment is, "I learned this in a psychology class. When practicing with a piece of milk chocolate, the taste was like the Fourth of July. Today I'm looking forward to enjoying all the beautiful, unique flavors of food."
Amit: Duane, you've done so much research about how people live simply or invite simplicity into their lives. When you've researched people who invite simplicity, there's a resistance that comes up within them, whether that's the ego or another part of them. How have they overcome that? For them and for yourself as well, when you practice simplicity and feel some resistance.
Duane: In our society, which is so materialistic, so consumerist in its organization, there are going to be constant challenges to confront the inner wealth of simplicity in the face of this outer wealth. The idea of gratitude was brought up. We're grateful just to be alive and to feel the enormousness of that gift we've been given to be alive at this time and to connect with other people with that aliveness. That is a powerful motivation for cutting through the distractions that would otherwise keep us from engaging life more simply. Where do I find aliveness? It's in my relationships, my creativity, my contributions to other people, my connections with nature. That doesn't cost anything. It just costs some time and some consciousness and some engagement. I think we're in a learning process here. Having gone through a period of intense consumerism, we're coming out the other side. We're beginning to explore ways of cutting through that which really doesn't matter much, to get down to the essence that really is the gift of being here and choosing that in gratitude.
Birju: What you're calling out brings to mind another question that I'd love to ask of the group as well. I noticed that so many of the comments I'm hearing today are not just about the day-to-day practice. I'm hearing a narrative coming out that's saying, "Hey, it's not so easy to do this, but we're doing our best." I wonder if there are any reflections this group would have on our culture as a result of your practice. How have you been able to engage with your culture or do you have any deeper insights into the nature of our culture? It would be wonderful to hear the thoughts and reflections on these.
Indu: This is Indu from Ottawa. Thank you for this challenge. Thank you to all who shared. I haven't had an easy time with it because with some of the challenges you need to reflect quite a bit. When you have a busy day-to-day life it doesn't give you opportunities to do it. It still makes you reflect, however. The last question you asked about the culture -- I found that when I go back to my culture and what I learned in childhood, it brings clarity to the challenge of the day. To me, most meaningful is giving time to other people. I always felt I would “do it later.” Making those pending phone calls or a visit to someone which you have been postponing was my way of thinking about it. But what I really liked today was giving up the negative thoughts.
Amazon: Namaste. This is Amazon from Harker Heights, Texas. I'm grateful to be on the call today. I'm so grateful I've found KindSpring and all the connected sites. One thing I've done with the challenge that has really helped change me is to try to start early in the morning, when I'm meditating, to click on the challenge and start my day with the intention of honoring that challenge in some way before I go to bed. When I started on social media, which was difficult because it seemed very negative, I decided that if I couldn't do something kind or say something kind to try to change the conversation I wouldn't be part of it. It's been very delightful because every challenge that I take on, be it the kindness challenge or the science of mind challenge, I put it on Facebook. People are hungering for something positive. People are yearning for their higher selves to be ignited by anyone on any level of our daily lives. It doesn't have to be a "famous person" or a leader. It only has to be someone who wants to be kind and speak kindly. I'm delighted to say as I came home from the gym I put you on the speaker-phone when I was driving. When I got home about nine people had already engaged in the challenge. So even though people might not individually engage or have heard about you, each of us who are part of this community is inspired to share it with people. It's so simple. I love the speaker this morning. I love talking with people all around the world and being touched by their simplicity. As I get older, the simple becomes more important. This challenge has helped me to do a lot of things in my life that have made it better but also helped me to share it with people in my life and people I don't know. I'll be forever grateful to KindSpring for that. Thank you.
Birju: I would like to invite a forward-thinking process into this discussion. We've been doing this for nine days so far. As has been stated, the reason this KindSpring portal was created is not necessarily because 21 days will change our lives. There's no shortage of challenges out there. The question is, "What are we trying to invite into our lives, and how do we get the snowball going?" This idea of doing this with a group, making sure we're not alone, are all small opportunities to make sure that this brain-rewiring process, a process that none of us can do on our own, can be done together. What would you like to be working on as we go forward? Once the challenge is over, I'm assuming the folks on this call will not simply drop simplicity and say, "Okay, I'm glad to be able to shop 'till I drop." What is it instead of that, which you'd love to invite in? What is your aspiration and inspiration? We would love to invite that reflection. Maybe, Amit, you can start us off.
Amit: After hearing some of the insights from our callers, I would say that any act of simplicity on the outside is happening on the inside as well. When I'm de-cluttering my space, am I also starting to de-clutter my mind and trying to remove some of those complications? It is so important that, as we go through this process, we have community. It provides a feedback mechanism. It provides ways for us to feel supported, because it is not easy. That's why we call it a "challenge." In these next 12 days, what's important for me is to make sure anything I'm doing on the outside I’m also doing internally, and always being aware of that. A previous Awakin guest caller said his father was involved in sanitation and cleaned toilets in India. Whenever he would clean toilets, he would say, "As you're doing the physical act of cleaning a toilet, try to do the internal act of cleaning your mind."
Jupi: My name is Jupi. I'm calling from Mountain View, California. Thank you to the team for offering the challenge and this opportunity for reflection. Thank you to all the participants who have spoken before me. I was not intending to join the conversation, but I felt I had to. Aryae, thank you for the share about removing negative thoughts from the mind. I know that when I encounter that in day-to-day life, it is very off-putting. Even if the person doesn't say something, you can feel there is a judgment or negativity associated with it. I'm sensitive to that and always find myself distancing myself from places where I feel that's so. Thank you for naming that. Alina mentioned earlier that she's able to do the challenge because she's on vacation, and during regular work time it's too busy. That inspired me to share my story of when simplicity first came into my life. It came in through work. I was working as a strategy consultant, traveling all over the world, living out of a carry-on suitcase and laptop bag, literally five days a week. I would come home for the two days of the weekend and that was basically enough time to get the suits dry-cleaned and the refrigerator topped up for my husband because I had to cook food for him for the week I was gone, then get back on the plane and do the whole thing again. After doing that for a while, it made me realize that I'm spending so much of my life living out of a tiny carry-on suitcase and I'm earning all this money to keep a house and have all things I never had the time to enjoy. I had visitors in the house who enjoyed my home -- cousins, family, and friends who would come and enjoy the possessions that I would have no time to enjoy because I was working so hard. One day the penny dropped. I realized that I don't need all this. I don't need to be doing this. I can easily live out of a suitcase. I think that was the start of simplicity in my life. I knew I could walk away from all these things. Today I don't even need a carry-on suitcase. I live in earthquake country and know if I need to get out of my house during an earthquake, there is not a single thing in it that I would ever miss. The second thing I wanted to mention is the prompt, "Where are you pushing yourself? Where are the edges?" And the question about culture -- how the culture affects us. Having started on the simplicity journey several years ago, I only engage with things that interest me and that move me. The rest of it I'm quite happy to let go of and not give any attention to. I know there's a lot that, by normal cultural standards, would be considered as falling apart in my life, but that are things I'm quite happy to have fallen apart. I do not want to be engaging with those things. But there are things I do want to engage with, which this community and these practices have helped me with tremendously. The place I live in was a model home for the development when it started. It came with curtains, things done up in a certain way so that when they used to showcase the home for selling, they had those things already. .When I moved in, I had, as a single parent with a little toddler, no time to bother to do anything. I was grateful it was already taken care of. But all those things were too ornate. They were the kinds of things the rest of the world appreciates having, but they did not reflect me as a person. For close to 13 years I lived with those. I was happily ignoring them. It was okay for everyone to come and say, "Nice," but on a daily basis I did not like them. It did not move me enough to change it. Since I've started these practices of being more actively engaged with my environment and more actively participating in showing up fully, part of this was ripping out that ornate wallpaper in the bathroom this summer and making it a plain beige that I find more calming and more consistent with who I am. That is something I would not have engaged with prior to this mindfulness practice and this awareness of "What do we want to bring into our lives, and how do we want to live on a day-to-day basis?" Thank you for listening.
Amit: When we're reflecting on what this Kindness Challenge has been, what do you hope to invite over the course of the next 12 days remaining in the challenge and even thereafter?
Tiffany: My name is Tiffany. I'm from Wisconsin. Thanks for hosting the challenge and thanks to everyone who shared. I've been trying to simplify my life for a while. I had some health challenges, including chronic fatigue. I couldn't do much because I only had so much energy. But it became a blessing in disguise. I could think, "What do I want to put energy into? What's really important in my life? What do I want to do with this time I've been given?" My highest intention is peace and love. I think that starts from within. Maybe it's a cliché, but when I feel that sense of peace inside, I can share that and bring that to other people. It's not something I say or do; it's just holding that intention. Then I'm in a space where that's going to be apparent because I'll bring energy to it. Living simply helps me do that. Also: silence, meditative practice, and listening; being aware of what I'm doing and why I'm doing it; if I'm afraid, what that's tied to? Also, being reflective and mindful about the choices I make and how I live my life. My choices do affect other people. If I live simply, that allows other people to have things, Thanks for listening.
Amit: You hit upon a key point. In any of these challenges, whether it's the Simplicity Challenge or Kindness Challenge, or anything we do, it's the importance of having that awareness, that mindfulness in what we do, so we're clear about what our intention is. Our acts are intentional. Thank you.
Kathy: This is Kathy, from Washington, D.C. This has been inspiring and interesting. I want to thank everyone who has organized it and everyone who has shared. For me, this came to a head about six to eight months ago. My husband and I bought a home. We went from our one-bedroom apartment to a two-bedroom house with the intention of starting a family soon. The process of the last few months, while it's exciting to have our own place and get it set up, has also been a little bit discouraging for me. When we moved it was a matter of emptying one place, getting rid of things, recycling, donating, and then spending a lot of time and energy filling up our new home. There's a sense that, the more you have, and as we grow older and more established in our careers, we're getting to have more things, we’re almost less connected and less simple. It's a matter of a balancing act. Where do you grow in your career but still try to keep your life simple? Both of our jobs are in the service sector, helping folks who are low-income, who have mental illnesses, but it's something we get paid for. It's a matter of making sure our daily lives have meaning. The holidays are a difficult time. Even though my birthday happens around this time, there's so much pressure, materialism, consumerism, and unhealthy eating that I'm ready for January to come. The challenge came at a great time because I knew I wanted to return meditation to my life. But it's a matter of, "How do you get started, how do you do it, where do you do it?” This challenge is going to help me get back to a place where meditation is part of my daily life. I don't need to feel guilty for having a home now. Gratitude has always been part of my life. I make sure I'm always grateful for everything I have and blessed with everything I have. I think that will help me simplify. I want to thank you for having this challenge and for giving me an opportunity to share.
Mish: The greatest gift so far for me from this challenge is that I've been liberated from my to-do list. I wake up every morning and have a list of things to do. While I'm doing one thing I'm thinking about the other things I have to do. I don't have to do anything on my to-do list. What gets done gets done, and for me that's worth a million dollars.
Aryae: Going forward, I also struggle with an overly-long to-do list. For me it would be interesting to have a day where we have a challenge of simplifying our to-do list. Rather than have it cluttered with 10 or 15 or 20 things, what about the most important three things on the to-do list and focus on that?
Mindyjourney: I've really enjoyed all of the callers. I feel a sense of connection with everyone. That is the beauty of Challenge and of KindSpring. It connects us all. After the challenge is over, and even during, please come over to the community seed on KindSpring. We post there our kindness stories every day. We can further our connection above and beyond the 21 days. Thank you very much.
Amit: Thank you to all of our callers. We had another individual who emailed us. Bradley Stolle said "I love this challenge because it gives me the opportunity to consider what simplicity really means. For me simplicity comes down to answering one question: 'Do I want this or do I need this?' The vast majority of the time, the answer is 'I want it.' I want to minimize this answer. I'm not trying to give up all of my wants. I just need to reflect on this one question. I also categorize my wants. For instance, there are physical wants and needs and there are spiritual or internal wants and needs. My goal is to radically minimize my physical wants. A great example is this space being held right now. That is an internal need of mine. The love of my family and friends is more of a spiritual need. So thank you all for holding this space. With great gratitude, huge hugs, and super smiles, Bradley." Cynthia shares, saying, "My life in the past two years has been a slow but ongoing process of simplification. Not all of the process, like leaving my job and moving across country, felt wholly voluntary. While I knew simplicity is the right path for me, to be honest it is a lonely path. The greatest gift of the challenge has been the community. Just to express my gratitude to KindSpring and ServiceSpace and to all of you."
I want to share one list snippet from Swara Pandya from India, who took some time to interview some individuals who are legendary in their own right. One of the individuals shared this idea of simplicity: Arun Dada says "As your needs increase, your mind has more and more fodder to get engaged with. The longer your mind dwells in the mundane, the higher its chance to get entangled and lose the open and free sky it needs to rest in its true nature." An interesting Mira Ba quote: "There is a beautiful saying: 'The more you have, the less you are. The less you have, the more you are.' Either you flourish, or the material around you flourishes. The more you possess outside, the fewer opportunities you have to spend on internal growth."
Birju: I thought the closing by Mindyjourney was just a beautiful way to put this together. I feel like we're all in this together. I felt nourished by the reflections and to know that other people are trying to do this too. When we're talking about such small behaviors, behaviors that are not necessarily validated in our lives, to know that we can come back to a place where other people think it matters, too, means a lot to me. I want to share my gratitude with everyone who joined today.
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