I am a minimalist, but like many of you – I struggle to keep it simple. Both mentally and in the physical worlds.

National Simplicity Day was founded to honor Henry David Thoreau, on the day of his birth, 12 July , 1817, and his insistence that a simple life, lived without busy clutter and in nature, was the way to glimpse the “universal truths” that inherently lie deep within each of us. He suggests that these truths get buried by our attachment to the material and the status quo.  Celebrating the mundane, the simple acts of daily life, the arrival of the first spring flower or bird, as miraculous and soul sustaining.

A life of simplicity, lived in natural surroundings is ideal, maybe a goal to try to attain, but impractical for the majority of urban dwellers. Maybe you don’t have two years to go live in the forest. Maybe, like me,  you can’t even take the whole day out of your busy schedule to idle in the wilderness. However, the neighborhood park or arboretum could be just the ticket for an afternoon of unplugging. Take a copy of Walden Pond with you for some inspirational reading, or as the case may be, re-reading. Make a point to get down to the most basic of equations, ( you plus nature equals biophilia) for at least an hour or two. Biophilia is the recently scientifically determined phenomenon that humans feel good in nature. Proven by millions of dollars and countless hours of research, and not by millennia of humans liking to watch sunsets, take picnics with loved ones or sit by waterfalls or in our gardens.  When I was in Japan recently I went “ forest bathing “

The oddly paradoxical aspect of this theory is that Nature, taken in its entirety, is really anything but simple. It is a complex interwoven net of conditional systems, constantly varying and completely dependent on the absence or presence of one another.

A few suggestions for taking back your simplicity:

  • Unplug for a few hours, or at least take a walk without your phone
  • Make a simple meal of just raw fruits and vegetables
  • Call someone and say simply ‘I Love You’
  • Smile
  • Laugh
  • Give Something Away
  • Smell the roses

Hippocrates said “If you are in a bad mood, take a walk. If you are still in a bad mood, take another one.” Celebrate our original selves in nature.  My dog Bentley gives me ample opportunity to get out and walk in the park.

Simplify your personal life, this includes clutter. In chapter three of my book Yogalean, “ Remember that all matter takes up space and energy.” We may find ourselves held hostage to maintaining these items and actually perpetuating the clutter. You will have more mental and physical space available to grow and create in a more simplified environment.

Thoreau said “As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.”  This is truly radical thinking! The power to change the laws of the universe lies within you, you can affect the metaphysical world on a truly Einsteinian level. This is major. This concept of simplicity is ancient, from the founders of yogic practices to monks of both eastern and western traditions, practice simplicity in both the mental and material planes. So get out there and KISS, keep it simple sweetheart. Another way to keep things simple is to give things away.

Every July 15 is National Give Something Away Day, an excellent chance to do something nice for someone else while actually making your own life better at the same time!  So here’s the truth – people have too much stuff as a general rule. I believe that we spend half of our lives collecting stuff, then half of our lives giving it away ort trying to get rid of it.

I’ve seen too many of my friends whose parents have passed have to deal with not only grief but A LOT OF STUFF.

My yoga practice constantly reminds me of the importance of simplicity. “ Me and My Mat “ and all of that – but it’s true – Less is more!

Apparenetly, I’m not the only one who thinks so – Decluttering, pairing down, downsizing and giving back are all on the rise across the United States.  We live in extreme abundance, often without even recognizing it as we go about our daily life. Part of having gratitude for that abundance is the ability to share it, to give-away. In the spirit of the Northwest Potlatch, the more you own means the more you can give away.

In the Potlatch feasts, the giver receives a sense of lightness and joy from the act of giving as well. As I mention in an entire chapter dedicated to this in my book YogaLean cleaning out spaces simplifies our lives and makes room for more positive flow of light, air and energy.  There are various ways to participate in the act of giving something away.  

  • Give away items; clean out a closet or garage and donate the excess.  
  • Donate money to an organization or buy a meal or drink for an random person. Also very valuable and crucial is giving time and skills.
  • Volunteer at a food pantry or local library. Look around your community and see where your interest and attention can make a difference, whether it be the local animal shelter, after-school programs, arts centers, prison or elders’ home.
  • Give someone your seat in a public situation (bus, train etc)
  • Pay it forward.
  • YogaFit has always believed in and supported the idea of giving as a community service and Karmic obligation. You have something=you give something. That is why all of our students must complete eight hours of free yoga classes somewhere in the community before they can receive their Level One certificate.  

Look around you, see the abundance.  There is probably something you can give away today and make someone’s day!