Clearing out the Clutter: Aparigraha
For aparigraha, I planned on spending at least 2 hours a week cleaning out one of the various cluttered spaces in my house, which include the spare bedroom, the garage, the basement, and the laundry room. In addition, I resolved not to purchase any new items, so as not to add to the accumulation of junk in my home. The third part of my experiment was that I would put together a garage sale and sell some of the items that I no longer needed, putting the money only towards debt repayment. By doing all of this I hypothesized that I would feel lighter, not only in the space of my house, but also in my body. I thought it would be difficult to start the process and part with items from my past, but I would feel great once they were gone, with no regret in their absence. As for svadhyaya, I had no formal hypothesis, only that I would spend time visiting schools for massage therapy and search for a new job, as I have been unhappy and stressed in my current position.
The results were far from what I had predicted. I had a very difficult few days at work, getting assaulted by one of our female clients. I found myself so exhausted, both physically and emotionally that I had a difficult time getting started. I made my 2 hour quota only 1 of the 3 weeks we practiced, with about a total of 2 hours invested in the other 2 weeks. I never really got past the starting stage. I was surprised that this feeling came, not from an attachment issue with throwing away my items, but more through an inability to do the work, or procrastination. There was just so much stuff in the spare bedroom that I felt disabled by where to start. I also failed to plan a garage sale, partly because I had not gone through all of my clutter, but mostly because I failed to recognize that my weekends were already full. My apparent failure in these tasks only managed to add to the stress and anxiety that was already present.
There was a bright spot to this maddening experiment that made it all worth it. I was able to abstain from bringing any new items into the house. This was huge for me, because I tend to turn to “retail therapy” when I am stressed. Even though my stress level was at its peak during this experiment, I did not spend money on anything other than necessities like gas, groceries, and the occasional dinner out. My husband and I used to eat out for every meal, but were able to cut back on this significantly. This boycott on shopping was difficult at first. I had to try really hard to remind myself that I wasn’t allowed to make any purchases that weren’t absolutely essential. By the end of the experiment, it was much easier. In fact, I found that if I forced myself not to buy something, the urge to have that item passed. Given time, I realized that I didn’t even really want nor need it, but that I just wanted the comfort it brought me to go shopping. This goes for both small as well as large ticket items.