“Full-time gratification is in fact bondage, because the more we consume the more we become captives of our consumption. Unlimited indulgence makes us less free because we become less self-sufficient. Each of our addictions – to caffeine, sugar, salt, sport spectaculars, TV game shows, alcohol, drugs, gambling palaces or other indulgences – is another nail in the coffin of our freedom, another restraint to our individual freedom. Most of us don’t even know how to indulge properly, and we sicken and die from the side effects of our indulgences. True enjoyment is possible only when there is true health.” Dr Robert E Svoboda, p.6 “Prakriti”.
Happy (belated) New Year to you. I’ve had a few emails in the last couple of weeks asking if I was still blogging as it’s been about 7 weeks since my last post. The reason for the extended absence is that for the first time in 10 years I took a long summer vacation. I’ve been doing a lot less work and a lot more living as I’ve been absorbing myself into my new home here in the Noosa Hinterland on the Sunshine Coast. After inner city living in Tokyo and then Sydney for the last twenty years, I now find myself living in the sort of environment which previously I “retreated” to when I needed a vacation. The interesting thing I’m grappling with now though, is how do I remain disciplined enough to still “work” whilst constantly feeling like I’m on vacation.
It’s a challenge I think I’m up for though, because when I wake up to the sound of native birds and look out over my balcony into the wonder of mother nature, it’s a daily reminder that our deepest needs are met by coming home to a more simple way of life.
I believe fundamentally we all yearn for more simplicity, because it’s only when our minds are unfettered that we live more rationally and can truly appreciate what is most important.
So how do we get more “simple” in our lives? Moving into a more peaceful environment might be a good start for some but peace of mind is of course more elusive than that. I believe it comes down to the practice of taking “a less is more” attitude to life.
So before the glow of new years resolutions begin to wear off and many of us slip back into old patterns, I thought I’d post some tips on “simple” choices we can all make to get more of what we truly need.
“Less to More” tips
1. Spend Less for More Freedom – Sadly for pretty much everyone in the modern world, our biggest concern in life is having enough money. So pervasive is this that we spend most of our waking hours working jobs that are often (at best) mildly satisfying, in order to meet our financial commitments. Micheal Fogler in his book Un-Jobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook Electronic Edition urges us to look at our employment choice with a broader lens. Yes, we make money from our job, but how much “life energy” does it cost you? And because we live in an ultra-competitive, win-lose world, we end up in a mind-set that we have no other choice but to run faster, just to maintain or (apparently) improve our “lifestyle”, in order to someday give us “freedom” (that never comes from this mentality), whilst we consume ever more stuff (we don’t need) in order to feel right day to day.
This never ending “accumulate more” is madness which sucks away your life energy and is fast destroying the planet. So many of us are trapped in this cycle, consumed with earning more money to constantly chase after and keep up with ever increasing expenses, which we often erroneously equate with “needs.” The way out is to consider everything in terms of how much “life energy” your choices cost you. Every dollar you spend, is another dollar you have to make back from your job. If you spend less, you can “job” less because less spending makes you more conscious of where you spend your money.
I’m not suggesting that you get stingy but there is always choice and it only takes a change in perspective and priorities to change how much money you need. Maybe then if your job isn’t truly fulfilling, you’ll actually have the freedom to work less, or do something else.
The more you can lower your expenses, the more freedom you will have to be the person you truly want to be.
2. Less Internet and TV = more ___ . Most of us spend a lot of time on the internet – surfing the net, checking social media, emails etc and then fill much of our remaining leisure time sitting in front of the TV. If you would like more quality time with loved ones, or be doing more of the things you know you should be doing (i.e exercise, reading, your art, meditating etc) then sets some strong boundaries on your Internet and TV use.
Personally, during our move over New Year, I managed to accidentally damage the antenna connection on our TV. It hasn’t been fixed and I’m very tempted to keep it that way. We don’t have TV now but we still have Internet to keep up to date with news and we can now be far more selective in what we watch. No commercial (junk) TV to get sucked into, we now select (quality) content to stream off ABC iview and SBS on demand, as well as watch more TED Talks . Without the TV we’ve become far less passive, and a lot more in control of how we engage with media. Best of all we have more time for doing things we didn’t have enough time for before.
3. Eat Less in order to Eat More of what you really want – After many years working with clients around their diets, I’ve learnt that people very seldomly change much when it comes to what they eat (me included). For most of us “eating right” is just another one of those daily battles of “what we should be doing”. I believe the solution is to drop the struggle but remember that health only comes after imposing some limitation. As Dr Robert Svoboda
says in my opening to this post, “true enjoyment only comes from true health”.
Limitation is inherent in life, accept it because your health will always be a reflection of your ability to endure your indulgences.
Food (even unhealthy food) isn’t the enemy, the “constantly battling against your indulgences” is the problem, imposing healthy boundaries on them is the answer. Naturally we all have to maintain a healthy balance in our dietary choices but I think we are all allowed to indulge in a healthy way. Remember though, you either willingly limit yourself or Nature will limit you. Disease is Nature’s way of forcing you to slow down and rest.
Practically this means things like; if you like dessert, you have a smaller main meal, if you like a drink, you only drink alcohol on the weekends etc.
Another powerful, practical approach to imposing healthy limitation is to think about eating only within certain hours of the day. Skipping breakfast and then eating between 12pm to 7pm (Intermittent Fasting), gives you flexibility in your diet. The reason why is because after you’ve rested and reset your metabolism, when you come around to eating at midday, you will more effectively digest whatever food you eat. Better still, over time from doing this your metabolism (specifically your insulin sensitivity) improves so that when you do eat, you eat with more control.
Fasting in it’s various forms “tunes up” the metabolism, it’s a simple, practical solution to staying healthy. If you’re interested in going down this road then please take a look at my Supported Fasting® Programs
Finally, remember you have to adopt the attitude that this isn’t deprivation, this is joyful simplicity, not sacrificial simplicity. True freedom comes form our ability to be totally adaptable, bringing more artful simplicity into our lives takes us there.
The Floor Is Now Yours
I’m never entirely correct with what I write, your truth is different to mine, if you have a different point of view, or would like to share your own experiences, I’d love to hear them.
To comment, click here
Aaron Travers is author and creator of “ The Boda Cleanse”– a three step plan to lower inflammation, maximise fat burning and restore vitality.” Aaron writes at www.thebodacleanse.com.au giving tips and personal insights on how to bring more health promoting simplicity into our lives .
Sources & Suggested Further Reading
Fogler, Michael; Un-Jobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook
Svoboda, Robert Dr. Prakriti