Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Top 5 little luxuries

3 December 2013

Regular readers of this blog (both of you!) may be aware that I’ve been oscillating between living in Melbourne and Sydney. This oscillation (I do like that word!) will be continuing: I’m moving back to Sydney in about a fortnight (that’s two weeks for the North Americans among us), then returning to Melbourne at the beginning of March, in time to commence my doctorate. So my nomadic lifestyle shows no sign of abating, at least for the next few months.

As a result, most of my stuff is in storage at various places, which leads to the burning question: how much stuff do I really need? As it turns out, my peripatetic existence (oooh, there’s another nice word, peripatetic. I’m on a roll today!) — ahem, my peripatetic existence has been marvellous for my minimalism. How much crap do I really need? Even less than I thought.

Not everything that’s in storage will be purged. I have several coats, scarves and gloves that are staying — it’s just that there’s absolutely no point in taking them with me to Sydney. Especially in the heat of summer. (Winter was on a Tuesday there this year.) And I have a funky retro vase from the 70s, all white and terracotta swirls that is staying, but I’m not moving it until absolutely necessary.

The surprising turns are that things that I Absolutely. Cannot. Do. Without. They seem like luxuries, but here are a few items that help me maintain some vague semblance of sanity:

  • Singing bowl. Meditation has been linked to health benefits: try here, here and here for links. And there are more flavours of meditation than there are of ice cream: if you don’t like raspberry ripple, go for chocolate chip. My personal favourite is using a singing bowl, and I have a small one that’s portable enough to travel with me in a cabin bag.
  • Essential bath oil. Especially while I’m travelling or living a (wait for it…) peripatetic lifestyle, it’s just a little luxury. I’m fond of blends with a bit of vetiver or patchouli, and never, ever anything artificial. I don’t want my bath smelling like cheap air freshener, oh no no no. I’m on a budget; I can only afford the best. 🙂
  • Tea. Good tea. Seriously good tea. Brewed from leaves, so yes, a small teapot is an essential item. I currently have a high quality one with laser-cut strainer, which works because I brew rooibos which is really fine, but I’m looking for something a bit more lightweight.
  • Chocolate. Again, the good stuff. Thankfully good chocolate is becoming more readily available in Australia, although the hot and humid climate in most of the country still makes transporting it a challenge.
  • Cuff links. Small, portable, adds a dash of colour and fun. I’m planning to get about five pairs, without any qualms of guilt, because I’ll use them all. Cuff links always add something.

Those are my top 5 little luxuries — what are yours?

5 Quick Wins

7 May 2013

Hi everyone,

Today is a little how-to, as we get a little into the nitty gritty of how to be a minimalist. I’ve talked about the benefits of being free from clutter and I’ve shared some of my experiences on this joyous journey: now it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get cracking! Here they are: 5 quick wins!

  1. Surfaces. Get them clean! Get them clear! No, you don’t have to pack everything exactly right away in the right spot all at once: take it gradually. Be easy on yourself. Allow (at first!) a messy cupboard or two (or however many your current mess takes up!). Then whittle it down to one cupboard, one box, etc. In the meantime, have your dining table, benchtops, any surface you can think of, clean and clear. It’s a simple fix (shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes) and you’ll feel so much better for it.
  2. Budget. Here’s some simple maths: $ incomings > $ outgoings. If your outgoings are bigger than your incomings, you need to pare back and/or get a way of making more money. I now have a rule: all money must be budgeted before it can be handled. I use an easy way here: I budget in multiples of $10. For starters, my arithmetic is very ordinary, so it makes sense for me to round up or down (mostly up) for my expenses. Secondly, ATM machines in Australia only issue cash in multiples of $10, so I can easily allocate what money is going where at the ATM. (Money dedicated for a particular purpose is folded in half in my wallet, and must never be touched for anything else.)
  3. Wardrobe audit. Time to love yourself a little here. Anything frayed, tatty, stained, ripped, or generally at the end of a long and happy life has to go. Clothes in unflattering colours should go too (battleship grey? What the hell was I thinking? I’m not a battleship!). Get a few basic pieces (a “capsule wardrobe”) in basic neutrals and build from there. Don’t have a wardrobe full of clashing, unflattering, daggy clothes.
  4. Month of focus. This is a brand new idea and I’m starting to warm to it. You declare every calendar month a new focus. Thus, the month of May is going to be the month I (finally!) focus on swimming. I’ll keep you posted. June is looking like vegetable month.
  5. Meditate. Make the effort to “turn off” for about 15 minutes or so (is there something magic about 15 minutes?) and relax. There are all sorts of techniques that I like to use; one of my favourites is a little singing bowl. I have a massive quartz one (14″ no less), but I use my much smaller portable metal one much more. Focusing on my breathing, imagining a point of light — all these are good too!

So there you have it: five quick wins on the minimalist path. Enjoy!

The 12th Vitamin has been Discovered

9 April 2013

For those who know something about nutrition, there are currently eleven known vitamins: vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, B9 (folic acid), B12, C, D, E and K. Just an aside here: whatever happened to the letters F, G, H, I and J, and how did more than half of the vitamins end up with B? The letter B is just being greedy here. If all eleven vitamins got their own letter we would still have the letters A through to K covered, and no letters would miss out. Just putting it out there…

But I digress. After much long research, I have come to the conclusion that there is indeed a twelfth vitamin lurking in the shadows, that many — indeed, most — people are desperately deficient in. Given the somewhat random way that vitamins have been allocated letters, I have allocated this most essential vitamin to be called vitamin T. The reason for this name is the rich source of this vitamin is found in tea. (For a really good explanation of zen and tea, here.)

Now informed by this new discovery, I am pleased to announce the scientific facts* about this vitamin:

Vitamin name: Vitamin T

Recommended daily intake: Ideally, vitamin T is taken in on awakening, having a calm moment before the start of the day. During the day at selected intervals would also be good, and a final one at night before sleep.

Minimum daily intake: At the very least, once a day is the bare minimum intake for vitamin T.

Sources: The most common source of vitamin T is tea, which involves sitting down, switching off, and living in the now as you inhale the vapours of the freshly brewed tea. Unfortunately, quickly grabbing a cup of tea and sitting at your desk in front of a computer is not a good source of vitamin T, as it will not be absorbed. Similarly, grabbing a cup of coffee in the morning and racing out the door with a “heart-starter” is not only not a source of vitamin T, but is likely to put the body on a caffeine-sugar-burnout-caffeine-sugar-burnout treadmill that so many run on “just to get through the day”. And people wonder why they’re exhausted at the end of the day.

Tea is not the only source of vitamin T; a well-made cup of hot chocolate or even coffee if your taste runs to these things will suffice. In fact, just about anything eaten or drunk with mindfulness will suffice.

Meditation is also a brilliant source of vitamin T, and most definitely recommended in cases of vitamin T deficiency.

Symptoms of deficiency: There is a subtle but noticeable shift from cause to blame, and happiness no longer comes from within but is dependent on circumstances in the outside world. As a result, things tend towards a feeling of overwhelm, or as Abraham Hicks would put it, “outside the vortex” experiences.

Symptoms of overdose: A sense of calm, a happiness/joy/peace in whatever circumstances surround you; being “inside the vortex“.

So there. That’s vitamin T in a nutshell. I’m off to have a cup of tea right now!


*Okay, so they’re not entirely scientific facts. But what I’ve written makes some sense. 🙂