Vata You Aching For?

Time to write a blog post about routine.

My daughter’s new word is “aching,” as in the grocery store when she says, “Mommy, may I please have the bunny-shaped macaroni and cheese? I’ve been aching to have it!”

That leads me to ask myself, what am I aching for?

The answer is easy: I’m aching for routine. Organization. Predictability.

I picked up a book about Ayurveda from the library. I learned a bit about Ayurveda when I was in yoga teacher training back when my daughter was merely a twinkle in her father’s eye, but it never really made much sense to me. I can’t claim that it makes much sense to me right now, either, but one big thing stuck out at me during my reading.

Using my very rudimentary understanding of Ayurveda, I think I’ve determined that I have aggravated vata (with a pitta constitution, for you Ayurveda insiders). Vata can be triggered by uncertainty and lack of routine and long periods travel in enclosed spaces. Symptoms of aggravated vata include anxiety, edginess, and an inability to concentrate. Come to think of it, it’s possible I’ve had aggravated vata since I gave birth to my first child six years ago.

According to the book, one of the most important ways to get vata back in balance is to establish routines. Eat at the same times each day, exercise at the same times each day, go to bed and wake up at the same times each day. Routine is already appealing to me, and this Ayurvedic endorsement just makes it more enticing.

Trouble is, with kids routine is pretty difficult to come by. With kids during an interminably long move, it’s nearly impossible. But I think there are some changes I can make to encourage the kids and myself to get into some kind of rhythm, even before we’re finally settled into our house.

Giving myself permission to think about routines has opened the floodgates for my desire for organization. I look upon this move and this purchase of a new home as a chance for a fresh start. The idea of being bogged down by my possessions once again is just really depressing to me.

My friend Abigail has been blogging with a friend about her decluttering adventure on 2 Moms, 2 Boys, 2 Much Stuff. I’ve been impressed by her progress and her persistence. I’ve also been a little jealous that I have all kinds of stuff sitting in storage that I could be getting rid of right now. In today’s post, Abigail linked to another post on another blog that has a statement I found compelling:

They touched every single item they owned and asked this vital question: “Do I love it?” or “Would this belong in my dream house/dream life?” And if not, they let it go.

Reading this I realized a very exciting thing:

With this move I have an opportunity to handle every single item we own!

Whether I want to or not, it’s got to come out of the boxes, which means it’s almost certainly got to pass through my hands.

If I unpack an item I don’t love, I want to get it out of the house before it settles in. I want to unpack each box with two other boxes sitting to the side, one marked, “Give Away” and one marked “Throw Away.” I want to put away only those things we actively want to keep in our home. The other stuff, I want to escort out unceremoniously as quickly as possible.

Abigail mentions the technique of pulling everything out of a closet, putting things back in one by one, and when the closet looks done, it’s done.

This technique is built into our move, too!

Decluttering as I’m unpacking will likely take longer than just stashing stuff, but how can I let this opportunity slip by?

I don’t want to find places to stow crap. I want to surround myself with things that I love and use and feel good looking at. I want to easily open and close dresser drawers and maneuver clothes in the closet. I want my kids to be able to find the toys they love, play with them for hours, then spend five minutes cleaning them up.

Okay, that last one’s a bit of a long shot, but I dare to dream.

6 Replies to “Vata You Aching For?”

  1. Good idea! I haven’t been keeping up, so I don’t know if you’ve moved yet, but I think I’m going to use this too. I’m pretty ruthless in spurts, but maybe I just needed a better system, and the ‘dream house’ criterion will help get rid of sentimental things.

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  2. *lies down on the comment couch* (or is it lays? Too tired to remember)

    Clutter is complex for me. I have emotional ties to it. I accumulate when I feel the need for security and grounding. It weighs me down and stresses me when it is disorganized. I vacillate betwixt the two when my inner space is unbalanced. After I lost my daughter, I went through a giant purge in which freecyclers and charities (no pun) received thousands of dollars worth of things that I was driven to get rid of. I gave away too much and regret some of it. I’ve been clinging to much since out of fear of regret.

    So, yes, decluttering can be good. “Do I Love It?” Won’t work in my case because of the invisible strings the items pull.

    For a fairly detatched Yogi, I’ve got some good dirt to dig in here. Perhaps I’ll gain clarity (and open space) in time. For now, I’m working on being gentle and mindful of not judging myself for the slow process of letting go.

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    1. When I first read the DaVinci quote I used on this post, I thought it meant that the reason we have so much stuff is because we fear losing it. That’s what gave me the direction for this post. But then when I read it again a day later, I realized it could be read as, “If you have a lot of stuff, you have a lot to lose.”

      I still like the first reading better, and I think it fits best with my experience and what you’re talking about here. There is some interesting stuff about how we can identify with our possessions, and there are many reasons why we keep or toss out different things. As the daughter of a hoarder, I find I have both the anxiety of the loss of my possessions and the anxiety of having too many. I read in a book about hoarding once that those shows that go in and clean up a hoarder’s house are likely to just make the anxiety worse (hoarding is considered an anxiety disorder related to OCD). The sense of not having enough or somehow not being enough is internal and is just manifested in the person’s environment. If the person’s coping mechanism (their hoarded possessions/pets) are forcibly removed, that can really turn their internal world upside-down.

      Most of us wouldn’t be considered “hoarders,” but I think we’re likely to feel some of the same emotions attached to keeping and letting go of our possessions as hoarders do, just on a different scale.

      So, this is all a long way of saying I think it makes a lot of sense for all of us to be gentle with ourselves and de-clutter from the inside out.

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      1. Thank you for saying this. I have clutter. So I can understand the emotional strength “things” have over anyone and those with disorders. I think you’re right, going slowly and staying connected to feelings of safety will help.

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  3. Thanks for the links and the comment about my progress and persistence! I am trying not to let the groove go but also to not make my kids suffer. 😉

    I do think the forced assessment of stuff with a move has helped me not accumulate stuff in the past but now we haven’t moved in almost seven years and we had a baby during that time who is now, even though I am loathe to admit it at times, not a baby anymore and is certainly past the need for most baby items. I feel like both of those things have worked against me, clutterwise.

    Good luck going through it all!

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  4. There must be something in the air, because I’ve been bitten hugely by the decluttering bug. I’m wanting to purge half the stuff in our house, maybe more. There’s going to be some major organizing going on this week.

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