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How can I help you Thrive?  I'm Ellen Leonard, a huge nerd using my expertise in Ayurveda, Yoga, Positive Psychology, Stress Management and Health Coaching to help you achieve your health and wellness goals.  Be happier, be healthier.

Seeking the Sattva of Stuff

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The Best Self Wellness blog discusses ideas for you to be your best self.  Discover what health and wellness professionals are doing for their health and wellness through interviews and features.  Learn about exciting academic research in the heath and wellness fields.  And read about some of my experiments gone awry in and some ideas I have about the fields of Yoga, Ayurveda, Positive Psychology, and Stress Management. 

 

Seeking the Sattva of Stuff

Ellen Leonard

It’s something we never really talk about – the insane amount of stuff we’ve managed to accumulate over the years.  It’s ‘the junk drawer’ that drives us crazy, the secret closet that we wouldn’t dare to open for fear we would be crushed by stuff, or the guest bedroom that could never actually house a guest. 


Our house is full of dead people’s stuff.  I’m sorry to put it so bluntly, but it is…. My dead mom and grandma, his dead grandparents and partner.  Each item a ticking time-bomb of emotion and guilt and frustration and Tamas. Yup, I said Tamas.  As Dr. Frawley states, “From Tamas comes the ignorance that veils our true nature and weakens our power of perception,” (p.33).


That’s how I feel about the stuff in my house.  I feel it’s literal and metaphorical weight pressing on me – on my mind, my soul, my ability to breathe easily.  It blocks me from being able to perceive the world clearly.  It actively hinders my ability to live in a calm supportive Sattvic environment.  Dr. Lad states that, “Sattva is the pure essence of light, right action, and spiritual purpose,”(p.8).  It is also considered to be potential energy.  While I know that potential energy has a clear definition within the construct of the science of Physics, I can’t help but take that literally – that my fullest potential is limited by the crushing weight of my possessions.


So we are celebrating this 4th of July with a
‘freedom from stuff.’ 

We rented a dumpster. 


Yes, you can rent one of those.  We never thought we would have filled it, and yet we have.  Many trips to the Goodwill, many bags of items put aside for friends and family, and a full dumpster – all stuff that is no longer mine.


To frame it in terms of the Gunas, my familiar Ayurveda friends – the stuff in my home made me feel heavy and dull.  As I look out the window at the full dumpster I sincerely feel lighter.  The energy of the house has shifted, and my energy has shifted.  Keeping in mind that Dr. Frawley says, “From Rajas comes the false idea of the external world as real in itself, which causes us to seek happiness outside ourselves and lose track of our inner peace,” (p.33). 


If I am truly pursuing my highest Sattvic self and balance within my life, then this is one step forward on that path.  Am I renouncing possessions and going to live a minimal lifestyle – no, I still live in reality and love giant piles of books and collecting kitchen appliances that I rarely use – but it’s no longer going to be something that I will be distracted by. It won’t divert my attention away from the things that I want or love to do.  Much like the popular KonMari Method, the things in my home now are there for a reason and bring me joy.  Dr. Frawley states, “Pure Sattva does not condemn Rajas and Tamas, but understands their place in the cosmic harmony,” (p.33) – while I would never have thought of a dumpster as a place of cosmic harmony, I have placed the Rajasic items that I thought would bring me happiness and the Tamasic items that weighed on me. 

Do I wish that I wasn’t attached? 

Yes. 

But a dumpster’s worth of unattachments tells me
that I’m moving in the right direction. 

 

 

Dr. Frawley, Ayurveda and the Mind, Lotus Press: 1st Ed., 1997.

Dr. Lad, Textbook of Ayurveda, Volume 1; Ayurvedic Press: 1st Ed., 2001.