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White Walls & Sequin Dress Dance Parties: My Quest to Embrace Less and Live

By Emily Berkey

Why did I choose minimalism? I want Shamata—perfect stillness. I want to be closer to God.

This whole process started first for me mentally–a year ago while listening to a Rob Bell podcast where he interviewed a minimalist. Immediately, I was bitten. You know that feeling of coming home after a long vacation and smelling all the familiar concoction of smells that make your house your home,  or seeing your puppy’s sweet face when you walk through the door after a long hard day at work? It felt that happy and that right to my soul.

Turns out, there are tons of benefits to minimalism other than walking hand-in-hand with the almighty. I save money. I spend less time cleaning which opens more opportunities for adventure and spending time making memories with loved ones.  I make more ethical environmental and socially responsible choices when it comes to consuming which helps our planet and all my brothers and sisters. This way of life supports almost everything I care so much about. Alanis Morsette said recently in an interview with Oprah that she wants to get to the essence of things— “to get to the bottom where there is no lie left”. Her words resonate with me. I too have a desire to cut through all the bullshit, fluff and useless throw pillows of life and get to truth—God, and minimalism helps me get answers. I’m a seeker, and I want answers through direct experience with the divine using various practices like meditation, yoga, and just good ol’ fashion paying attention.

A couple months ago I was sitting through a yoga teacher training weekend where my teacher, Reema Datta was talking about getting to a place of peace—shamata, because in this peaceful state we are most attune to divine wisdom. For me, peace cannot be found in a dirty or cluttered house. Whatever the antithesis of shamata is, was my house. Almost every room in my house was painted a different bold color, and I would spend one weekend day a week cleaning to get my house to a somewhat organized and relaxing state. I was sick of it. I’m sure Buddha or Jesus Christ could have meditated amongst my piles of laundry strung all over every piece of furniture I owned, but for me, I needed all the distractions gone. While listening to my teacher talk about this place of perfect stillness I could not shake the image of my house being empty with clean white walls. Just the idea brought me peace, so I did it.

The criteria for deciding what stays and what goes was simple:

Do I need this?

Do I love this?

Does this inspire me?

Does this bring me joy?

I got rid of almost everything that was in my old room, and when I say this, I mean I kept my bed, and that’s it. I let go of about 80% of my stuff. My closet was the hardest part. I tried on sequin dresses and danced all over the place as I eliminated all the excess noise and nonsense. More than anything I want clarity, truth, and intention in every area of my life, including the spaces in my home.

Honestly, it was exhausting and heart wrenching when I made the realization that most of the stuff I allowed to take-up precious space in my home were not even liked, let alone loved.

What I’ve learned in my first couple months of minimalism—letting the excess go was easy, being comfortable in the emptiness is terrifying and exciting all at the same time. I’m still mentally processing it all.

My mind is far more polluted than I thought, and I’ve been literally arguing out loud with myself over my newly empty, white-walled bedroom for a week. Turns out, most of the stuff I owned was a waste of space, literally and figuratively. How did I get myself in this situation you ask? I haven’t the foggiest idea. Welcome to minimalism where you start questioning things you never thought about before. I was overjoyed and overwhelmed by the stillness of the empty floors and stark white walls. I quickly began to drown in the vastness of possibilities. There was space for enlightenment to happen but the silence was deafening.

I began to visually build how I wanted my new bedroom to be. I used online shopping to ease my anxiety of emptiness. I lusted over all the beautiful items I needed for the space where I sleep, read, and cuddle my two boys. Comforters, lamps, wall hooks, rugs, art, and shelving were all I thought about for two days…Then I suddenly stopped everything.

I recognized and allowed myself to feel the emotions that seemed to take me over, the result of the vastness of the unknown. I needed to feel it. It was like I got smacked in the face with an all mighty truth stick—ZAP! I realized that although I had completed the physical labor needed to embrace minimalism, I still had the spiritual labor to change the way I view possessions.  I reverted to doing the exact same thing that got me into this mess in the first place. I was filling up space just to fill up space. I stopped everything and gave myself a proverbial bitch slap and accompanying pep talk:

“Sit down restlessness, and shut your mouth anxiety!  Listen-up. Fuck, Emily! No you don’t need a cute new $80.00 rug from Urban Outfitters for your room. We have gone over this! Have you learned nothing?! We only buy things that serve an actual meaningful purpose. You, miss, ‘I love the way my feet feel hitting the hardwood in the mornings’, don’t need a decorative rug to rob you of this life joy just because it’s available, or because other people have a bedroom rug and possibly find value in it. You don’t, so stop! Are you even trying?!”

Two weeks in and I was reverting right back into old patterns, BUT this time, I caught myself and stopped. This is sweet and empowering. Awareness to a problem is the first step to dealing with a problem. This is growth and this is minimalism. Can I find peace, contentment, and happiness in material emptiness?

To live with intention, is to live in divinity. I want Shamata—perfect stillness. I want to be closer to God. I too want “to get to the bottom where there is no lie left”.

The goal is to be still and find perfect stillness in the emptiness where all things are possible. Instead of rushing around trying to fill in the voids or trying to find all the answers to comfort my vulnerable restless soul, I’m just going to be.

If you need me, I’ll be in my room… white walls and all.

 

My name is Emily Berkey, and I’m a passionate seeker of truth and love. I’m here experiencing this gift of life by having adventures that push me off comfort zone cliffs. I love sharing the ideas, themes, and thoughts that have induced wonder and awe within myself in hopes to inspire and help others get radically excited about life. Most importantly, I am. Follow me on Instagram @e.berkey

 

Photography by Sarah McAlexander, you can see more of her work  @smcx on Instagram.

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