Minimalism

I struggled with whether I would post this, as it made me question the scope of my blog. However to me spirituality isn’t something you set time aside for every day or once a week, you live and breathe it in every moment. Minimalism went hand in hand with the realisation that everything is within me and I need not seek out of myself to gain anything. That realisation made me realise I was trying to fill the void I felt, in part with material possessions.

Now I am not saying that material possessions are bad, by all means enjoy your luxuries, enjoy the physical and material things the world has to offer, but do it consciously.

Minimalism is a topic I have been exploring and living for quite some time. I wasn’t aware it had a title until a friend suggested I watch the documentary – The Minimalists, a documentary about the important things. In fact, that is how I welcomed in 2017. While everyone was out partying on new years eve, I watched the documentary – twice. These people were speaking my language, they were articulating everything I had been feeling for the past year. I was surrounded by people who didn’t get it, but these people got it.

I felt it necessary to write this, as the idea that minimalism is something that is only for well to do, upper middle class people seems to crop up quite often. Indeed, I have read many articles written by wealthy people who decided to step off the consumerism band wagon. I applaud them too, but what about those who have no claim to wealth or 6 figure incomes?

What if you got yourself through a university degree partly working in cafes with stints of unemployment, only to graduate and decide to make coffee full time for a year because you were burnt out? And then decide the following years to make 3 overseas trips on very little money.

Was I a minimalist when I was a poor student? The answer is a definite no, not even a forced minimalist at that. Rent took up half of my meagre weekly income, but it didn’t stop me from accumulating things. I became the master thrift shopper and I stuffed my little unit to the brim with useless items – kitchenware, clothes, trinkets, cushions, books. I didn’t need three quarters of it and although it cost very little, I certainly could have kept that $2 here and $5 there for experiences I often missed out on as a result of having no money.

I went through a weird phase of discontent after my third overseas trip. I feel in part that it was because I had been exposed in Europe, to a kind of wealth I did not realise existed. Backpacking on a budget, I was on the outer looking in and it stirred a sense of lack. At the same time I was exposed to a level of poverty I had never experienced either – tent cities and an overwhelming amount of people begging for money in the streets.

I came home torn. Angry at the massive gap between rich and poor, mixed with a sense of material lack in my own life. All of a sudden my second hand furniture I had accumulated as a student and was still using looked shabby to me. “I’m almost 30 and I am still living in a house filled with furniture from my university days?? I deserve nice things”. My mind whirled. It’s a weird thing, this age marker we put on things. I am this age, therefore I should own these things and have this much in the bank…who made that rule?

I decided to go out furniture shopping and it was an eye opening experience. Cheap and flimsy furniture for ridiculous amounts of money. I saw first hand the throw away culture we now live in. There is no way what I saw would have lasted beyond 5 years, but it was trendy, so it had a price tag to match. Which is apparently okay, because people will update in 5 years anyway. I had my mums words of wisdom in the back of my head – words from a woman who grew up in a poor family. “Always buy quality, even if it takes longer to save up for and you can only afford one. It will save you money in the long run”. I went home.

This sparked a period of deep reflection. There was a discontent that I couldn’t quite place. I wanted nice things. For the first time in my life, I actually felt like a lesser being because I didn’t have “all the nice things”. This was conflicting with the fact that I was (and still am) also a passionate advocate for the environment and the negative effects of over consumption. Then there was a deeper level, the fact that when I am true to myself, I have always been somewhat of a natures child, who requires very little and is content with earth under her feet over fancy shoes. So why was this coming up at all?

Perhaps it was the comments of a wealthy visitor that came to my house. Upon arrival she walked in the front door and took in my combined living and kitchen area. “Oh.” She said. “I guess this is all you need”. It’s funny now when I look back, because she was right. This is all I need – if anything it was more than I needed and I have gotten rid of a lot of my possessions since. The tone of her voice though, was almost as if I were living in some kind of hovel or tent.

Or perhaps it was the accumulation of being treated as inferior in my work environment by wealthy people.

Whatever the reason, this saw 2016 as the year of my reading rampage. I read books such as “Not Buying It” by Judith Levine, “The Moneyless Man” by Mark Boyle and “Walden” by Thoreau. Anything that questioned the status quo, consumerism and what makes a “successful” life.

I observed that when I was a poor student, there was a sense of security in collecting things, be that clothes to kitchenware. It made me feel safe. I’m not entirely sure why, but it was almost like storing up for the winter. When the global financial crisis hit and the cafe I was doing weekend work in shut down, the winter had come.

However, did my little unit busting at the seams with excess clothes, books, trinkets and kitchenware help me weather that? No.

Christmas time 2016 rolled around, a year of deep contemplation, reflection and reading and we were heading into one of the most consumeristic times of the year. I saw all of it with new eyes. By that time, I had come to the realisation that it was all within me. I needed nothing outside of myself. This realisation had me overwhelmed by the abundance in my life and the abundance I was surrounded by. I would tear up with gratitude quite often (and still do).

The desperation, the scrambling to fill up trolleys with useless stuff, the anger and erratic behaviour of the general public on the roads and in shopping centres. Listening to friends dismay at not being able to afford Christmas or relying on credit cards. It actually made me feel physically ill. And then New Years Eve with The Minimalists, I wasn’t crazy.

So no. Minimalism isn’t a luxury of the wealthy. Consumerism is so ingrained in our modern culture that we don’t realise we are doing it. Even as a person who has lived without a TV for 7 years, it seeped in. We are sent a steady stream of messages from advertisers and as an extension, from the people who allow themselves to be brainwashed, that we need to keep buying – even if that meant on my student income it was in thrift stores.

I am still living in a house full of second hand furniture from my university days. It’s old yes, but it is good quality solid timber, the kind that you can sand back and touch up as needed until you’re in a nursing home.

I AM all I need. As are you.

~ Fox Robin

 

Photo by Jake Melara on Unsplash

The disease of the spiritual entrepreneur.

This post was inspired by a phone conversation I had with a good friend recently. She is on an adventure overseas to find herself, to find her feet on this crazy planet we live on and to find her calling. She was distressed when she called, nothing was clicking, nothing was igniting her passion, nothing was doing “it” for her. She felt lost.

I suggested that perhaps she just needed to accept that is where she is right now and just be with it. She disagreed, she felt she had been stagnant and waiting for too long. I understand this feeling, I have been through it many times, until my realisation.

Then she began talking about my life – why don’t you do this or that? You shouldn’t still be doing these other things. At the time I was kind of taken aback, I wasn’t sure how to respond. I said that I was content, even if my life wasn’t “perfect”. This position was not accepted. I said that I had spirit’s backing, that I was doing everything in alignment with their advice. “Geez, spirit are putting you through a lot”. They’re not really putting me through anything, they are offering advice and I am listening. I was kind of at a loss for words, on the one hand I felt a need to defend my position, on the other I felt no need at all. I am content, is that not enough?

The phone conversation ended and I went back to gluing a Magneto costume together I was making for a party. She struck a cord though, she got me thinking and feeling.

There is a certain theme I have noticed in the spiritual community at large. It is this idea that in order to be a fully realised spiritual being, for some reason you need to be an entrepreneur. For some reason you need to make a livelihood out of being “spiritual”. That can look like anything really, from being a life coach to a yoga teacher. It might also involve getting involved in certain altruistic pursuits such as volunteer work, or you might go the other way and becoming an eccentric artist or musician.

There are a lot of preconceived ideas over what a “spiritual” person does, acts and looks like. They have to have a certain type of vocation, live in and travel to certain locations, eat certain ways…the list goes on. When you think about it, it is a lot of pressure.

It is as if all these things have become a prerequisite. I cannot be content or find enlightenment or find healing until I have checked off everything on the spiritual prerequisite list. The concept that is often missed, is that the list can and does go on forever because you’ll never get there following these pursuits. You won’t get there following any external activity.

I often joke that I incarnated for dark chocolate, coffee and heavy metal. And a lot of people often look at me in this funny way – you don’t fit the mould. How can you be a “spiritual” person and then enjoy a number of “contradictory” things. But truly, there is no mould and putting yourself into a box is just a denial of you.

Perhaps this comes from the “follow your heart” preaching, but why does following your heart always seem to end up in having to make money out of it? If I were to truly follow my heart as is often preached and money was not an issue, then I would be an ecstatic wanderer in the wilderness. I’d go hiking every day and camp for weeks on end.

This is usually the part where I am told I just need to work on my manifesting, perhaps make a vision board, really get into those affirmations. Or, I could just be content with where I am now, I could accept that hiking is a weekend and holiday activity and just see how life unfolds. Because as I have often learned what my head wants and what my soul wants are often two completely different things. I would rather be in a state of openness and see what life can surprise me with.

When I started all of this “spiritual journey” business as a teenager, there were two concepts that really stuck with me; “Know thyself” and the concept that the shaman path was a lonely one. I know not everyone walks the shaman path, but this is what spirit had pulled me into. I bring this up because when I look at these concepts, what screams at me is – this is an inner journey.

I reflect now and all of a sudden it seems this spiritual journey business has turned into an outer one. Perhaps it is a sign of the times, where social media is driving a constant quest for more and the projection of the “perfect” life. Humans have always had a certain level of discontent, I guess that is what strives us forward on these kind of quests.

It would have been that drive that would have found individuals retreating to mountains, caves, temples and monasteries back in the day. Modern life has added a twist and I know this comes from a thirst for integration with the push from the new energies coming to Earth.

I often think of Socrates from Way of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman. An enlightened being working in a gas station. What a contradiction to all the preconceived notions we are fed about what a spiritual being does and looks like.

Freedom lies ultimately in knowing that it does not matter. It is all you. It is all sacred, it is all a reflection of the divine. As St. Germain often says in our channeling evenings – “leave yourselves alone”. You do not need to be or do anything. Relax. You are God.

 

My mistake on presence.

When I was a teenager, in my quest to answer the ultimate question – why am I not happy? I went on a reading rampage.

Fortunately at the time I worked in a second hand book shop and the owner had a preference for new age, self help and spiritual books. So often I would find myself standing behind the counter facing a wall of these sorts of books.

I read many books on affirmations, attracting the life you want and the power of your mind etc. And then a book dropped into my sphere. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle. It was the first time I had been introduced to the concept of mindfulness and being in the present moment. It changed my life.

But here enters my mistake. I had read so many books about the power of the mind and affirmations, I was completely convinced that it was only okay to have “good” thoughts and “good” emotions. That anything else may lead to cataclysmic events or at the very least demonstrate what an unevolved and unspiritual person I was.

I started practising mindfulness…with a twist. I was completely present, it took a lot of practice at first, constantly guiding my mind back to the present moment. It became second nature to me after a while though.

My mistake however, was a rigid control of the mind. At any point I noticed a negative thought or emotion enter the present, I would talk myself out of it. And in a strange way, I hypnotised myself into this place of what I can only describe as ecstasy. Negative emotions did not exist in the reality I created, they didn’t have a place. I kept this up for a good 3 months. And then it all came crashing down spectacularly.

What I missed was the concept of neutrality. The state I was living in was not real. The state I was living in was a complete disregard to the entire spectrum that makes up my being. To practice true mindfulness, one must accept everything that comes into their space with open arms. It doesn’t mean you must like it or approve of it, but you accept it is there. That is the world of duality we live in, without “good” you cannot have “bad”. It can be likened to the yin and the yang. When you are mindful, you experience the now moment fully, but you do not identify with it. That is the difference and that was the mistake I made.

Happiness is not an end game. You can be completely content in the space of neutrality with “negative” emotions whirling around you. That is the complexity of our being, you can experience numerous conflicting or paradoxical things at once.

Often the new age movement will tell you that happiness and positivity is your goal, that if you are having negative thoughts or emotions then you are doing it “wrong”. The power of the mind is often preached with such fervour, that they often forget the one who sits behind the mind, the observer.

I invite everyone to take a step back, to really take in what is around them in this present moment and to witness it and welcome it in the space of neutrality and see what transforms.

~ Fox Robin

What’s going on?

The most common question I get asked by both clients and people I encounter in my day to day life is – “What is going on?”

It has been a common theme for quite some time now, when I get them to explain further I am given a list of experiences ranging from anxiety, depression, feeling out of body or the world not feeling quite “real”, feeling lacklustre, feeling like they are going “crazy”, not feeling comfortable in their skin, not relating to their life and old ways of doing things not quite working any more, or hitting the mark like they used to.

I hear the story over and over again. So what exactly is going on?

We are at a turning point on the planet. No other time on the planet has been like this. We as a collective have asked that we wake up now, that we come back to ourselves – to come to know the I AM.

The easiest way to describe it, is that we are as a collective and on individual levels are shedding our skin. We have been living in a collective illusion for thousands of years now and many of us have been repeating patterns of this illusion for lifetimes. Incarnation after incarnation, we go on repeat. Now the vibration of the planet is rising and it is shaking up those patterns. This is in alignment with our higher selves.

Nothing outside of yourself can make you awaken, that is an individual choice. The human side of yourself however finds fear in this. How can I exist if I do not cling to what I feel makes up “me”?

This is a challenging part of the awakening process and St. Germain often describes it to me as “personality collecting”. The story can go something like this; my career, my clothes, my family, my friends, my past experiences, the entertainment I enjoy (music, books, film etc.), how I decorate my home, the car I drive, are all puzzle pieces that make up who I am.

Now when you buy into this story, that all of these external factors are the sum of who you are, when the energetic wake up call comes knocking at your door, your human self panics and generally as a result clings even tighter to the personality you have created.

Now creation is an important point here. You are the creator. Remember that at all times. If you can create one personality, you can create others. You are vast multidimensional beings and this way of viewing yourself, as a singular personality built on ones surrounding circumstances, is very limiting.

Generally anxiety gives way to lacklustre or a feeling of depression, because as you continue to cling to the external that you feel gives you a sense of being, you find that those external circumstances or activities of objects simply do not give you the same feeling they once did. You might be someone that identifies as being a “book person” someone that loves reading, your personality may very well be built on this. In your state, you might decide that reading will cheer you up, only to find that it does nothing for you.

This is perfect. This is your higher self and the new energies on the planet scratching away at the surface, saying “look deeper”. In these times I often say to people, that this is completely okay and instead of fighting it, to surrender. Accept that you do not know who you are any more, accept that the world and life feels “unreal” and just as a snake accepts the shedding of its skin as a natural process, embrace the changes occurring. Let them happen and gracefully allow the unveiling of who you actually are to occur.

You’re not going crazy, you are remembering who you are.

~ Fox Robin

The Little Things

So often we speak of appreciating the “little things”…but then are they small at all? Are not the “small things” in our life that which surmount to the big things?

On the weekend, I did my usual Sunday ritual of going to the farmers markets followed by a coffee at a nearby cafe. It struck me as I was sipping my coffee and looking at my basket of vegetables, just how lucky I am to have such abundance so readily available to me. I had spent the morning listening to the farmers stories of the floods that have impacted their communities. And once again I was reminded of the fragility of life and the lives we build.

It drove home how easily we take for granted those “little things”. A belly full of food, clothes on our back, a roof over our heads, friendship, love. So often we get caught up in the rat race. That consumer driven culture that says more is more and if you’re miserable or feel empty, just buy more. And hey, while you’re at it, if you’re happy and celebrating, why not go out and celebrate by buying even more. While we are being told to make sure we keep up with the latest trends and fashions. Throw in this constant message that we have to keep achieving bigger and better things, bigger promotions, successes, titles, pay checks.

We have been programmed to not realise the concept of enough. We get so caught up in an illusory end game, that we push aside and take for granted that which really matters. We would not get far in life without food, shelter, love and friendship for very long.

It is okay to slow down. It is okay to take a breath and a step back. Take time to nurture the “little things” and soon you begin to realise they are in fact the big things in life. To appreciate that which sustains our existence here is to appreciate and celebrate being born at all. Soon those insurmountable “big things” begin to shrink – job stress, what so and so thinks of me, I can’t afford the latest *insert shiny here*. Are you fed, clothed, sheltered and loved…do you love yourself? If you are, then you are blessed. Celebrate what you do have and life will fall into place.

~ Fox Robin

Beginnings

It has been hard to write my first official blog post for this site. How do I encompass everything I wish to speak of? I don’t want this to be another spiritual site, I want it to be relatable. I want it to be grounded – well as grounded as someone who communes with spirit and nature can be. The bottom line is, I want it to be real. We came here for the human experience, so including articles about every day life and traversing the human experience is important to me and I am sure, would be appreciated by others.

I know many times in my life I have sought for solid and grounded advice, or have just sought out others who are having the same experience, only to be disappointed. It is all the same – have positive thoughts! White light the hell out of everything and if things are going “wrong” then obviously you’re doing it “wrong”. But what is “wrong” really? And who came up with the idea that when life gets tough it is because you are not a spiritually evolved being? This is a place where you can put down your affirmations and get real. What is reality anyway?

I have come to understand that peace and stillness is present in every moment, the question is, how present are you?

In the midst of chaos, can you know peace? Can you be conscious of your so called “negative thoughts and emotions” and be with them instead of fight them? And in the same vein, be with your positive thoughts and emotions; experience them and not have that fear that it won’t last. Peace is full acceptance of any given moment.

To deny any part of yourself or your life, is to deny the full spectrum that is existence. As my guides often say to me – they are all notes in the song of the universe. They all have their beauty.

I also seek to share my deep connection with both spirit and with nature and delve into the weird and wonderful worlds that we are so often conditioned by society to believe do not exist.

Here we can be ourselves. And with that, I welcome you all to my blog. Let us all have a conscious human experience.

~ Fox Robin