Does having a home make you materialistic?
As I stop travelling, unpack my bag and take the current step of applying for a visa to stay in a country as my new ‘home’ I notice old feelings - the ‘need’ to purchase items that make me smile. It prompts me to re-examine my relationship with ownership and materialistic possessions.
The concept of ‘ownership’
In the West we are obsessed with owning stuff, especially houses. We each deserve the right to have our own space that we own alone or with someone that we love. However, this has led to issues with shortages on space and facilities for everyone.
As I sold my home in the UK I was adamant that our Western approach to home ownership with huge mortgages seemed backwards. I had learnt a strong lesson from this purchase - I paid all the deposit for my adorable seaside house in 2012 just before my marriage fell apart. Due to a variety of very sad health events for both he and I, my ex-husband lived in the house for 5 years after I left him. I had a massive mortgage and, as it turned out, no home of my own to live in when I was unemployed and too sick to work.
What is that prompts you to buy something?
Owning a home taught me a lot of harsh money lessons, especially about foolish decisions that we make for someone we love. However, my lessons also revealed to me the underlying energy that we put into ownership. In the Energy Exchange of Possessions blog post about a car boot sale, I mentioned that material things hold the energy that we purchase them with – a home is the same. Buying a house for me had been to save a failing relationship – not the right energy.
Always ask yourself:
When you purchase something what is the underlying emotion?
Is it hiding something else?
What is your true motivation?
What are you attached to in this purchase?
Attachment to buying a teapot
I often talk about how to make an altar to my clients – the place that wherever you go is your reminder to check-in with you. Of all the things I prioritise to purchase in my new home, it is a teapot. But did I buy it as a piece of decoration or something else?
As I happily set my teapot up I have that feeling of settling come over me. I ponder, is my clearly unnecessary ‘need’ constructed to justify spending and buying into commercialism again? Is my next step purchasing another pair of Lululemon leggings?
I did not travel with a teapot for almost 2 years so I know it is not my altar. But when I left my husband and my last partner the key possessions always included my teapots, along with clothes, books and fitness equipment.
My attachment to the purchase of a teapot makes me feel cozy and centred. It is a home comfort and rooting down into a space for the longer-term.
Attachment leads to Suffering
I recall the realisation of attachment so clearly. In under a year I had seen my marriage, house, legal career, new flat, health, ability to work, emotional stability, money - old and new lives all vanish thanks to my head injury. All that I ‘had’ I had never ‘had’. I never ‘owned’ anything.
Everything in life is momentary.
It all passes and never stays.
You are born and die in your body alone, and even that does not travel with your soul after death.
Nothing is to keep – not even feelings or thoughts.
This is the Buddhist lesson of ‘non-attachment’. Always, be ready to say farewell to all that you have.
I can say farewell to my teapot. The attachment I know is superficial. But ethically my non-attachment meets moderation and wastefulness.
To keep a modest home
I like nice things. I enjoy industrial design especially – that art meets function is so fascinating to me. I loved shopping. It was one of my depression fillers. It is easy to fill your life with stuff, activities and to dos – but it is not easy to wisely choose what to fill up with. To make it soul full is an active process.
Living out of my one rucksack has enhanced the lesson of moderation or the yama brahmacharya in yoga as part of my healing (as discussed in this blog post). With limited space I chose more carefully what I could carry and had proper use with me.
Back in a flat and there is space to fill. I do not want to buy into unnecessary ‘needs’ and fall into those old habits. I want a modest home of quality multi-functional pieces that welcome others with love and to share.
I have blogged and talked about rituals to define moments in the day of connection. I recall one of my best friend’s studying the ritual of Japanese tea making and attending her ceremony - all those lessons of present moment, detailed processes, connection and profound magic of it all. I am English and perhaps tea holds something ritualistic for me containing the qualities of a ritual I discussed here.
When I purchase something I consider:
Can it be shared with others?
What communal connection can this create?
Can this item provide a variety of experiences?
Could it be resold, reused or repurposed if I change my mind about possessing it?
Does it contribute to a ritual within my life and way of sharing with others?
Living in non-attachment and non-waste
I want my home space, the ground and building to be full of love and a joyful soul that deepens our present life connection. A sacred space.
I am drawn to ‘tribal’ concept communities where each may have a hut for several to share, but there is also communal cooking and sharing of facilities. Whatever the mechanics and details of such set-up might vary, but what is important is the values and ethics at its foundations. This is my future.
Sharing is caring because it connects us, it is open, invites another into our space, we can feel vulnerable, humbled and honoured in sharing a home space with another. I want a home that is shared, welcomes and brings others to enjoy it.
Variety is the spice of life because it keeps the brain alive, shifts perspectives and builds understanding between people when we spend time with a greater variety of people.
Help me build this community. Not a retreat centre, but a community or tribe.
Those like-minded souls who will form a tribe somewhere in the world. I am in Australia, I love Hawaii, Sri Lanka is amazing, Spain and Costa Rica make me dance – but there is so much I have not yet walked on earth.