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  • Leela Kirloskar

Bringing in Simplicity

Oh do you have time

to linger

for just a little while

out of your busy

and very important day

for the goldfinches

that have gathered

in a field of thistles

for a musical battle,

to see who can sing

the highest note,

or the lowest,

or the most expressive of mirth,

or the most tender?

~ Invitation, Mary Oliver

Simplicity is the gift of what feels like an impossibly slow week. Mid-April in Bangalore this year is hot and humid, thankfully interspersed with thunderstorms, a cycle that brings partial relief until the air turns heavy with moisture again. Today is one of those days, the butterflies spinning lazily, the birds warbling, all of us waiting for the rain. My movement practices mirror the energy, tai chi and yoga taking slow, stretched space in the mornings. I choose a purple pen to write my morning pages, just to see the richness of colour in my otherwise plain journal. A client told me yesterday how she’s taken a day off, just to do nothing, embracing a quiet day with her son at home. The simplicity of it brings her joy and I smile and nod, feeling connected to her mood. So when I open up this page to write today, simplicity is the gift that I hope to bring in to this post. Simplicity is a gentle invitation to let go of the clutter and feel into the moment, follow the thread your heart is tugging you towards, to experience the clarity and spaciousness it brings. Life’s complexity can often overwhelm; simplicity is the other side of that coin. And it’s something we can always choose to help bring back balance.

In choosing simplicity, we bring in a lightly held awareness that helps to create the space to notice what matters. For me, it sometimes looks like gently blowing an ant off my book so that it can join its gang climbing up the verandah pillar, or spending a Saturday morning baking a fresh lemon butter cake rippled through with the sweetness of blueberries, or scheduling my calendar so that I have enough time between coaching sessions to take notes, drink a cup of tea before pivoting to the next client so that I can be fully present, or cleaning out a cupboard that’s been begging for attention. Whether it’s a task, a process, a thought, or a relationship, simplicity offers a clean sort of ease. But you have to choose it. Some of the principles of simplicity will come from your own life; the others I list here, from mine:

  1. Find the ease in your life and you’ll find that simplicity goes hand in hand with it. When there’s difficulty in the shape of resistance, drama, stuckness, ask what do you need to untangle or let go of? Slow down to find it. 

  2. Bring in the small things that give you joy; this morning for me, it’s a small piece of my mother’s pure ghee shortbread with my coffee that fills my being. What are the small things that fill yours? They’ll be in the shape of small treats, small pleasures, small, simple ways that bring a pause, a smile, a sigh. 

  3. Work with your hands at least once a week; feel the healing energy of the earth as you pot a plant, in the soft suppleness of flour as you knead or bake, in the shape of fruit or vegetables as you slice or peel them, or write with a pen on paper, clean a cupboard, groom your pet, discover what it’s like to have your hands touch different surfaces, textures, shapes, temperatures.

  4. Embrace the quiet; for simplicity needs silence, solitude and space. It sometimes also needs music 🙂

  5. Make time for stillness, a little, every day. Life becomes fairly simple when you do. 

  6. Remind yourself why it’s important every now and then and you’ll see how it becomes a value that guides you. 

Peace is the outcome, if you’re wondering where this goes. As we ease into the weekend, do what you need to, to give yourself a big dose of that. Keep it simple.

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