Lessons in Becoming Less Attached to ‘Things’.


I have always wanted to be surrounded by beauty. By beautiful things especially. I like interior design. I have always been attracted to rich ethnic prints and deep wall colours. I like each room in a house to have its own theme and ambiance. I have been craving a ‘place of my own’ for a long time. Since my late teens I have only ever lived in rented accommodation – but sometimes for years on end, during which time I accumulated a lot of things. I painted and decorated and bought and arranged. And more often than not took a deep sense of pride in my home. More recently, in the last house I lived in, I went through the dark night of my soul. I had been hating that house for a while, for various reasons. They do say the state of your house can be reflective of the state of your mind and in this case, I had fallen out with myself and given up on the beauty. Part of my healing was to clear the house of clutter and to fill it with love, my bedroom in this house especially became a sacred space for me, with my altar, my vision board, and my feng shuied love corner.  I also have a large collection of books and beautiful paintings which give me so much pleasure, and as an academic books are vital to my profession.

Six months ago however, I made the decision to give up this house and to move in with my parents for a temporary period. I got rid of so much stuff. It was epic. We must have made at least 20 visits to the local recycling and waste amenity. It was like a purging of everything I had accumulated. Of course I kept my paintings and books, and some key items of furniture. But really, myself and my two children moved into my parents with a van load between us. It was a huge exercise in down sizing.

I now find myself in a situation where I am between homes, between countries. I have a room and a desk and books and my computer, but I hardly know where a lot of my ‘things’ are and I have no house to call my own. I have no rooms, living rooms, bedrooms, to fill up, to decorate to invest in. This is coming. It’s in the pipeline. Indeed, two houses may be in the pipeline. In two very different countries, but they will both be my home.

While I am looking forward to nesting again, and filling my homes with beautiful things, these past six months have been a huge lesson in letting go of attachment to ‘things’. I have felt displaced and at sea on occasion, even mildly panicked that I am not grounded and rooted in a particular dwelling. But each time I try to root down to my sense of belonging to the earth, the planet, the universe, rather than a specific house or country even. I felt a huge sense of liberation when I left my long term house six months ago, I felt freer than ever. And at times I still do. It may sound like a cliché  but the world is my home and it’s more to do with the sun and the sea and the particular light on a particular evening, and the people I love, than a house, than any ‘thing’.

photo taken by Ellen

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Dr. Ellen Anne Burns is an actress, writer, mother, teacher, and student, not necessarily in that order. She was brought up in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She is a Doctor of Applied Theatre. She believes in a holistic spiritual practice, involving meditation, self love and discovery, learning and practicing forgiveness, gratitude and love every day. Ellen wishes to support and guide others on their own journey of self and love. She is a mentor on Gabrielle Bernstein’s-HerFuture.com and is thrilled to be one of the founding members of The Daily Sisterhood Blog. If you wish to contact Ellen please message her here, and she will respond as soon as she can.

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