“Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want, but the realization of how much you already have.” ~ Anonymous
Hangers. For the last few months, after doing the laundry, I would stand at the threshold of my closet with clothes draped over my arm that required special treatment, dangled in a heap while I made a mental note to myself to add hangers to my list. Of course, the distance from my closet to my “to-do” list in the kitchen is a matter of several steps and a barrage of interrupting thoughts, so seldom did hangers ever get written on the list, and the few times it did I contemplated the available supply of hangers in the store with careful discernment. I didn’t like the way they were shaped or the flimsiness of the plastic, or the bright, purple color. Something would hold me back from spending $10 for 10 hangers, and I’d go home empty-handed. Of course, by then the hamper would be full, leaving an abundance of bare hangers just waiting to be dutifully employed.
To be fair, the lopsided rally between clothes and hangers had been building slowly. I’m usually pretty good about recycling or donating items I don’t use when I acquire new goods, but it was becoming more obvious each laundry day, that hangers were losing the battle. Once, in desperation, I went to the guest bedroom closet and stripped the rod of all the bare hangers, promising to return them “just as soon as I buy new ones.” It never happened.
On a side note, my husband and I own dry cleaning businesses in Iowa where hangers play a significant role. We buy them in bulk, in different sizes and for a variety of purposes. There are pant hangers and shirt hangers and skirt hangers and drapery hangers. We have caped hangers that say “We Love Our Customers,” and little magnetic hangers that stick to the refrigerator to keep our phone number at eye level. Maybe that’s why I have such a hard time buying hangers. I probably have a hanger “hangover” from overindulgence. But those hangers are in Iowa, and my clothes are here, so…
Then one day I looked at a dress that hung in my closet and I said to myself, I am never going to wear that again. I pulled it from the rod and stripped it of its hanger. I folded it neatly and laid it on the bed. Back into the closet I roamed. It was as if I was seeing the contents of this little space for the first time. With my eyes to the items I actually utilized, I began to sort out the clothes I always pass over; the pants that don’t fit and the skirt that’s too short and the blouse that hangs oddly in a color, too bright. I piled these items in neat little stacks that multiplied and grew. Each time I stepped into the closet, thinking I had purged every unnecessary garment, I would find some limp, acrylic sweater from 1995 that dared me to separate it from it’s claimed spot in my wardrobe.
As I scanned the enclosure one last time, I noticed a box marked “Boots” teetering high on a shelf. When was the last time I opened the lid on that container? And what about these assorted bags I don’t carry and those uncomfortable shoes stuffed back in the corner? Before long I had two Lawn and Leaf garbage bags and one large, cardboard box filled with former inhabitants of my closet. What freedom! My closet felt lighter and brighter and cleaner. The space had breathing room, and while my wardrobe options had been pared down, it was now a better reflection of what I actually utilized. My closet, in effect, had been yoga-ed.
Practicing yoga is very much like cleaning out the closet. It’s about exploring space and pinpointing obstructions. Yoga helps us to find a plane of balance between retaining with care what’s important and releasing with consideration what gets in the way. Practicing mindful breathing and sensory inquiry, we create uncluttered space in our mind and our body.
Today is laundry day, and as I stand at the threshold of the closet, with my delicate attire spilled over my arm I admire the abundance of empty hangers suspended in anticipation. I never needed more hangers. I only needed fewer clothes.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.