A Lesson in Simplicity


Before I came to Costa Rica, I was attempting to simplify my life by eliminating that which I don’t need, and reducing my consumerism and consumption. The past two weeks have been a great lesson in simplicity. In Nosara I stayed in a studio condo with a basic kitchen (two burners, sink, fridge and a few basic appliances), a bed, bathroom and futon. The most challenging aspect was the lack of running water. Due to the lack of infrastructure to support the fast growth of Playa Giones in Nosara, and changing climate (more heat, less rain) there is not enough water to go around. The water for the house came on at 8:00 AM every day and ran until the tank was empty – usually around 4:00 PM.

At first I thought it was a problem of a burst pipe near the house, and that it would be fixed within a day. Then I learned that it would be like this during my entire stay and affects the entire area. All of the homes in that section of Nosara had similar water restrictions. Initially I was annoyed by the situation given I had paid a fair amount in rent for my two-week stay. However, within a few days, I grew accustomed to filling my water jugs each day to ensure I had enough water on hand to get me through the hours of the day that there was no running water – enough to do dishes, wash up, brush my teeth and flush the toilet

It turned out to be a good lesson in conservation. Every drop of water is precious, and it made me careful not to waste this resource that many of us take for granted. I also have a lot more appreciation and gratitude for when the water is running. On top of that, I have been forced to slow down when doing simple tasks such as washing the dishes or cleaning my clothes.

One of the books that I brought with me on this trip, The Essential Yoga Sutra by Geshe Michael Roach and Christie McNally, translates Yoga Sutra I.15 “Drishta-anushrarika vishaya vitirshasya vashikara sanjnya vairagyam” as “giving up your attachments consists of the decision to gain control over your craving for experiences, seen or only heard of.” The authors go on to further explain this sutra saying “you will no longer have time for meaningless distractions of life when you are pursuing the yogic path to Samadhi. You must simplify your life to concentrate on what’s important…no more time to waste on newspapers and television to hear about how others wasted their time.”

It was perfect timing for me to read this sutra while in the process of simplifying so that I can better enjoy my life without worrying so much about maintaining “stuff” that clutters my space and my mind. I might be far from enlightened, but I can take this visit to Costa Rica, and the challenge of living without running water, to practice simplicity and non-attachment as a stepping-stone on the journey to Samadhi.


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