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Less is More

For these autumnal days, I would like to share with you some inputs I got from an article by Kate Yoder about subtraction (1).
We all know this pearl of wisdom saying “less is more”. However, I guess we can all experience how difficult can be to apply this in our life. Think about how we easily tend to do more, to buy more, to have more, to need more. In our attention the automatic mechanism works by adding and the subtract option is much less obvious.
Now researchers (2) are addressing this peculiar tendency of our brain that brings us to deal with problems by adding something and rarely by subtracting. For me, this resonated with how our automatically approach is to want more, to do more, to have more, to create more. Considering to have less, to do less, to want less seems a very foreigner concept for our minds.
Kate Yoder develops her article in the contest of how to address climate change and I can recommend reading it.

As automatic patterns are the main target of my bodywork, the reflection about the difficulty we encounter in subtracting may nourish the practice of bodyawareness. Most of our automatic pattern are originated by early experiences of lacking or missing something, which can be material or emotional. Then the automatic response we build is an attempt to have more in order to compensate the original lack. Unfortunately, often, because these mechanisms happen without our attention, we end up doing too much: effort, eating, watching TV/Internet, working, shopping, self-criticism, pleasing others, seeking for confirmation from others, etc.

These patterns consume a lot of our energy and time and, at the same time, they block other activities and experiences that we may live. By training our attention to think in terms of subtraction, we will be more aware of the mind’s automatic adding mechanism.

How to train that:

  • Notice during the day how many time your attention goes towards the adding, the doing more way of thinking. For example buying more, doing more at work or at home, contacting friends and family members through social media, moving from one activity to the next, watching films and series.
  • Keep track of this during several days in a row.
  • Start to train subtracting in one easy context of your life. Train to do less. For example buying only what is necessary for the daily life, doing what is necessary at work, doing less at home, contacting only one – or two or three – person per day through social media, having some passive time (5-10 minutes) where you are not engaged in any activity, watching only one episode of your favorite series or only the first half of your favorite film.
  • Notice how this practice impact your level of energy, the use of your time, the feelings of being satisfied.

Enjoy this practice! And as always, I will be happy to support you !
Contact me also if you are interested in receiving more information about this topic.

1) Goodbye, old freeways? How subtraction could address climate change by Kate Yoder.
2) I am referring here to the work of Leidy Klotz on subtraction.

Picture taken in Val Bavona – Tessin.

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