But as an adult working in the fashion industry, I struggle with materialism. And I’m one of the least materialistic people that exist, because material possessions don’t mean much to me. They’re beautiful, I enjoy them, they can enhance your life to a certain degree, but they’re ultimately not important.’ -Tom Ford
In yogic philosophy, there is a term ‘vairagya’. This term roughly translates to dispassion, detachment, or renunciation, in particular renunciation from the pains and pleasures in the material world (maya).
Before I started practicing yoga, I loved all things brand-name. I walked around with my Prada bag, Miss Sixty Jeans, Gucci belt, and Tory Burch flip-flops. At the time, I convinced myself I was into fashion, but boy was I far from it. Fashion is something very creative. It is an art. Attention to detail, fantastic quality, precision, passion, and intention are the fuel that keep this aspect of modern society burning strong. I was not interested in art. I was interested in a label. I was interested in fitting in. I remember the first time I bought a shirt from Abercrombie & Fitch. It literally said ABERCROMBIE in huge letters across the front, and I couldn’t wait to wear it to school. I actually felt cool to have these things, as if these things made me cool… as if I weren’t enough already.
Everything physical is temporary. The leaves on the trees die. The food decomposes. Even your body is temporary. That being said, it makes sense that the yogic scriptures place emphasis on non-attachment as a means for self-understanding. It is important not to depend on external things. If that happens, ultimately we lose a part of ourselves that is more than just the physical… a part that is deeper and richer and more at home.
Things are necessary. You need clothing. You need a roof over your head. But you need more than that too. The fact that you’re reading this on your computer, laptop, or cell phone gives me a good idea you require more than just any old roof over your head and any old rags on your body. You deserve incredible quality. You deserve abundance. Stepping into a place of conscious abundance is a recipe for wellness. Materialism can be very constructive when used with care and respect.
Before you purchase items, purchase them through the lens of mindfulness. What is the energy and intention behind your purchases? I am not suggesting you only buy out of necessity. I am not proposing you live like a monk. I am proposing you apply awareness when you seek outside yourself. That is all. Are you buying the expensive dress that you don’t need because you can hide under it? Do you need it to feel beautiful? Do you simply enjoy the thrill of shopping and having new things? Are you feeding an insatiable desire? If the answer is yes, fine. There’s nothing wrong with that answer. This is not about changing anything. It’s about building your muscle of awareness. The more aware you become, the more your choices will reflect that awareness. Just like in eating, you don’t want to eat everything. You take what you need (and some of what you want) and leave the rest. The same applies to buying things. Too much is never enough, and the ‘more is better’ belief system is dangerous in the long run.