Living on a boat: 7 benefits of a simple life

Can you imagine living with half of the belongings that you have? Do you think you could manage to live in one third of the space of your house or flat? Would your awareness of the use of natural resources change if you had to generate your own electricity and live with limited amount of water?

My experience of living on a narrow boat in the UK canal for almost one year has driven me to face all these challenges for people, like me, accustomed to live within the life standards of modern societies.

One of the main reasons why I moved from the city to a canal boat in the midst of the countryside was to be able to experience a simple life, to live in a higher level of harmony with my deepest desires, and to follow my genuine seeking for truth and love.

A simple life can take many forms. For me it doesn’t mean only a detachment of material and external goods; but a true commitment to live out of the essential qualities of a human being and to live accordingly to our deepest needs. I realized that once one has taken such decision, the aims of life one aspires are never far from the present moment.

Since then, I have been able to prove by my own experience that the challenges of living in a boat don’t come alone, but come also with the wonders and unparalleled joys of living in simplicity.

These are some examples of the benefits I’ve got from living a simple life:

  1. Slower pace of life. Nowadays, technology is very focused on saving our use of time. Paradoxically, in today’s society it seems that haste is a common companion of our daily life. When living a simple life, the present moment acquires a transcendental dimension because you are not oppressed by this tyranny of the urgent. By not expecting things to be done immediately, you live more tuned with the natural unfolding of the events, and your commitments and activities do not interfere with your inner harmony. You feel that you can breathe through being at any time. 
  1. Spending more time doing meaningful activities. There is a less range of activities you can do or consider doing when living a simple life. Probably you don’t have TV, or shops to go nearby. Also, there are less events happening in the countryside than in the city. This condition, instead of being limiting, frees you from many potential distractions that are neither important nor necessary, finding yourself more often doing what you really want to do and feeling more satisfied at the end of the day.
  1. Enjoying the basic things in life. Living a simple life connects you more with the essential aspects of life. By not spending too much time fulfilling superficial wants, you can devote yourself more to activities that satisfy basic needs, for example, cooking, making bread, cultivating a garden or meditating. At the same time, this amplifies your awareness on the elements that sustain our life, the cycles of life and nature, the needs of the physical and emotional body, and our dependency and inter-connectivity with the earth.
  1. Magnifying gratitude feelings. The less you have, the more grateful you become. By keeping only the things you need, you realize more about the value of every object you have, as you are more aware of the essential, positive, important or special characteristics they bring to your life.
  1. Uncluttered inner life. By doing less and not needing to fulfil so many wants, you are naturally more connected with yourself, and your inner life becomes more accessible to your consciousness. This allows you to get less entangled with your emotions and worries and get more ready to release the thoughts you don’t need. Therefore, you can detect easier the moments you lose your balance, allowing you to restore your inner peace more rapidly. 
  1. Not being so easily poured into the world of consumerism. When you go to a supermarket or a shopping centre, the atmosphere tries to make you feel pushed to buy something you maybe don’t need and you may regret to have spent your money unwisely. Living a simple life makes you really know the difference between your needs and wants, so you don’t let yourself to be dominated by the latter or dragged by the stream of consumerism.
  1. Deepening your connection with nature. When you are less surrounded by humanly created things, you are more opened to appreciate things created by God or the nature. The artificial world of technology becomes less appealing because you realize that its value only relies on its usefulness. Therefore, your eyes are more opened to things whose value lies only on themselves, as human beings or nature.

Feel inspired? Why not make a start to live more simply? You don’t necessarily need to move to live on a boat, but there are some habits that you could learn to change and/or adopt. Give it a start by joining our upcoming meditation retreat Living as a Monk: simplify life, amplify happiness or join our self-development program today .

Sara

 

 

How to develop a true friendship?

Developing friendship with other people is essential in our lives due to our own very nature. Human beings are relational beings, as everything we find in the nature. Our identity is shaped by the relationships that we establish with our world or environment, our society, other people and with something that transcends us. Therefore, we need to love and to be loved to become fully human beings, as love is the highest form we can relate with others and one of the most distinct features of our species.

However, relationships can also be a source of an impure attachment, hatred, disappointment, regret, guilt, hostility and pain. If our bonds with human beings are not built on the principles of true friendship and unconditional love, we will struggle to fulfill the desire to satisfy expectations of other people, or try to control other people’s life so they can satisfy ours.

I would like to share with you 5 key points to develop and sustain a true friendship:

1. Take responsibility of your own emotions. One of the main impediments that prevents us from establishing profound relationships with people is our reluctance to own our emotions. Many times we blame the other person for what we feel, without realizing that we are deciding to bestow in the other the power to influence us. This is not, however, something we must be afraid of or we should avoid. When we create a bond of affection with another human being, we are automatically vulnerable to the actions that happen or are produced by this person. Being aware of that, we would be better off if we take responsibility and embrace the emotions that come up in our inner world instead of stopping the relationship or blaming the other for what we are feeling.

2. Be autonomous and respect the autonomy of the other. Relationships can only be established from a place of freedom and autonomy in both parties. But freedom and autonomy can only come out of love, as if we don’t take our decisions out of love, we will take them out of our fears and selfish interests conditioned by external sources. The right to take decisions is always with us. In the same way that we cannot establish true friendship without exercising our autonomy and responsibility and deciding freely to love the other person or not, we need to respect the freedom and the decisions of the other.

3. Look at the other as an end not as a means. The primary goal of friendship is to love, because this is our most inherent need. But love has no other object than love. Therefore, the value of our friendship with others is not because of the usefulness of the relationship. Our love for a person should not depend on their capacity to improve the conditions of our life. This leads to use the other person as a means to fulfill our more banal and superficial desires and prevent the possibility of feeling the joy of having a true friendship, which is an end in itself.

4. Seek the good of the other person. When we love another person, we seek the good of the other because we rejoice in their own happiness. Therefore, our seeking for the other person’s good is totally disinterested. We serve the other without expecting anything in return. Acts of love are made for its own sake.

5. Embrace the differences. Friendship doesn’t mean to have the same interests, opinions and mind-set as the other person. Friendship welcomes differences and integrates them into a level of union that embraces but transcends them. Friendship entails recognizing that the value of the relationship is beyond our personal traits and belief system.

Friendship is therefore a practice of unconditional love, an opportunity to grow together towards fulfillment, a journey to unfold the most precious capacities of a human being. Why not discover it by your own experience?

Photo credits: Unsplash