"The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak." -- Hans Hoffman

This morning I woke up with an achy lower back exactly on my right kidney. After a yin stretch to remedy it I sat down and read the NYT newspaper. My morning routine is simple: drinking a glass of water upon waking up followed by a big cup of matcha tea, reflecting--writing and reading while Bach music plays in the background, then stretching or moving the body depending on how it feels and or what I'll be teaching that morning, followed by a warm or hot bath depending on the body temperature, and eating breakfast if hungry. Lower back pain is a constant challenge as I have a very curvy lumbar spine. I sleep on my sides in order to avoid hyper-compressing the lower back in supination. Waking up a few times to change my position from side to side to relief stagnation often disturbs my sleep. My husband normally wakes up about 30 to 45 minutes after me and we always embrace each other the first thing when we are both up. The inspiration and nurture I get from the morning activities helps me cope with the daily wear and tear. The routine gives me the right amount of physical, emotional, and mental nourishments that set a harmonious tone for the day.

I've shared in classes the economist Artur Manfred Max Neef's 9 Universal Human Needs. His finding proves helpful in my hacking away the inessentials so I can focus on the essentials.

  1. Affection
  2. Creation
  3. Recreation
  4. Freedom (autonomy)
  5. Identity
  6. Understanding
  7. Participation
  8. Protection
  9. Subsistence

Simplicity is a matter of focus. It's very difficult to focus when we are tired, spaced out, worried, or overwhelmed. But without focus we end up feeling these things. To meet the needs above we learn to cultivate both the capacity to find them in ourselves and the ability to communicate clearly to others so we can meet each other's needs.

To know what you need from others requires that you know exactly what you need. I've found that emotional upsets are as much a result of physical needs not being met as it is feeling misunderstood. Some activities are more emotionally nurturing while others are more physically and mentally satisfying. The interactions with my husband and dogs are the main source of my emotional nutrients and so is the connection with the people I interact with regularly in classes and beyond. The only way to know which foods are right for me I observe how each food item, meal, and drink affect my body and brain. The same is true for the music I listen to, the clothes I wear, the bed I sleep in, as well as all the activities I do and the amount of rest and leisure required to balance them. To feed myself mentally I balance between knowledge and wisdom. Knowledge is the outside mental stimulations such as reading books and attending lectures. Wisdom is insight. It is the distilled mind as a result of mindfulness and concentration which generates essential and necessary thoughts. From time to time and especially the difficult times ask the imperative question: what do I truly need right now? Then say to yourself: I offer myself affection, understanding, and protection. Now you are ready to receive exactly what you need.