Do You Think of Thrifting as a Spiritual Practice I Sure Do – and Here’s Why!

I consider myself a world class
thrifter. I’m very proud of that credential. If I’m traveling and I have a
little time, I head right to the local thrift store (there’s an app for that).
I’ve learned that the best thrifting is found in affluent communities where
thrifting is not cool. More good stuff for me.

When I found myself in Fairfield, CT,
one of the wealthiest counties in the country, I hit the mother lode. I’ll even
text friends and say, “I have a shirt here you would love… the tags are still
on it… do you want it?”

For years I’ve been pondering why
thrifting speaks to my soul as well as my budget. I’ve discovered that the art
of thrifting has many layers.

It’s a cultural experience, a
spiritual experience, a chance to exercise my creativity, and a good, old
fashioned treasure hunt. And it’s good for the environment. Many people don’t
realize how “disposable fashion” creates tons of waste.

Actually, I’m a Minimalist

My visits to my local Salvation Army
have been especially fun and productive. It’s a store I’ve gone to for many
years. The clerks recognize me. I bring my own cloth bags.

My affection for the Salvo is not as
simple as my love of bargains – like buying dresses with the tags still on (and
maybe, if I’m really lucky, the tag is the 50% off color of the day).

Ironically, I’ve been thinking a lot
about materialism and embracing the reality that I have more than enough. For
goodness sake, I’m just about to launch my online course “Too Much Stuff,”
which addresses clutter and helps people navigate their feelings about needing
to keep things they don’t use.

But thrifting falls into a different
category for me. It’s just as much about the process. I thrift mindfully. I’m
no longer buying things just because they are bargains. Thrifting has become an
art form with many facets.

World Market

In Syracuse, New York, we have an
active immigrant resettlement program, and many new citizens shop at the Salvo.
I hear languages from all over the world. I see faces that are clearly not
native to Upstate NY.

I soak in the international vibe, and
I feel connected to the world community. I have deep awe for those who have
traveled very far to come here. Sometimes I think about what they’ve left behind,
and what it was like to relocate so far from home.

I know some people have never seen
snow before. I am also aware that not everyone is welcoming to immigrants, so I
try to send welcoming vibes, even if it’s just a smile.

I can’t imagine how challenging it
must be. Appreciation is an enriching experience, as is the gratitude I feel
for not having to flee from my own country.

I’m with Marie on This

When I pick up an article of clothing,
it has a history. Marie Kondo speaks eloquently about clothes and their spirit.
These items are imbued with a story. Although I wash the clothes before I wear
them, wearing them also helps me feel connected to others.

There’s a spiritual strand that
connects us through wearing the same clothes. It reminds me of when I went away
to school and I shared
clothes with my dorm buddies. It felt familiar and friendly. It’s a kind of
shared experience.

Connecting with Creativity and My Mom

My strolls through the aisles in the
Salvo also allow me to relax my mind – to be open to surprise. Buddhists call
this “beginner’s mind.” I try to consider styles that aren’t part of my usual
psychotherapist uniform.

What about this color? How could I
wear this? I channel my mother who was a professional artist. She gave me an
eye for color and quality. It’s a skill I’m very grateful for. Sometimes I take
a chance on something I wouldn’t usually wear – especially if the tag is the
color of the day.

Dogs and Purses

Rescue and rehabilitation are another
part of the thrifting experience. Some of the items need a little love. I
bought a very well worn, high quality purse that had seen better days. I took
it home and washed it with leather soap. Years of dirt came off and it had a
new luster and lease on life.

It occurred to me that thrifting can
call on our compassion. I believe in second chances. That probably explains why
I have three rescue dogs.

I also love to shop at the big box
store nurseries, where they have a rack for unloved plants. One of my fellow
shoppers called it the “death row.” Either way, some of my best perennials are
thriving after a little love and water.

It’s Not for Everyone

I know that thrifting is not for
everyone. One of my friends says there’s a “shkeev factor.” My son says it
smells bad in the Salvo. I get irritated when the local college kids come in
for their party costumes and can be quite oblivious and even arrogant.

But it resonates with me on many
levels. Finding the activities that fit your identity at the deepest levels is
important. I joke with my husband that my tombstone will say, “She was a great
thrifter.” That would be fine with me.

do you think of thrift shopping? Is it an experience you’ve tried or would like
to try? What are your best thrift store finds? Do you see a connection between
thrifting and mindfulness? Please share your thoughts with our community!