Little House Big Lessons -Episode 1 Dralapalooza

As I wrote a while back, I am sharing 580 square feet of home with a tall, dork, and handsome type, and a big orange cat with a bad sense of when morning should actually begin.

We have become more adept at moving and flowing around each other. Although, the cat seems to think barging his 18-pound girth past me on the spiral staircase is perfectly acceptable roommate behavior. What we are now contending with is the drala.

For probably 15 years, I’ve carted around a pocket-sized version of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche’s classic, “Shambala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior.” It was only about three years ago the 3X5 inch book finally made it into a pocket, pack, or purse of mine. I’m glad it did.

This wee book is chocked full of wisdom. When I find myself waiting, I often fish it out and give it 10 minutes of study rather than participating in a few more rounds of Words With Friends (or updating my Instagram, or reading Medium, or any of the other hundred ways the glowing screen tries to pull me from this world.)

How apropos this tiny book had such relevant information for living in a tiny house! In a section enticingly called, “How To Invoke Magic,” Trungpa artfully introduces us to the concept of “drala.”

Imagine for a moment all the “good” energy of this world, the magical energy, the creative energy, the sigh of God energy, Spirit, juju, call it what you will, but you know it’s the good stuff. Imagine it is swirling on the wind, always. In every smudge of air, this magic is carried. And the winds of the world distribute it evenly. The good juju comes knocking on all of our doors.

When the door opens, what is inside? What is the receptacle for this energy? Is this space happy, warm, inviting? Is it clean enough and organized enough that the inhabitants are healthy and unharried? Can you sense that there has been more laughter than tears in this space? If so, the space has “good drala,” and the magic can flow.

A space that is cluttered and dusty,where trying to find and item can make one cross or even erupt into a fight; a space where the sink has some science experiments going on and there is no toilet paper in the bathroom; a space that has been filled with the intrusive, mind-warping blathering of non-stop television; this is not a space where creative, magical forces feel welcomed and at home. They may flow right on by to the neighbors house.

“In summary, invoking the external drala principle is connected with organizing your environment so that it becomes a sacred space. This begins with the organization, personal, household environment, and beyond that, it can include much larger environments, such as a city or even an entire country.”-Chögyam Trungpa

The idea of the drala of a neighborhood I’ll save for another day. In a tiny house, however, you can keenly feel the drala changes instantly. Folding laundry on the coffee table means laundry kinda sorta “has to” get put away fairly quickly. That coffee table acts as dining table, chess table, put-our-feet-up-while-we-play-music table. To lose that, simply for the luxury of postponement of the inevitable, diminishes the drala of the tiny house.

With our reduced square footage and open floor plan, a winter jacket over the back of the chair really eats up the visual space, shoes left at the back door landing quickly become a safety hazard to anyone navigating the short-treaded stairs to the basement. In a tiny house, a pile of mail will gobble up your actual need-to-live living space, so you sort, file, pay bills a little quicker.

And that is just the EXTERNAL drala. I find the more I attend to my home-space, the more aware I become of my “internal drala.” Am I drinking enough water? Did I sleep well? Am I getting a 10–20 minute meditation in once or twice a day? I can tell if my mind is settled or not. If I’m physically or mentally “stirred up,” it muddies the drala-waters and it is tougher to experience the magic of living. When my external drala is off, it is easy to expend extra mental efforts — muddy my internal drala, if you will — in losing and seeking, in broken items, in last minute lack of clean underwear or an empty larder when dinner time arrives.

In the tiny house, every object effects the flow. There is no extra room to squire away unused, or unwanted items. New items rarely arrive. Contentedness with what we already have contributes nicely to the drala of the tiny house. Keeping our external drala has us appreciating much of what we already own, everyday. Nothing calms your internal drala like not wanting wanting, seeking seeking, or stressing about paying for and caring for too many physical items in your life.

I take my cue for contentedness from the big orange attention machine. A sunbeam, a breeze through the porch, food and water and a shiny reflection on the wall are all he needs to live a truly rich life.