Minimalism: a style or technique that is characterized by extreme spareness and simplicity. You may have seen examples of minimalism lately in Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, where individuals only keep items that spark joy in their lives, or in the tiny house trend, where entire families downsize their possessions to the bare minimum and live in spaces less than 500 square feet. But what’s the big deal? Why is everyone embracing minimalism all of a sudden?
The trend may be rising in part thanks to those who are embracing mindfulness. Mindfulness, a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, is a therapeutic wellness technique that encompasses the mind, body, and soul for holistic health. By being aware of your surroundings, it’s easier to see what you truly need and what no longer serves a purpose in your life.
Netflix currently features a film called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things. In it, the filmmaker interviews people who are dedicated to rejecting the American ideal that things bring happiness. Instead, it hypothesizes that happiness has much more to do with other aspects of life rather than material items.
Think about it. What brings you joy? It may be family, friends, or pets. It may be experiencing a new place while traveling or enjoying a brave, new dish. Sure, that new pair of shoes will make you happy as you check out of the store, but in ten years, will that purchase be a defining moment of your life? Minimalism involves sorting through the clutter and the tangible to find what is worth holding on to. Maybe therein lies the key to happiness.
If you’re interested in trying out minimalism for yourself, here are a few ways to incorporate the practice into your life today.
1. Explore one room in your house, touch every item, and donate the items you no longer need.
If you take a walk around your home, you’re almost guaranteed to find at least one item that you don’t use frequently. To keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, start with one room in your home, walk around, and consider every item. Ask yourself if each item of clothing brings you joy. Recognize if you have one too many candles. See if there are books you’ve read that someone else may enjoy. Make a “keep” and a “donate” pile and share your wealth with others in need. Once you downsize, you’ll be able to enjoy every item in your space, and it may prevent you from spending unnecessary money in the future!
2. Practice karma yoga.
We love this one! Karma yoga is yoga dedicated to service and work. This could involve making donations from items you no longer need as we discussed above, but it also can take many other forms. Karma yoga is about learning to act selflessly in service of others. Seane Corn, a well-known yoga instructor who travels across the world to teach yoga and activism, is a prime example of the power of karma yoga. Karma yoga is all about letting go of your ego and in a sense minimalizing your life to share the energy that is the most important. Starting a dedicated karma yoga practice will allow you to weed out areas in your life that no longer serve you and fill them with activities for good.
3. Simplify what you eat.
Taking a look at what you eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner is a great way to put your health first and minimalize your unhealthy intake. Prioritize simple, organic ingredients like fruit, vegetables, and other food that comes from the earth. If you look at the ingredients list on a package, the more minimal, the better. This goes for portion sizes, too. Try cutting your portion size to an appropriate amount (as long as you’re getting the nutrients your body needs!) and see how much better you feel. Go through your cabinets and toss old, expired items. If you have too many canned goods, consider donating those to your local food pantry. Ideally, you should know at all times what you have in your kitchen. This is the epitome of minimalism.
Practicing minimalism will allow you to focus on the important things in life and rid your mind of worries that are no longer necessary. You will likely also find a new appreciation for each day and spend your dollars more wisely. How are you practicing minimalism? What are you learning? Let us know in the comments!
Chasing Nirvana Yoga offers on-site yoga and wellness classes to employers/employees, office buildings, community events, and more. To schedule your free consultation, visit us online at www.chasingnirvanayoga.com.