Easy … Breathe In… Let it go….

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There is absolutely no apt comparison of this pandemic with anything we have experienced.

Or do you think it is overrated compared to terrorism, war, hurricane or an earthquake? Obviously these calamities have created a huge visual chaos. Meanwhile this tiny invisible virus has noticeably stopped the whole world without any bias. And we are left blindfolded to find our exit out of this situation. Also, the severity of any catastrophe depends on the death tally and wreaked havoc on properties. But this pandemic, without any major visual impact, is still wiping off human population in its own way.

Despite all these uncertainties and ruined life routine, there is no doubt that this “new normal” has immensely and uniquely influenced our thought process. Though we shut ourselves inside our abodes, most of us are experimenting baking/cooking, Zen tangles/Mandalas, Self-Made videos and what nots. With restricted social life and closed stores, pandemic grimly parodies consumer trend. Retail therapy & impulsive buyers lost its meaning. Instead focus is on unexplored skills and intellectual activities.

Without any denial, many of us are enjoying our slow living. Don’t We? We are reevaluating our preset priorities and musing on complete lifestyle revamp. Right now, we are forced to follow minimalism and deprive ourselves from non-essentials due to many factors including financial insecurity.

Also every one of us are grappled with this imperative question “What is Essential?”

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Clearly, the “list of essential” keeps changing as we evolve, and it varies from person to person. What was essential couple of years ago is now a junk or non-essential.

Amid this panic, can I say “Minimalism as a lifestyle”. Does it make any relevance?

                   “Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important — so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.” (The Minimalists)

But “Minimalist living” is not new and has been catching up over the past several years.

Then why wait till the pandemic to bring back this buzz word? Does this mean Minimalism is just a fad?

Definitely No. Minimalism is a tactic that gives us liberation from rampant consumerism which distorted our values and deteriorated our well-being. It is kind of a realization of rich material possessions doesn’t lead to perpetual joy.

Hold on to this thought. Let’s decode the prevailing mantras of Minimalism and see how we can interpret it.

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Your Google guru will lead you to copious information. But the first few things you will come across about “Minimalist Living” is decluttering your homes, counting your items, minimizing elaborate wardrobes, organizing the closet. It adds Information about navigating your journey through corporate world (questioning your passion, huge salary and the stress with comes along with the package), intentional eating etc.

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Yes, Most of the elite group are now in the “Awake” mode, looking to slow down and live consciously. But does it mean disengaging ourselves from the structure we learnt so far? Or is the minimalism we know is only focused on Material world?

What else can be minimalist in this land of abundance?

Essence of Essentialism:

Traditionally, our education has focused on explaining us many concepts including economics such as demand and supply, but never on mindless consumerism. Rapid growth, Massive Production, Affordability and trends decided our shopping list. It prevented us from differentiating between need and junk.

Well, I don’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions.

But, it is the intention to attach less meaning to things and more significance to people, experiences and purpose. In summary we value materials so much, we do not let it go so easily. Sometimes, we aspire to buy things so much but the moment it is in hand it loses its charm. And then focus shifts on the next big thing. So this behavior on consumerism does not have a boundary.

Decluttering obviously is not new to anyone.  Many of us might do it on a quarterly or yearly basis, Indian culture has  some major festivals to declutter the house. But cleaning and organizing while moving from a place, or when you have an addition in the family or for a yearly ritual is all tidying up a place to fill with something else there. If that’s not true, then why do we have to go through the declutter process every year with the same effort? Well we can escape from a major purge again, only if we know “how to maintain”.

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During initial phase of my marriage life, we led an extremely comfortable nomadic life moving across the globe from different cities/countries for higher studies and building our career. I moved to 18 different houses within 8 – 10 years of time, mostly without a packers and movers help. So literally we lived out of our suitcases. But once we chose a place to settle, it is not the same- maintenance wasn’t easy. Backpack Minimalism is all exciting, it only works for few. Now I will think twice if I have to live on wheels though I enjoy travelling places for work or vacation.

Decluttering should be done not to clean the house for the day, but with a complete shift in the perspective. This lifestyle of essential living is never considered as a setback or a sacrifice. But it’s a mindset of wise weighing of each investment which will put a conscious actions before the hysteria of ignorant purchasing. The desire to add more to life dissipates when we can see what we already have. The approach of eliminating clutter and destruction starts when one accepts the idea of following the genuine voice of the heart, rather than trend voices that insist on the urge to purchase more.

Lockdown hours and days had shown that comfortable living requires only a few vitals that can profusely satisfy our vision and taste, and everything else is unnecessary. As indulgences such as continuous shopping become unavailable, the focus of minds turn to other sources of contentment.

But, Minimalism is not just about material disposal (Essentialist) or a back pack Minimalism (Experientialist). There are many other categories: Green eco minimalist – environment is the number one focus in this type of minimalism, actually sustainable Minimalism. Green living + zero waste are the key: reduce, reuse, and recycle. These minimalists find any possible way to reduce their carbon footprint on the planet.  There are also “Frugal Minimalists”, quite obvious if you want to follow Minimal. Another interesting set, which I guess is also the need of the hour is “Digital Minimalism” …. Wait, I swear, I did not coin this term. Apparently, many people realize that time and energy are getting wasted in digital world. And they did not stop there, they find ways to minimize it.

To me the most important of all is “SOUL MINIMALISM”

Amidst tidying up the materials around us, this lifestyle is purely focused on a purpose and a mission to find inner peace by decluttering our mind and awakening senses – if our ultimate goal is everlasting happiness.

Right now, we are been bombarded with life’s deepest questions like “What is Important in life?” Am I spending enough time with my family? Am I living greatest life of significance? “

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And then the soul searching journey starts by stripping away all unnecessary things from life and mind.  Letting go of old possessions translates to letting go of guilt, stress or any other negative feelings to which our belongings can sometimes become associated. The soul minimalist cherishes stillness of soul, and works to keep mental and spiritual clutter to a minimum. The goal is to only have things that bring pure joy to life by quiet mindful practice. This makes way for a surge of fresh energy when each of our belongings including what is stored in the mind has a purpose.

Way Forward ….

Minimalism is a continual ongoing improvement process, a constant re-assessment of our values & needs. And to me a mix of all types of minimalism and creating our own code seems to be a healthy approach. I might need my plants and some collectibles which brings good and fresh memories at home. A blank house might bring gloomy emptiness into me. Astecism is not the idea, slowly relishing every moment in life is the goal. Likewise each of us will have our own way of looking at incorporating minimalist principles to enrich our life.

Slow living, not to be misconstrued this approach to laziness/tardiness, unplanned undisciplined life. On the other hand this is a lifestyle emphasizing slower relaxed approaches to every aspects of life. In fact, the concept first started with the idea of traditional food production techniques in emergence to fast food cooking. So to me

     “Minimalism is a drive towards a slow & purposeful living both in the inner and outer world, leading to everlasting happiness”

Yet again, the next question is how fast people will make a shift when things go back to “Old Normal” (if at all). For some it might be instantaneous.

But if we fall under the category of “Awakened” will/ should absolutely not forget the lessons learnt. All these years we were racing against the clock, taking pride of handling multiple tasks. Time to stop and think about productivity and quality of life rather.

“Slow down and take a deep breathe” ………..

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I decided not to be slave of the cultural expectations, trapped in the glory of money, power and perceived success. I will happily bid farewell to the old style of living and take this opportunity to march forward by decluttering my mind and soul, to lead a simple life.

Are you a minimalist? Or planning to be one!! Share your experience in the comments.