We hear the word Minimalism so often that there seems to be degrees of minimalism in each of our lives! The term itself was first used in 1913 to describe an artwork by the Russian painter Kasemir Malevich. Since then, the word has gone on to connote a stripping down to bare essentials in terms of Art, Music, Design, Food and ultimately Living itself.
At the start of this year, my partner of 14 years and I decided to split and pursue different paths. Since there was this seismic shift happening in one aspect of my Life, I decided to change everything I wanted to this year. I’ve always loved the idea of being able to fit all my possessions in 2 suitcases. This comes from years lived training in Meditation I guess, but also from a perspective of living as a Traveller through Life. Whilst I don’t identify as a Traveller anymore, I’m still drawn to the romance of a Gypsy’s way of life.
Years ago I’d read a story that left a deep impression on me: A western Journalist sought out a Sufi living in Turkey for an interview. When he entered his house he found no furniture and the like. So he asked the Sufi, where are all his things. The Sufi asked the Journalist the same question back. The Journalist said I’m travelling so obviously have no furniture and stuff here. The Sufi said: I’m travelling through Life.
When I started re-doing my life, I began to veer towards a Minimalist approach to possessions, work and relationships – with the idea of creating more Space in my life. So the first thing that went was the car. Thanks to Uber, I felt I don’t need to own a car anymore and that would free up more mind-space within me.
As I was shifting homes all the excess stuff could easily be given away. I started to pare down the clothes that I had, and gave away most of them – retaining only those clothes I felt were absolutely essential. Funnily enough, in a month’s time I found that I used only 20% of my absolutely essential clothes! (This is also because I usually have a limited palette of colours that I wear) So the other 80% went away too.
I started to look for a single room with ONLY a bed, cupboard and table close to my Yoga Centre. Lo and behold I found one 2 houses away. You sure do find what you’re looking for. So, I took up a 6 month residency there – for me that was my cave. I’d stripped away everything else. My entire adult life. my partner Neetu and me had always hosted people at our home. This was now a big change for me and I quite enjoyed the simplicity of living I was now experiencing.
In terms of my Work with Total Yoga as well, I decided to work with a smaller Team of super-focused Teachers whom I could have a one-on-one Mentor-ship equation with. This meant that anyone who wanted to move on, I wished them well on the next phase of their journey. I realised I have a minimal bandwidth in terms of mentoring, and so when someone left only then there would be space to welcome a new person in.
I also made an important decision to value my time. In the past I could be a social butterfly; but since I’ve been living by myself this year – I began a deep friendship with myself. It’s been amazing spending time doing the little things I enjoy. It’s given me so much space in terms of Time that I never feel rushed anymore. Of course managing my ambition is an important part of this change.
I took the time to spend more quality time with my Friends. Whilst previously I’d have not differentiated between Friends and Acquaintances, I did that this year. And it’s been greatly rewarding.
To put this is the context of a life of Meditation, the Yoga conceptual equivalent at least in terms of Materialism, would be ‘Aparigraha’ or non-hoarding. This is one of the basic tenets spoken in the Yoga Sutras. The idea is to inculcate a non-attachment with our Material possessions, but not merely Renounce things. Which is slightly different in that, you could renounce a whole lot of your possessions but still be super-attached to the 2-3 things that you decide to keep. Right?
So Aparigraha is about non-attachment to material objects. You can have every possible material item – but you’re not attached to any of it. Through this practice Yogis sought to have a more composed, unified Mind. If you’re attached to 100 things – it ultimately divides your mind into 100 fragments.
I’m curious to know how 2018 would pan out as I add back aspects of my life such as moving back to living in a full house, engaging back in a relationship, getting on with my business’ growth and the like. I hope the lessons I’ve learnt in 2017 and the space that my Minimalist experiment has given me remain as I re-engage! And I seek out Inspiration for some new experiment for 2018. Any ideas…please do share? I’ll be happy to try something new this year!
(yogi, coach, speaker & blogger, co-founder Total Yoga. profile >>)
Total Yoga is a balanced style of Yoga that focuses on Fitness training and Mindfulness practice equally.