What a more blissful compliment to a spiritual, conscious existence than an organized, clutter-free living. A clear mental space and a clear living space go hand-in-hand. Therefore, principles that apply to minimizing your life can be used to minimize your mental turbulence.
It’s never too late to get mindful, and minimalism can be a productive and effective step towards a mindful living.
Mindfulness and Minimalism
If life is making you feel extra overwhelmed and stressed, you could benefit greatly from a mindfulness-minimalist makeover. Most of our stresses stem from things that have happened in the past or things were anticipating in the future. Mindfulness is all about living in the moment.
And though minimalism is often linked to frugality and saving money, the mental benefits can often outweigh the physical. We’re going to take a look at what makes this pair so perfect, but first we’ll take a look at what mindfulness is.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a state of awareness. It’s the ability to keenly tune into the present, inside and out: where you are and what’s going on (the outside), and your feelings and thoughts (the inside).
Being mindful allows you to react to the outside world more constructively and with a level head, regardless of what’s going on around you. It’s about being aware of what things affect you and how so that you can respond to outside stimuli appropriately instead of impulsively.
Humans are programmed, due to a lifetime of social conditioning, to react a certain way to certain stimuli. Someone gives you a compliment, you smile. A friend makes a joke, and (whether it was funny or not) you chuckle. But you don’t have to react this way, and these reactions have nothing to do with how you actually feel.
You can smile at the compliment while feeling totally indifferent. Once we realize that we’re a bundle of presets, we can begin to turn some of those default settings off. This is where we start the process of growing into our true Selves.
In this way, you’re able to fully experience a moment for what it is. Mindful people are able to take in a situation using all of their senses and approach themobjectively, or without emotional influence. So, how do we do that?
How do I reach a state of mindfulness?
Mindfulness is naturally accessible to everyone. No special requirements, just a little introspection and practice. There’s a few methods that are conducive to a state of mindfulness:
- Meditation. Meditation is the most commonly taken path to access complete mindfulness and awareness. When meditating, zone in on the sensations felt by each of your senses. Allow your stream of consciousness to flow unbroken. Pay attention to where it goes. If you want, set a general topic that you’d like to meditate about before you start, and let your mind contemplate freely in that realm. The goal is not to render your mind absent of noise, it’s to calm the choppy waters of your mind to a still lake which can easily be sailed through. The more often you practice conjuring that stillness in your mind, you’ll be able to think clearly even when everything is falling down around you.
- Taking a second. If you’re feeling stretched thin, don’t hesitate to step away from a situation to decompress and still your mind. This is especially true when decisions have to be made. If you’re faced with a decision you’re not 100% sure about, wait at least 30 seconds to a minute before giving an answer. I’m the fast pace of life it’s easy to feel like there’s no time to take a second—there’s always a second to spare to organize your thoughts.
- Cathartic activities. Engage in a centering activity that you genuinely enjoy. Yoga is a great mindfulness activity. Painting, reading, light exercise, and walking are other great examples. It has to be something that stills your mind and keeps you in the present moment.
Existing fully in the present while enthralled in the hustle and bustle of modern day life requires you to become efficient in blocking it out and absorbing where and what you are right now. A great way to enhance that ability is to give yourself less to think about! A minimalist lifestyle gives you the space and organization that makes it that much easier to live mindfully.
They’re essentially two sides of the same coin, both conducive to the other. The less turbulence around you, the less turbulence within. The more mindful you are, the less modern-day influences affect you (because you possess a stronger self-knowledge). Practicing both can holistically attract a smooth and abundant life. Next, we’ll examine how they promote and naturally compliment each other.
Mindfulness and Minimalism: Benefits of a Mindful-Minimalist Life
1. Enjoy the process
Minimalism and mindfulness are both journeys to a better, healthier, happier self. It’s an enlightening experience when you go at your own pace and indulge each in a manner that’s most comfortable for you.
By itself, minimizing your life can be a daunting task in the beginning. Not engaging with society in the way you’re accustomed to takes some adjusting. However, your mindfulness training will make it apparent to you that you actually don’t need these things (instead of spending the whole time just trying to convince yourself that you don’t).
Being mindful allows you to analyze things objectively which makes the minimizing process so much easier. From an unbiased standpoint, you can clearly distinguish which items you don’t need or are just best without.
This applies to people as well. When your mindfulness increases, you become aware of what relationships in your life are feeding you and which are taking from you. You’ll be able to act with more accurate judgement, and, by trusting yourself, be assured that you’re making the right decision.
Practicing entering this keen state of awareness naturally develops a trust in yourself and your instinctive feelings (or “sixth sense”). You’d make healthy decisions all the time if you trusted yourself to make them!
2. Focus on the present
Our thoughts mostly lie on matters of the past or present. Whether we notice or not, we’re seldom living in the very moment we’re in. Especially since the introduction of electronics, we’d much rather engage in something stimulating than take the time to just look around.
Mindfulness is the practice of living in the present moment. Being completely aware of your surroundings in real time forces you to acknowledge the unnecessary things in your vicinity and naturally prompts you to get rid of them.
Meanwhile, living minimally decreases how frequently you encounter distractions every single day that take our attention off of the here and now. Especially in your home, minimalism clears space to do constructive mental work.
3. Let go
There’s a lot of reasons we, as humans, hold onto things. What we don’t consider is that all of those things have some affiliation with the past—in which we no longer reside. As time goes on, we have to contemplate whether our sentimental valuables represent or encourage who we are now and where we want to be.
Once we’ve discerned that, we have to make the decision to let all the other things go. Letting go of things will always be a challenge, but not nearly as challenging if you’re mentally fit.
During your journey to mindfulness, you’ll have to practice letting go of your pre-programmed reactions and beliefs as well. As you grow and change, so do your thoughts and beliefs.
However, we’re tempted to hold fast to those long-past thoughts and beliefs because they’re familiar and safe. Discarding certain things that you’ve had in your head your entire life can be intimidating. But when you’re able to let go of those and act in a thoughtful way that is true to you, you walk away feeling good every time.
4. Feel the freedom
The freedom of detachment, that is. The foundation of leading a minimalist lifestyle calls for you to detach from the material world. Excusing yourself from the race for the latest and allowing yourself to look beyond is a liberating experience.
Detaching yourself from emotions is even more liberating since they’re something you have to deal with ceaselessly. Your emotions are always with you. When you allow your emotions to dictate decisions (whether to buy the expensive dress or whether to yell at the guy that bumped into you at the mall), it’s a recipe for choices that you’ll regret.
Just like organizing your home, mindfulness is about being able to acknowledge thoughts and feelings in the moment then compartmentalize them and put away what isn’t necessary. Mindfulness increases your capability to detach from your initial feelings and keep a clear head—an important skill that will serve you well through life.
5. Do what you love
Mindfulness makes it easier to do what makes you happy! When you’re completely in-tune with what you’re doing, the positive feelings you get from doing these wonderful things are amplified. And of course the better you feel about what you’re doing the more you want to do it!
For anyone who’s not quite sure what they love to do, mindfulness practice and consistent trips within your mind can absolutely help you find your passion. You’ll experience a spark in productivity and creativity derived completely from gratefulness.
Minimalism, simply, creates circumstances to give you the ability to focus on what you love to do. Outside influences steer people astray from the path they know is right for them, toward the path they’re expected to take. By cutting down on those outside influences, you can adhere to the path that’s the very best for you.
If you’re looking for a complete lifestyle makeover—one that’ll make space in your life and in your head for great things—give the mindful-minimalist life a try! Being mindful will naturally make you want less things, having less things naturally makes you more mindful.
So when you endeavor to integrate both choices into your life at once, you’ll find that it’s much smoother than expected because they influence each other. A lot of us could use the benefits of a mental and physical decluttering, but we’ve become numb to living in this overwhelming state in this overwhelming world.
If everyone would take a second to find (and feel) the importance of being mindful, we’d have a world of genuine relationships to objects and people.