Minimalism Was Born in India

Over the past few months, I’ve been reading and thinking a lot about minimalism. Yeah it’s time, but please bear in mind that I’m a European, and in Europe we are always a trend late.

It seems minimalism has been growing on the net, with an increasing number of blogs dedicated to a minimalist lifestyle.

"Minimalisme..." by Sabine Barras

What the hell is minimalism?

Basically, it’s stripping everything down to their bare essentials, working your way down to the littlest number of things you can own. Convenient when you need to move out of your place quickly, forget the U-haul.

Anyway, the bottom line is “less is more”, more space for the things that really matter to you. It’s not scaling down for the sake of it.

What precipitated the movement originally was the 2008 crisis and the recession that ensued. It is a reaction against our consumers’ society faced with this crisis, leaving a lot of people unable to keep up with the requirements of said society, namely “BUY BUY CONSUME BUY”, whereby you’re a somebody because you own things. Whether you need them or not is not important, as long as you have them.

Are you a minimalist?

By no means I consider myself a minimalist, first of all because I’m not one for labelling as you know ;), second of all because I own far too much stuff for this 😀 However I’ve grown interested in the philosophy – if I may use this word – and the enthusiasm, energy and nonconformism behind it (you bet!): these people have found an alternative way of living, making the most of what the system has to offer (ie the internet) to tweak it and spread simplicity. These are people who have cut down on their possessions, who’ve used the net to generate enough passive income to live a simple life, who work two hours a day, who are location independent freelancers most of the time, and who travel a lot. How could I not like it?

Is it really new?

Then I figured out why I liked the idea: from my yogic point of view, there’s a concept already existing for the “less stuff” facet of minimalism. A concept that has been around for centuries, popularized by a certain Patanjali: enter aparigraha, also known as “non acquisitiveness”. Leave what you don’t need, in 21st century English.

There you have it: a modern form of a thousand-years-old concept. Dedesigned and turned into a movement by Westerners. Again.

Backlash

And just like Westerners yoga practitioners and teachers, the backlash has started, coming right at them, in the shape of “minimalism as marketing trick to create a fake movement and have people buy your stuff online”. Ouch.

Whether minimalism is a movement or a fad, the truth is that it has made me consider my own belongings, my cupboard full of clothes I don’t wear, the stuff I have kept “just in case” and never use, the piles of papers and magazines everywhere.

It has made me consider the way I purchase said clothes and stuff. I am a rather sensible person when it comes to personal finance (thanks mum!), but sometimes I should think twice before heading to the cashier with my newly-found treasure in one hand and my credit card in the other.

I understand aparigraha, but it has become real in my eyes.

More about minimalism?

Here are a few references you can check out if you’re not familiar with minimalism:

Leo Babauta: one of the fathers of minimalism, with his zen habits blog and various books on the subject.

Everett Bogue: far beyond the stars blog, has also written ebooks on simplicity and location independent work.

Tammy Strobel: yay, a woman! Check out her blog RowdyKittens, might be an inspiration to go car-free (confession: I already do, I don’t have my licence, it helps). She has written books too.

Colin Wright : the master of travel with his Exile Lifestyle blog. The guy is moving place every four months, as voted by his readers o_O

Let me know peeps, what’s your take on minimalism?

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6 responses to “Minimalism Was Born in India

  1. Are you a minimalist? You hit the nail on the head in that paragraph! It is an interesting concept, isn’t it? As a Westerner, I applaud those who’ve figured it out . Mainstream society here is about owning and aquiring more stuff – its all around me. Minimalism (at least in the Midwest) is almost unheard of. I’m a minority. It’s sad really, the mindLESSsness of others. Today is “trash day” and you should see the stuff on the street – most def things that could be re-used, repurposed or recycled. I wouldn’t call myself a minimalist, but I’m def into working toward a simpler lifestyle physically and mentally!

    • Heather – exactly! This is what appealed to me too, and I have started working out what I need vs what I don’t need, and this year I will work towards decluttering a bit 🙂
      I’d had this post on my mind for a few days before reading and commenting on your blog yesterday, then I knew I had to publish it. Talk about synchronicity 😉

  2. Great post! I am sooo not a minimalist: I’m a Scorpio and we don’t do anything in a quiet/minimal way. But I’m working really hard on this so thanks for the tips and links. The blog looks fantastic!

  3. Wonderful wonderful! As I progress in life the less I need. I know a lot of this comes from my life as a yogi, but it also comes from seeing the passing of two grandmothers and emptying out their homes of the things they acquired over their lifetimes. That takes a lot of people and energy.

    To me living as a minimalist not only incorporates how you live presently but also the flotsam you leave when you go.

  4. A friend of mine tells a story of a woman that he met. She and her husband started out in a one bedroom apt. worked their whole lives to build the house of their dreams. When my friend met the elderly couple, they were selling their beautiful 2-story home…. they wanted to move into a one room apt., back where they started. They worked their whole lives to end where they started. We seem to a ‘more is better’ attitude, when in reality… it truly is the simple things.

    • Hi Carrisa, thank you for sharing that story. I agree with you, indeed it gets down to the simple things… Less possessions leave space for something else, love, friendship, dreaming, anything 🙂

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