In a previous post I shared 3 ways I’m creating time and space in my life to practice mindfulness. One of the three ways is clearing our home of clutter. Another is being intentional with how I spend my time. Both of which are components of embracing a minimalist lifestyle. This got me thinking about the connection between minimalism and mindfulness.
I realized minimalism is not only a way to create time and space for mindfulness. Minimalism is actually a mindfulness practice in itself. And in fact, mindfulness encourages and supports minimalism in return. In fact, minimalism and mindfulness make an excellent pair! I’ve put together a list of 4 ways minimalism and mindfulness encourage and support each other.
What is Mindfulness?
First, here’s a brief description of what mindfulness means in the context of this post.
As I mentioned in my previous post, mindfulness is a practice that involves:
- focusing on staying present in the moment, and in turn,
- creating space, or a moment of pause, between your thoughts or emotions and your reactions to them
Mindfulness is about staying present and centered within yourself, to bring more calm, presence and intention into your life. For more details about the practice of mindfulness, check out my previous post here. You can also find some great information about mindfulness here and here.
Minimalism and Mindfulness
To me, minimalism and mindfulness have a circular relationship. Each creating conditions to facilitate the other.
By embracing minimalism, owning less and simplifying, we create time and space to become more mindful. Allowing us to be present in the moment.
By focusing on being mindful and present, we become more intentional about what takes up our time and space. To be able to stay present in the moment through mindfulness, we want to remove any items or commitments that distract us or interfere with our ability to stay present. Which then in turn, encourages us to let go of more and embrace minimalism further.
Both minimalism and mindfulness encourage, support and inspire each other to continue to grow and develop in our lives.
In a lot of ways, minimalism and mindfulness teach us many of the same lessons. Below are 4 ways minimalism and mindfulness work towards and with each other. Demonstrating how minimalism fosters more mindfulness in your life, and how mindfulness is a key part to embracing a minimalist mindset.
4 Ways Minimalism and Mindfulness Make an Excellent Pair
1. Letting go of attachments
Minimalism involves decluttering our spaces and choosing to keep only the items we use regularly and/or love. During this process, we learn to let go of our attachments to the things we own. Recognizing the items we own are there to serve us or add value to our lives. And learning to let go of anything that doesn’t do this.
Minimalism requires us to consciously assess what we own and why we own it. Using mindful awareness to see our belongings with fresh eyes. Only allowing the things that add value to our lives to remain in our space. Minimalism teaches us to become more mindful and intentional about what items we keep in our homes.
Minimalism also reminds us that the things we own are not what matter most in life. Letting go of anything no longer adding value to our lives makes room for more important things. Such as the people we share our lives with and our experiences throughout our days.
Mindfulness in our heads. Minimalism in our homes.
Minimalism and mindfulness each teach and promote the idea of letting go of attachments.
Mindfulness focuses on non-attachment in our heads. Mindfulness teaches and encourages us stay present and to notice our thoughts and emotions. But also to avoid becoming unnecessarily attached to or caught up in our thoughts or emotions. Instead, mindfulness teaches us to notice thoughts or emotions, then let them go in order to remain calm and centered.
Minimalism focuses on non-attachment in our homes. With minimalism, you notice and pay close attention to the items in your space. Noticing the value they add to your life, without become unnecessarily attached to those things. You become willing to let go of anything no longer serving you or adding value to your life.
2. Staying in the present moment
An important aspect of mindfulness is staying present, and focusing on living in the moment.
Minimalism encourages us to only keep things in our homes we currently use and/or love. Not holding on to things from our past that we no longer use, need or love. And also not keeping things to use “just in case” or for “someday” in the future. Instead, keeping only the things we use and love in our lives right now, in the present moment.
Past and future clutter
So much of clutter falls into the past or future categories.
Past clutter are items we used to love or use, but our interests or needs have changed and we no longer use or love them. Or even things that we never used or loved, but kept out of obligation, guilt, procrastination, indecisiveness or habit.
Future clutter are items we keep “just in case” we ever need it. We think “what if a certain event happens and I need this item”. Or maybe we have plans to use the item “someday”. Future clutter happens when we convince ourselves to keep something because we see the potential of how we could use it. Even if that potential never becomes reality.
Minimalism and Mindfulness: Focus on the present
Minimalism shifts our focus to the present moment. We identify what we need and want in our homes and our lives TODAY. Not what we needed last year. And not what we might need next year. Instead, keeping only what we will actually will use and love today.
In the same way, mindfulness focuses on staying present and living in the moment. Mindfulness encourages you to return your attention to the present moment. Rather than obsessing about the past or worrying about the future. By embracing minimalism, and having only things you use and love in your current season of life in your home, it is easier to remain in the present moment.
3. Owning less allows you to be more present and intentional with your time
In addition to freeing up your space by only owning what you use and love currently, embracing minimalism also frees up your time. And allows us to be more present in our lives and intentional with how we spend our time.
Rather than letting our “stuff” rule our lives and dictate how we spend our time. After embracing minimalism, you no longer need to spend the majority of your time managing the things you own. Whether it’s buying them, researching them, cleaning them, maintaining them, picking them up, organizing them, etc.
Instead, by owning less, you’ve given yourself the freedom to stop spending your time focusing on what you own. And instead begin focusing on your life beyond your “stuff”. Which then, creates time and space to be more present in your life.
Applying minimalism and mindfulness to your time
Often simplifying and minimizing your space inspires you to apply minimalism to other areas of your life as well. Including areas such as your calendar and commitments. By focusing on also simplifying your schedule, you gain more time and freedom to live in the present moment. Instead of constantly rushing from one activity or commitment to the next.
Minimalism encourages you to intentionally build both time and space in to your life. Allowing you more freedom and opportunities to be intentional with your time and remain present. And remaining present in the moment is what mindfulness is all about.
4. Focusing on the journey, not the end result
Minimalism is more about the journey as you practice, experiment with and implement it into your life. And less about the end result of having a clutter-free space.
There really is no end goal or finish line of minimalism that you reach one day and are done. Instead, it’s a lifestyle you choose to practice on a daily basis.
You choose to live and be content with less because of the value living with less creates. So, you choose to only keep things in your home that add value to your life. And make the choice to be intentional not only with your space, but also with your time.
You make choices on a daily basis to practice minimalism. Along the journey of those daily choices is where you experience the benefits of minimalism.
Mindfulness is also about the journey, rather than an end goal or destination. As with minimalism, you intentionally choose to practice mindfulness on a daily basis.
It means making a conscious, daily effort to be more present in the moment. Teaching yourself to find time, space and self awareness to notice your thoughts and emotions without thoughtlessly reacting.
Minimalism and mindfulness: changing and evolving journeys
Both minimalism and mindfulness are processes and journeys, always changing and evolving as your life changes and evolves. What your version of both minimalism and mindfulness look like today may be different from how they looked last year, or how they will look next year.
The key to both is the daily, intentional choices you make. These small, intentional daily choices, to live minimally and mindfully, then add up to create big changes in your life over time.
Minimalism and Mindfulness: an excellent pair
Minimalism is an excellent way to practice mindfulness and bring more mindfulness into our lives. It is a way to clear our time, space and minds of unnecessary clutter. Which then allows us to live more fully in the present moment, remain calm and centered, and avoid reacting without thought or intention.
In turn, living mindfully naturally lends itself to embracing a minimalist mindset. The more present you are in your life, the easier it is to recognize what adds value and what doesn’t. And the more willing and able you are to let go of the things that don’t add value. And let go of anything distracting you from staying present.
Minimalism creates time and space for mindfulness. And then mindfulness, in turn helps move us towards a mindset that embraces and encourages minimalism.
Have you noticed a connection between minimalism and mindfulness? What encourages you to embrace minimalism and mindfulness?