|~~~ Buddha ~~~|
Minimalism was my first step towards physically decluttering life but as I stripped away the unnecessary garbage significant holes were left behind. I had spent so much time working, earning money and buying things that I had neglected what was really important. The gaps left after this purging process were almost palpable. Removing the physical junk revealed an even bigger mountain of mental clutter previously masked by worldly consumeristic conducts. I found this a very daunting situation to be in and at times my resolve really wavered.
Fortunately, it didn't take me long to realise that what had been missing were meaningful relationships and inner spiritual peace. I am not saying that these important elements didn't exist in my life per se, but they had been seriously neglected and were in need of some real effort on my part. At this point in my life minimalism became as much a diagnostic tool to identify issues as it was a tangible method for removing material clutter. The more I removed the more minimalism revealed. What an incredible web of self deceit I had woven. Indoctrinated by society, but equally indoctrinated by my own mindset, all made worse by a plethora of meaningless external validation pushing me further down the wrong path.
Historical religious leaders have often been referred to as the first minimalists, many religious doctrines advocate the removal of attachments to the physical world and earthly possessions. Look at the life of Christ for the ultimate example of selfless minimalism. For Christ the things that mattered were spirituality and relationships, all impeccably encapsulated in the instruction, "love God with all your heart and love your neighbour as yourself."
Buddhism and it's teachings have often been a source of daily affirmations for me, while I am not a Buddhist that does not preclude me from seeing pertinent truths within it's teachings. As minimalism changed my daily life so I was able to give more attention to the underlying cause for the way I had been living. In the end it was all about free choice, I had made a conscious choice to live a worldly life, now it was time to choose to live a different one. Minimalism was now about changing the way I think, it had become a mental endeavour where the junk was no longer physical and easy to dispose of.
At this point in my life minimalism was still a new concept, daily affirmations were therefore very important to me. They gave me focus and served to remind me where I was heading and why. Most people who choose minimalism as a lifestyle initially make good progress, physical decluttering is the easy part, but soon realise that if minimalism is to become sustainable it's their mindset that ultimately must change. As I mentioned, this was the hardest part for me and the part I still battle with the most. You have probably noticed that a larger percentage of my posts relate to changing the way you think, this is of utmost importance. I still discuss techniques for physical change like debt reduction, decluttering, parsimonious living techniques and so on but without a mental left shift most people simply end up back where they started. Physical minimalism is no more than monkey see monkey do if not backed up by a complete change of thinking.
The message I want to share more than any other is that you can adopt every and any technique you like in order to bring about change in your life, but if you don't radically alter how you think you wont get far before you fall. Change your mind to change your life, this is the essence of minimalism. Your ultimate goal as a minimalist needs to be the provocation of a thought process that empowers you to formulate your own solutions to problems, change on a mental level will create change on a physical level.