Minimalism is quite a thing today: a Google search will give you about 355 000 000 results for the term. It seems to be a natural response to the tendency of overconsumption in our culture.
The whole thing is about happiness. After all, that’s what we’re all after, isn’t it? As we’ve tried reaching happiness by owning stuff, we’re now trying the other pole as well by getting rid of it all.
But let’s go to the experts; this idescription you get if you go to The Minimalists’ website:
What is minimalism? If we had to sum it up in a single sentence, we would say, Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.
Minimalism has helped us…
Eliminate our discontent
Reclaim our time
Live in the moment
Pursue our passions
Discover our missions
Experience real freedom
Create more, consume less
Focus on our health
Grow as individuals
Contribute beyond ourselves
Rid ourselves of excess stuff
Discover purpose in our lives
Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.
That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. Want to own a car or a house? Great, have at it! Want to raise a family and have a career? If these things are important to you, then that’s wonderful. Minimalism simply allows you to make these decisions more consciously, more deliberately.
Being conscious is a good thing. Deciding what you spend your money and your time on is important, otherwise you’ll be lost in the automatism of blindly and unconsciously responding to influences and stimuli coming from the outside world. Of reacting to how you should live, what you should value according to your surroundings or even according to your exaggerated expectations. Of trying to keep up – keep up with that influencer’s body, your brother’s salary, or your friend’s new relationship.
Being conscious is like popping your head out of the water and getting some fresh air, which is a good thing. A great thing, actually. Let’s not forget, however, that we’ve delved into the treadwheel of accumulation and consumption for a reason. If we didn’t feel that we’d been lacking or missing something, why all the fuss about things and experiences and feeling more or better than others?
It seems to be obvious that the relentless pursuit of all these things comes from a feeling of dissatisfaction, and the assumption that satisfaction will be achieved when we finally gain them.
The ego game
The ego can never be truly satisfied. It doesn’t really matter whether you try to feed it with the latest Apple product, a trip to Bora Bora or having more leisure time. The level of satisfaction may and will vary depending on how much control you have or at least you believe to have over your life. The egoic state of your consciousness will always crave for something more. Or something different. You’re probably very familiar with the phenomenon of ‘if I could just…..I’d be happy/content’. And the dots may stand for a wide variety of factors: have enough money / a good relationship / a supportive family or background. Or something else, like: be younger / more courageous or skilled or educated / better looking.
The ego game is not a bad thing. All of us get caught up in this game every now and then, some of us for a longer time, while others for a shorter period of time. And sooner or later we learn. We learn that no matter how much of our wants get satisfied, there’s always something more, something else to wish for or to crave for. And these cravings are not necessarily for material goods, it could be subtler things, too, like appreciation, for instance.
My mom, for example, has this underlying feeling of not being good or valuable enough. She’s a creative and very talented craftsperson who, for her years in pension, found a nearby market and began to sell some of her home made products there. Each time she gets lots of compliments for the beauties she makes and she always receives these happily of course. But do you think her desire for appreciation can ever be satisfied? Is there a certain number of compliments after which she feels good enough and valuable? For a short time, maybe.
In time, she and all of us will learn that it’s a never ending game. It doesn’t matter what you’re longing for, if it’s a new couch of more appreciation, like in my mom’s case, the egoic state of consciousness cannot ever be truly satisfied. And the idea of ‘if I were a minimalist, I’d be happier’ is no exception either. In time, we all learn that we cannot win the ego game.
What do we value?
Before my daughter was born, I used to work as a Project Manager at a translation agency. At first, it was a relatively small firm operating mainly in Central and Eastern Europe. I applied for the job having basically zero experience in management. But I had the humbleness, interest, and curiosity to learn combined with just the right amount of ambition and good people skills, so I got promoted and became successful.
My dad was very proud of me. I had a prestigious position with a decent salary and an interesting, versatile, and responsible job. I was good at it and was valued by both my colleagues and my managers. Every time I visited my dad, he would ask about my job and liked to listen to my stories of decision making and problem solving.
My job is different now. It doesn’t require a university degree and doesn’t come with the same amount of money. Being a Karma Killer Yoga instructor doesn’t sound as prestigious as a project manager, either.
Since then, my dad is not interested in my job anymore. He doesn’t know how many people it gives a powerful tool to heal on every possible level, finding their life purposes, changing their lives, and becoming happier and more energetic.
My dad is a good person, for whom having a family and a good position holds value. Therefore, to have a good and content life, these are the things that you have to accumulate.
It seems that besides objects and experiences, we also like to collect labels ranging from skills to achievements, worldviews, and position. You know what I mean: I’m an open-minded, intelligent woman with a university degree and a cool job, living in a fancy neighborhood. I follow a plant based diet, meditate, and try to live an environmentally conscious life. My daughter goes to an alternative school and we both think Harry Potter is great.
We all put such labels on ourselves, typically the older we get, the more. We know how we react in certain situations, where we go shopping, what we think about gay adoption, and which party we vote for. And most of the time, we like to interact with people who live and think similarly, and therefore begin to see that lifestyle and collection of views as a sort of standard.
But something is still missing. And then we encounter the idea of minimalism. It sounds good, it sounds logical. Have less stuff, spend less time and less money on getting and arranging and cleaning them, find where your true values lie, and spend that time and money on them instead. Gain back the control that’s slipped out of your hand. And once you decide what you dedicate your time and energy to, you’ll feel better about your life in general, and find more happiness in doing the things you like, spending your time only with people you truly want to.
It’s like a trade. You trade some things for others in a conscious way. But sometimes all you gain is a different identity. Instead of being the person who collects shoes or designer clothes, you become a person with a capsule wardrobe. The new identity may feel cooler and shinier for a while, but the excitement may fade with time and the feeling that something’s missing may return.
With minimalism, its criticism has also emerged
The below fragments are from a theguardian.com article titled The empty promises of Marie Kondo and the craze for minimalism.
For some of its devotees, minimalism is therapy. The spasm of getting rid of everything is like an exorcism of the past, clearing the way for a new future of pristine simplicity. It represents a decisive break. No longer will we depend on the accumulation of stuff to bring us happiness – we will instead be content with the things we have consciously decided to keep, the things that represent our ideal selves. By owning fewer things, we might be able to construct new identities through selective curation instead of succumbing to consumerism.
Here the author of the article mentions Marie Kondo and the KonMari method, and criticizes her for her overly disciplined ways and her rigid approach to cleaning and tidying up. In the author’s opinion, Kondo’s readers this way are offered to trade the orthodoxy of consumerism for the orthodoxy of tidiness.
What she talks about is basically the road of distortion. Remember what the Minimalists said about the movement? That it’s a tool to…and then they listed various aims you can achieve. Let’s not forget, though, that the distortion is not necessarily the fault of any method or movement, but rather how we want to grab it and use it to be happier and more content.
Again, the egoic consciousness likes to accumulate, in this case, identities. So what happens in many cases is that instead of finding happiness, fulfillment and freedom, as the Minimalists promise, you strive to become a minimalist yourself and expect those things from the label.
The most famous proponent of minimalism – or at least minimalism as a lifehack – was probably Steve Jobs. In a famous photograph from 1982, Jobs sits on the floor of his living room. He was in his late 20s at the time, and Apple was making $1bn a year. He had just bought a large house in Los Gatos, California, but he kept it totally empty. In Diana Walker’s photo, he is seen cross-legged on a single square of carpet, holding a mug, wearing a simple dark sweater and jeans – his prototypical uniform. A tall lamp by his side casts a perfect circle of light. “This was a very typical time,” Jobs later remembered. “All you needed was a cup of tea, a light and your stereo, you know, and that’s what I had.” Not for him, the usual displays of wealth or status. In the photo he looks content.
Yet the image of simplicity is deceptive. The house Jobs bought was huge for a young, single man with no use for that excess space. Wired magazine later discovered that the stereo setup resting in the corner would have cost $8,200. The lone lamp that illuminates the scene was made by Tiffany. It was a valuable antique, not a utilitarian tool.
Not only is simplicity often less simple than it looks, it can also be much less practical than it seems. […] it probably did not endear Jobs to his family, who might have preferred a place to sit.
Apple devices have only a few visual qualities. But it is also an illusion of efficiency. The company strives to make its phones thinner and removes ports – see headphone jacks – any chance it gets. The iPhone’s function depends on an enormous, complex, ugly superstructure of satellites and undersea cables that certainly are not designed in pristine whiteness. Minimalist design encourages us to forget everything a product relies on and imagine, in this case, that the internet consists of carefully shaped glass and steel alone.
Similarly, we might be able to hold the iPhone in our hands, but we should also be aware that the network of its consequences is vast: server farms absorbing massive amounts of electricity, Chinese factories where workers die by suicide, devastated mud pit mines that produce tin. It is easy to feel like a minimalist when you can order food, summon a car or rent a room using a single brick of steel and silicon. But in reality, it is the opposite. We are taking advantage of a maximalist assemblage. Just because something looks simple does not mean it is; the aesthetics of simplicity cloak artifice, or even unsustainable excess.
With minimalism it seems that our stuff may go, but dissatisfaction and the burden of the label can still remain. Anamé Program also encourages people to lead a simple life, get rid of unused things, and surround themselves with things they love and/or actually use and give them inspiration. What’s the difference, then?
The energy behind the minimalism of Anamé Program
The energy work we do on the level of the chakras and in the whole system is based on two basic factors: cleansing and charging. And Karma Killer Yoga has been designed with that goal in mind. The combination of various breathing techniques, movements, and concentration first begins to clear out the blockages on all levels. How? On the physical level, these blockages could be toxins that have accumulated in your body. On the emotional level, these can be old hard feelings from relationships where you’ve got hurt. Mentally they could be some toxic views about the other sex, or harmful, self-depriving thoughts whenever you’d start something new. This is the cleansing part, but Karma Killer Yoga gives you something else to fill the gap, too: energy.
But why do we even bother about these blocks anyway? Shouldn’t we just let them in peace, accepting that all of us have them, and learn to handle them and just live with them?
Blocks in your energy system siphon off your energy, which means that it is not freely flowing and not freely available. Unused items and excess stuff do more or less the same. By giving them away, selling them, or (if they are in a bad condition) throwing them out, you release the energy that’s been stored in them. So it’s basically something that supports the cleansing process.
What we see at Anamé Program is that excess things or accumulated stuff work like energy traps. It’s as if some of your energy’s got soaked in them, whether they be old pieces of clothing or additives in your food that your body doesn’t need but has to work with. They all take up energy that you cannot use freely.
By charging, the other important component of Karma Killer Yoga, your body becomes more energetic and its healthy way of working is promoted. A higher energy level can be experienced on other levels as well: you begin to feel less fear and more hope, less doubt and more trust, less sadness and more joy, less anxiety and more stability, less judgement and more acceptance, less criticism and more love.
So how does getting rid of stuff with Karma Killer Yoga and doing the same as a minimalist differ, if at all? With Karma Killer Yoga, goes everything. In a way, this can mean life’s excess, just like in the Minimalists’ summing up in the beginning of the post, but this can also mean the part of you that’s craving for new identities. By applying the idea of cleansing and charging, what we see is that in many cases, it’s not enough to just take away stuff from your life, because unless you elevate yourself to a higher energy level, your choices to fill the gap may not be those of freedom but rather dictated by the same old blocks, such as fear.
In the next blogpost, I’ll go on to three more popular movements that are close to minimalism in more of their aspects: simple living, slow living, and mindfulness. I hope to see you there, too!