by Laura McCorry
Have you always admired that person with the clutter-free, minimalist home but assumed it was a mythical ideal you’d never achieve? Minimalism doesn’t have to be a complete lifestyle change that has you throwing out all your stuff!
Increasing your awareness of how you interact with objects in everyday life can be hugely beneficial to your yoga practice, too. Minimalism is essentially the practice of Aparigraha – the yogic principle of non-hoarding, or non-possesiveness, and one of the five Yamas which describe a code of moral behavior.
Here are five easy steps you can take to make a minimalist impact on your day to day:
1. Identify everyday chores and do them everyday. Make the bed. Do the dishes. These will be different for everyone, but choose no more than five chores that you consider essential to enjoying your time at home. Take the time to accomplish these tasks first and then allow yourself to enjoy their completion. Learning to appreciate the everyday maintenance work you do is an important step towards feeling content with what you already have.
2. Take note of your shopping and buying habits. When do you accumulate more items in your home? Write down or think about everything new to cross your threshold in the last two weeks and decide if these items were things that you needed or things that you wanted. Becoming aware of the accumulation process will help you reduce the number of new things you bring into your home in the first place, which goes a long way towards eliminating the need to sort and downsize.
3. Start a give-away box and actually give it away. One of the major tenets of minimalism is actually down-sizing and living with less (surprise!). Pick a room or a closet or even just a shelf and get rid of any object you haven’t used in the last year. You can even start this task by mentally sorting ahead of time and then moving quickly through the manual sorting into keep and giveaway. Anything you couldn’t remember being in that location should automatically be considered for giveaway.
Another technique is to take everything out of the space, clean it thoroughly and then only put back what you want to keep. At the end of the day, take the box to your local thrift store. Take the time to enjoy your newly refreshed space.
4. Identify and eliminate redundancies. It’s natural to desire change and to update items in your home with the newest or trendiest version. If this is important to you, it doesn’t mean you can’t be a minimalist! The trick is to let go of the older version or the excess of what you already have.
Pick a category of items and decide how many of those items you need for your household to function well. Some categories to consider: cleaning supplies, linens, clothing, mugs or dish ware, and entertainment items like books, CDs and DVDs. When you change your focus from trying to carefully re-organize a closet to fit all the things to identifying the function of each thing, it becomes easy to see duplicates (or even triplicates) that can be let go.
5. Use sorting as an opportunity to give a gift to a friend. Sometimes just giving away items can feel overwhelming, especially if they were a gift or have sentimental value. For example, I recently decided to significantly downsize my jewelry and only keep what I regularly wear. There were many pieces with meaning from an earlier time in my life which I didn’t wear anymore and a surprising number of pieces I’d never liked in the first place. Some went straight to giveaway but others I chose to send to close friends who might enjoy them, writing a short note to say hello at the same time. It was a great way to pass on the jewelry I didn’t want to give away as well as reaffirm old friendships.
If you’re just getting started on your minimalist journey, start small and feel proud when you attempt even one of these suggestions. It takes time and dedication to see all the ways our mainstream “more is better” culture influences daily life. If you get stuck along the way, repeat this minimalist mantra: have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.
Yoga and Laura had an on-again-off-again relationship from 2004 until 2009 when they decided to move in together and there’s been no looking back since. Passionate about both yoga and writing, Laura loves to introduce others to the joys and benefits of yoga and healthy living.