by Frank Martin
Perhaps the most important thing when pursuing a minimalist or simple life is to have some sort of a focus, not a goal, but something beyond just getting rid of stuff that helps give meaning to the pursuit. After all, its easy to donate/sell/or dispose of most all of our stuff, then keep doing the same thing we used to do. I should know. When I first started getting interested in simplifying and going minimalist, I ended up spending most all day sitting in front of the computer doing diddly-squat that actually had any kind of meaning or use.
To use two rather well known examples, lets take a look at Gandhi and Leo Babauta. Mohandas Karamchand “Mahatma” Gandhi, born in India during the British Raj, led a country to independence through the pursuit of non-violent resistance and, though he was a wealthy man, spent the majority of his life with little to nothing, wearing a simple piece of cloth. When He died, his only personal items were his dhoti (a piece of white cloth used as clothing), a pocket watch, and a well worn, beloved copy of the Bhagavad Gita. For Gandhi, simplicity was a tool for revolution.
Leo Babauta has simplified his own life and recreated himself massively, as evidenced on his blogs, Zenhabits, and mnmlist (both of which I highly recommend). For Leo, minimalism is about family, writing, and helping others. In a more ephemeral sense, and more recently, its also become a pursuit of compassion and contentment. Through his writings, his honest sincerity, and compassion, he’s affected untold numbers of people and created one of the top 25 best blogs in the world according to Time magazine. For Leo, minimalism has been a tool for compassion and self-transformation.
These days, progressively minimal and simple living is a complement to, and a way to focus on my spiritual practice (including contentment and compassion, which I’ll write about later), and my writing, both of which will end up being of benefit to others, especially as I begin to teach. I guess I’m following more in Leo’s footsteps, though I consider both men role models, in that minimalism along with serious yoga practice have been major tools for transformation in my own life, and I hope to share this with others and inspire them to swim against the current.