Zen Meditation: Seriously-Old Minimalism

old minimalism

469 BCE +/-

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

~ Socrates

500 BCE +/-

“Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are.  When you realize there is nothing lacking, the whole world belongs to you.”

~ Lao Tzu

551 BCE +/-

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”

~ Confucious

563 BCE +/-

“To live a pure unselfish life, one must count nothing as one’s own in the midst of abundance.”

~ The Buddha

Meditation Assignment:

  1. Grab pillow.
  2. Sit or lay.
  3. Relax.
  4. Regulate breathing.
  5. Focus:  I am a long-time minimalist, so I may be a bit biased, but most Americans and other peoples from over-consuming countries could benefit from paring down a bit.  There has got to be a reason Monks and Monk-ettes from all religions extract themselves from possessions, people, and the externals and internals of whatever culture they come from in order to pursue enlightenment.  Perhaps it is because when surrounded with so much stuff, drama, useless emotions, extraneous rules, rituals, and expectations one cannot see the forest for the trees.  Think about what extra baggage, be it physical, mental, or cultural, you are carrying around.  What would your life be like if you let it go?  What steps could you take today to rid yourself of some unwanted item, emotion, or expectation?  Etc.?
  6. Moving Meditation:  I believe it is easiest to start with the physical items of that which makes up one’s “world.”  Today we have a strong minimalist and decluttering trend on the rise.  I feel the collective consciousness of humanity is changing.  And, there is another trend that I have noticed – once self-proclaimed minimalists have done all the external simplifying the majority of them move on to some kind of internal improvement like Zen, spirituality, creative endeavors, charity work, better lifestyle practices, etc.  The external was just practice for the internal.  So, today’s (or this weekend’s) moving meditation is to strengthen our “excavation” or “shedding” skills.  Pick a place to shed / excavate.  It could be your closet, kitchen, basement, desk, junk drawer, etc.  It takes less time than you think, so don’t get stressed.  Stand before your chosen space and close your eyes.  How do you see yourself interacting in the space?  How do you want to feel in the space?  Run through a few positive scenarios in your mind?  Now, decide what you want to keep in order to achieve that “you.”  Not what you are going to get rid of, but only what you want to keep.  You could just get started, but if you need more help or explanation please read below.*
  7. Mantra:  Last bit of motivation / wisdom from Lao Tzu:  “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.”  And.  “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”  Make them your mantra while you shed / excavate “you,” especially if you are uncertain on how to proceed with a given item.
  8. If you like this moving meditation, do it again with something physical, mental, cultural, etc.  

*The Konmari Method (which I like very much, even as someone who is already minimal) is to do the following steps (in bold) and I summarize as it has been quite a while since I read her book**:  

  • Take everything out of said space (I am already rather minimal – I skip this step) and put it on the floor.  
  • Pick up every item and see if it “sparks joy.”  I love this idea because it is not about getting rid of, but keeping – and only keep what you love.  Even for me, this was a tiny tweak that made being a minimalist easier.  There is always clutter creep to contend with.  Recently I wrote about getting rid of most of the stuff in my house because after 20 years I just didn’t like it anymore.  And once I decided to actually go through with it (or let it go) – it was as if the stuff couldn’t wait to leave.  It all but flew out of the house.  And now that there is even less stuff, I am much more aware of the energy of all the remaining items.  Some of their days are numbered.  I digress.  Since I am very in tune with the energy of the items of my house I do not necessarily pick up each item.   However, I do think this is a good idea for beginners and hoarders.  The more you do it your intuition will grow quicker and more powerful.   If you maintain fewer items, it is even easier.  
  • Next, after thanking each item for it’s service to you, put things in the appropriate piles: keep, trash, donate, sell.  Although I recently did sell several items from my home because they were large and or valuable – I would caution you on the “sell” pile.  Often times people (um, me) will procrastinate on the selling steps of getting rid of an item and it ends up staying for way longer than it should.  I have learned that for most items I am never going to get around to selling them or it’s much more trouble than it’s worth.  I just donate it or set it on the street for free.  Also, I do like the thanking aspect to Ms. Kondo’s method and I would encourage you to give it a try.  I was raised by parents who made me thank the aloe vera plant every time I cut off a spine to rub on my sunburns.  And I still do it to this day.  They believed that all things, places, times, creatures, people, etc. have an energy.  They were very wise.  Because of my parents influence, whenever I donate items I do so with the intention that they will make some new persons life better and in a Lion King-kind of energy-circle-of-life way I hope that some new kind of abundance will enter my life-circle in return.  I think it works.  So, on the advice of Ms. Kondo, I have added the thanking of items to my process (full disclosure – I do it in bulk).  Thank you Marie Kondo.  
  • After you have culled, organize like items together and put away. 

**Marie Kondo’s Book:  The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up


Live long and prosper.  Monica Gaylor

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