A Minimalist lifestyle | A sine qua non for a spiritual life

Minimalist lifestyle is compatible with meditation

There has been increasing trends of Minimalist lifestyle in various aspects of our life. There has been latest trends from minimalist home to minimalist fashion to minimalist art to minimalist art to software UI. Now the question comes what exactly is minimalism which the media is currently talking about.

Minimalism is the idea of living a life that emphasizes non-possession. Its an idea of sticking the life to the bare minimum. Its an idea of essentialism which underscores keeping and striving for what is essential in our life – keeping in mind its physical as well as mental dimension.

The origin of Minimalism

Minimalism has been the basis of Indian adhyatma including Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. It has been emphasized in Yoga Sutra as aparigraha as one of the Yamas. The practice of Yoga is based on the bedrock of aparigraha or non possession. The Patanjali Yoga Sutra says:

 अहिंसासत्यास्तेय ब्रह्मचर्यापरिग्रहाः यमाः ॥३०॥

Non-violence, Non-falsehood, Non-stealing, Non-cheating (celibacy, chastity), and Non-possessiveness are the five Yamas. (2.30)


The sanyas parampara of all the Eastern religion has been established on the monastic code of non possession. The rules clearly state that the monks have to give up all their possession including home, wealth and worldly relations.

In the Mahayana Buddhism, the concept of Shunyata or emptiness has been represented by minimalist ideas and by negation of all the positive attributes. The flowering of this concept has reached its pinnacle in Zen Buddhism. Zen has expanded the concept from meditation to the visual art from painting to architecture. This is where, the present trend of Minimalism has taken its inspiration. This form of art emphasizes the open spaces which induces a sense of relaxation in mind and releases the cluttering of the thought.

The minimalist layout of garden in RyoanJi in Japan

Minimalism and Spiritual Pratice

There can be no spiritual practice without the mention of minimalism. Until and unless one doesn’t come out of craving of  material possession there can be no spiritual growth.  Any spiritual practice has its basis on physical dimension. So one has to control ones senses.

For example the tongue always craves for delicious food. So the first spiritual practice is aparigraha of tongue. This is done by controlling the tongue and withdrawing slowly from its subjects which is food. Similarly the aparigraha of skin includes facing the heat and the coldness on the body with equanimity.

When one starts from the physical dimension of body and the spirit of aparigraha starts permeating in ones being. Then this aparigraha or non-possession starts to become a part of our mind psyche.

So all the spiritual practice starts from the physical dimension. This aparigraha in physical dimension is the a minimalism lifestyle.

Minimalism and Decluttering  

The first practice is to declutter our living space. This includes:

  1. Assessment of the needs of life
  2. Making the list of things which we no longer need.
  3. Removal of things making into the list by removing the attachment to these things.

It is our decluttered living space which can bring about a sense of emptiness in our thoughts. So we must ensure that  the meditation space must be decluttered.

Minimalism, Modern World and Meditation

The modern world is the epitome of running after our material needs. Our whole ecosystem of economy is based on the unsustainable concept of year on year growth and the unending profits. The capitalist society rests on the belief of creating needs. Because if the needs come to an end there will be no new products launch and the people will become satisfied. This is thing which the modern economy hates.

That is why today we have new models of car launched every year. We have new models of mobile launched every six months so that a sense of need and feeling of missing out can be created among the people. This will coerce them psychologically to pursue the ever increasing needs. And the person gets trapped into the vicious cycle.

This has resulted in a human which is disconnected from its essence or being. The human which is disconnected from its essence soon is blown away from its roots. This is often seen in the form of various mental and physical diseases. Hence in present times we see people running towards meditation centres to relieve their sufferings. But often such meditation practice doesn’t often emphasizes minimalism.

Any true meditation must bring a sense of centeredness or santosha in life and cut short the periphery of meaningless desires.

There is a famous saying in Sanskrit

आशाया ये दासास्ते दासाः सर्वलोकस्य ।
आशा येषां दासी तेषां दासायते लोकः ॥

The people who are servant to their desires are servant to the whole world. But the people who have desires as their servant have the world as their servant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *