Updated: Sep 26, 2019
Can simplifying your life really increase health and well-being? We have all heard of the minimalist movement and slow living concept, but what does it really mean to actually live it? And in doing so, what are the benefits?
I myself was keen to explore the idea because in Ayurveda, simplicity and moderation is seen as the key to good health and longevity. So, the past two years or so I have been conducting an experiment to introduce simplicity or minimalism into almost every element of living. My lens on daily activities has shifted significantly and my goodness how things have changed for the better. In simplifying my diet and cooking, material possessions, finances and daily routines, I suddenly find myself with more time in my day, greater flexibility and increased enjoyment in each moment. With simplicity ultimately comes peace, as there is less to consume the mind on the surface level and more room for immersion and creativity.
I chat to clients all the time about their day to day living and often get the response of individuals feeling overwhelmed, stressed, tired, scattered, all consumed and with some form of anxiety or depression that comes as a side effect. As for so many, there is a sense of being the mouse on a big wheel running around and around, not really doing anything to the standard they would like, or with the enthusiasm that creates long term happiness.
So what ways can we simplify our lives to alleviate some of this mountainous pressure that is being felt everywhere? I would love to share with you what I have discovered in mastering the art of simplicity and increasing well-being through the process.
ALLOW MORE TIME
Generally, everything always takes longer than what we expect. Simple home maintenance is never simple, a trip to the supermarket is always longer than anticipated and a meeting generally has more to cover than what is on the schedule. What if we were to do less, in more time and to a better quality? Instead of six key things to do in your day, how about 3? This changed my world astronomically. At the end of everyday, it is never all done anyway – there is more washing in the basket, another email has arrived and tomorrow, meals need to be cooked and deadlines to be met. The simplification I implemented to combat overwhelm was this: for every task I allow double the time I believe it will take. Therefore, I have time for transitions, some food and drink and any curves balls that come with the activity. I also found that I have been completing tasks to a higher standard and my sense of pride in what I do has increased. Strangely enough, I am actually getting more done because I am properly fuelled, grounded and focused.
AVOID LIVING BEYOND YOUR MEANS
Simply put, if you don’t have the money for it upfront, don’t buy it. Except for maybe home, vehicle purchases and medical fees, there really is no need to be buying more than what we can afford. What I have found to be true is that having something that comes at a massive price financially also comes with an exchange for inner peace and well being. We need so much less than what we think and often it is a quick filter you use before making a purchase: is this a necessity? As a good friend once told me, “the more you have, the more you have to worry about”.
BUY LESS, BUT HIGHER QUALITY
Especially when it comes to your wardrobe and material goods like furniture. In today’s world clothes and furniture are cheap and highly accessible. Therefore, we find ourselves buying more but disposing of it often just as quickly. So to avoid constant turnover, more shopping trips and general clutter I now buy less clothes and less for the home, but wherever possible high quality and classic. That way, you can highlight simple beauty with greater ease and it lasts longer. Better for you and the environment too.
EAT FEWER THINGS AT ONE TIME
Ayurveda advocates simplicity in food to ease digestion and assist with proper nutrient assimilation. However, in my experience, it also tastes that much better and so much easier to prepare when you work with and highlight a few key ingredients in your meal. Select one protein instead of two or three, two or three veg instead of five and one high quality grain of some description. There is less for your body and taste buds to combat. Turns out, you also save a lot of time in food prep and creation.
CULTIVATE ROUTINE & RITUAL WHEREVER POSSIBLE
There will be more of this topic covered in articles to come, but in short, from an Ayurvedic perspective we know routine and ritual for daily living actually grounds and strengthens all three doshas. Basically meaning that every body type or constitution benefits from it. Typically, to help focus the mind and strengthen the body, routine in the morning and night is most beneficial. Carve out and prioritise self care in your day just as you would returning an email or taking an appointment. Ultimately, you can’t pour from an empty cup. Both in the morning and evening, take time to look after yourself with warm baths or showers, self massage, clean clothes, meditation/yoga and some time spent in nature. An early morning jog or light stroll after dinner. The restoration in your day must be equal to the output. If not, it is only a matter of time before the overload takes its toll.
Eckhart Tolle states that we must “realise deeply that the present moment is all we have.” It is true on every level and we should continually reflect upon how we spend our precious existence. Are we present, immersed and grounded in the moments of our lives or flying through them scattered and with one eye on what we have just done or what is to be done next? If that’s the case, it could easily be argued that we end up at the end of each day not really knowing how we got there or with a feeling of emptiness, frustration and overwhelm. The little daily activities that we deem as insignificant or passing through are actually the grand total of our lives right here and now. Why not enjoy them and experience them to the fullest?
With love and light,