Soul-Minimalism is the way to go for spiritual growth

Minimalism as a concept is interesting and sensible. However the term is usually used for material minimalism — reducing one’s possessions, decluttering and living a simpler life. It has a more encompassing meaning, going beyond just material minimalism. The one below explains it better:

Minimalism is a tool to rid yourself of life’s excess in favor of focusing on what’s important—so you can find happiness, fulfillment, and freedom.

I found an interesting article on the types of Minimalism while browsing. According to it, there are those who change their lifestyle so as to not burden the environment (Eco-Minimalists); those who are satisfied with what they have (Enoughists), and those who go for experiences more than objects to satisfy them (Experientialists). But I particularly liked Soul Minimalism, which is defined as:

The soul minimalist cherishes stillness of soul and works to keep mental and spiritual clutter to a minimum. Practices of quiet, mindfulness, stillness, and listening are all important here.

It might sound contradictory, but Soul-Minimalism actually leads to the enrichment and evolvement of the soul. As one grows older, one evolves mentally and emotionally, with the nuggets of wisdom collected over the years, getting newer perspectives on life events, and mellowing down in many ways. Since Minimalism of every kind necessarily involves decluttering, it follows that a sort of mental decluttering is needed in Soul-Minimalism also — to clear space for more important things. It is a wonderful and much- needed spiritual exercise that can be undertaken by anyone keen enough to try it. What is more, it does not involve any lifestyle changes, and yet, can change one’s life for the better!

What I liked best about Soul-Minimalism is that it is all about acceptance and forgiveness – of others, of self. For, just as one is critical of others, one is also sometimes very critical about oneself, which makes it difficult to forgive oneself and move on. This creates an incredible amount of emotional clutter. All this happens mainly because one is not able to overcome the slighted ego.

So the logical first step is to begin letting go. This includes not only material possessions that one does not need or use, but the emotional clutter one has accumulated over the years and decades. Unwanted thoughts and feelings occupy precious space in our minds. Past hurts, slights, unfair treatments, injustice in various forms — all make the mind go on in an endless loop of unproductive and even destructive thought patterns. To stop this loop from playing on, one has to act in a positive way.

But while letting go, it is imperative to let go of the emotions — both pleasant and unpleasant — associated with the event or person. For instance, when someone close moves away, not necessarily physically and seemingly without any reason — it is best not to try and hold on to them. It is said that there is mutual karma to be discharged with every person who comes into one’s lives. Perhaps that karmic debt has been discharged, and they have moved on. Let them go figuratively, as holding on will sour things and create more mental and emotional clutter. This way, even when close relationships end abruptly, they cease to hurt. In fact, as I understand it, Soul-Minimalism involves only letting go of the emotions and not the person. Once this is done, the relationship might even improve dramatically bringing the person back!

Remembering the pleasant without regretting that they have ended, and letting go of unpleasant memories without rancour, is a great decluttering exercise, even if difficult. BK Sister Shivani has explained this very well in one of her talks. She calls everyone we encounter as individual souls on their own journeys, who are completing their karmic cycle in this life.

The next most important thing in Soul-Minimalism is silence. Our elders advised us to observe maun-vrat as a form of spiritual practice. Unfortunately, this has been wrongly interpreted as not speaking but continuing with all kinds of non-verbal forms of communication, including messaging and mailing. Naturally, this does not reduce the ‘noise’. What they meant was to silence the mind, stopping even internal chatter and needless thoughts to spoil its serenity.

While it might not be practical for one to practice maun-vrat on a daily basis, what I call ‘selective’ silence can be practised by everyone every day. This involves holding one’s tongue when there is no need to butt in on conversations that do not concern one. This can prevent intruding into another’s space without invitation, not to speak of, unintentionally saying something contentious. This applies specially to elders, who should definitely practice silence. Aren’t elders supposed to be ‘like children?’ Then, they should be like children of old who were supposed to be best seen and not heard, contributing to Soul-Minimalism, while reducing mental (and physical) noise. I had written about this problem in my series on eldercare. Do check it out here.

Another way of cutting on talking is to look inwards and seeking divine help for answers to conundrums and dilemmas, instead of reaching for the phone to speak to someone and seek their counsel. This is not to say that one shouldn’t discuss problems with friends and loved ones, but always depending on external support to deal with problems is not very conducive to spiritual growth. This also helps prevent the trauma of invalidation from loved ones.

So much for verbal clutter. What about mental chatter and noise? How often do we catch ourselves mulling endlessly over events past and worrying over the future? You might like to check out my post on mental chatter. It is possible to ‘hear’ the silence only if both external and internal noise are stilled. And that silence is immensely peaceful and profound.

Being mindful is also a great way to practise Soul-Minimalism. Even while meditating, one is asked to just concentrate on one’s breath and nothing else. This exercise frees up mental space and resources for more important things, which is the aim of Minimalism.

To conclude, it is best to start with the above steps with additional customised ones to suit individual needs — one step at a time. Be assured that it will free up mental and emotional space for things more elevating and meaningful in one’s life. Having embarked on this journey, and finding it both challenging and satisfying, I was encouraged to share the experience.

Homepage image:


  1. […] things like emotions, and feelings evoked by unpleasant memories.  Mastering this is what Soul-Minimalism is all about, which I am still trying to achieve! […]


  2. Rameshwar Singh · · Reply

    It’s so exhaustive and interesting that one time read will be injustice. I must read at least 10 times. Loved it. Thanks for enlightening me.


Enter the discussion

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: