At the core of minimalism is the belief that by living with less we create more; more space to be, to live, to love and to do what sets us alight. Many perceive that this is related solely to decluttering and minimising the physical objects we own. While this is definitely a part of it – have you ever considered the same principle applied to our mental being? Mental Minimalism – yep, it is a thing!
I’m sure you’ve experienced it before – lying in bed, ready to sleep but unable to switch off your mind? Running through your to do list one more time, picturing situations that you’re going to encounter tomorrow, thinking ahead about how you’ll get your morning organised. It is ingrained in us to be busy, to have more than enough things on our plate – and a by product of that, is worrying. Essentially, it is ingrained in us to worry.
I often feel like, no matter what I do – I always have something on my mind. I have always been like this, as far back as I can remember, and so largely I have put it down to a personality type. Constantly planning, organising, a to-do list rolling through my brain. And no matter how many organisers or written lists I tried, my brain was always busy. My outer world mirrored my mind – chaos.
How Our Mind Works
Our mind is an amazing tool. It thinks upwards of 70,000 thoughts a day, of which we only register 5% of them on a conscious level. And get this, 90% of them (or more) are generally negative. Whaaat. (When I say negative, this encompasses concern, worries, anxiety, tension, negativity etc). So, on a typical day we are each having this stream of negative thoughts coursing through our body on a subconscious level. This can not only increase our tension, stress and anxiety but also lower our vibrational energy.
And because our mind and body are so intricately connected, what happens in our brain replicates within our body. If we are thinking negative, tense thoughts for big parts of the day our body is flooded with cortisol, and adrenaline as a physical response. The longer this goes on, the more our body becomes accustomed to it. Luckily our minds are totally elastic and can relearn new ways of working! So, with some effort at changing our habits we can then change the way our body is responding too.
So, what is Mental Minimalism?
Just like physical stuff distracts us from what’s important – our thoughts, emotions, memories and imagination clutter and distract us too. 2020 has been a hell of a year, and I think even for the most laid back person, our stress is higher and our minds are ticking just that bit harder. As with anything minimalist – it’s about intention. When we declutter, we are choosing with intention what we want around us. When we declutter our mind, we are not trying to get rid of negative emotions or thoughts – these are 100% part of life – instead, we are being intentional with what we give time to.
For those of you who are like me, and think A LOT, I don’t think that mental minimalism will rid you of that (lol sorry!). However, I imagine that the shift will be that you find yourself thinking of positive things, day dreaming more, imaging upcoming events with excitement, or relaying past experiences in fondness – rather than feeling burdened, busy and burnt out. Mental minimalism will also encourage being more present – really being in the moment and being mindful of life.
The idea of changing your thought patterns and being more intentional with what we take on (both physically and mentally) probably reeks of effort. I get it, it’s hard. And hard things are often uncomfortable. When we try to make changes in our lives, like this, our body doesn’t like the feeling of change. What does it do? It sabotages us – by sending out those SOS signals that “hey! Something isn’t right here!” which is why we get those thoughts like “I’ll start on Monday” or “I’ll just do this one last task before I take on less” or “It’s easier if I just do it all myself”. So yep, it is effort. And it does take time. But the results will be worth it.
The Benefits of Mental Minimalism
In order to really work on our mental load, we have to make changes to the way we live. It’s through those changes that we start to notice the benefits of mental minimalism. While they will vary for each person, depending on the changes that you need to make, some of the benefits include:
- Better health (physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually)
- Vibrating at a higher frequency
- New life circumstances
- The company of like minded, high vibrating people
- A sense of calm and acceptance
- Better spiritual alignment
- More confidence
- Less stress and anxiety
- Better sleep
What do you think? Could you do with some mental minimalism?