I don’t remember when I first learned about Minimalism. I knew the term what it meant, but never thought about it a lot until we learned about it in my music history course in college.
I instantly fell in love with minimalist music, then onto minimalist art, design, and dance. Not many of my peers seemed to follow that passion. Everyone liked the concept, but who wanted to listen to music which could have two pitches a minute, a steady rhythm, and every once in a while deviating from that? We learned about John Cage’s 4’33″ composition which is pure ‘silence’. Although it’s not really silence; it’s the background noise of the environment. Minimalist music strives to have as few of whatever as possible. It began in the 1960s as experimental music, originally associated with the New York Hypnotic School.
Minimalist music is hypnotic. I suppose it has to do with our brainwaves syncing with rhythms. We quickly find the pattern and our brain goes on auto. Can more aspects of minimalism be considered hypnotic? Is it able to provide the same feelings in multiple genres?
Lately I have been thinking about minimalism as a lifestyle. There’s a lot of buzz about it these days. People seeking to downsize everything in a world where many just want to chronically add, strive, climb, and have more. Usually material items or status. Thinking about it can begin to get chaotic! So on to deconstructing minimalism.
Minimalism is using minimum elements to achieve maximum effect. It is definitely related to Modernism, which goes back to the pure basics of functionality, while still being beautiful.
Can a minimalist lifestyle be hypnotic too? What is it we are striving for when we decide to downsize? Are we striving for less stress, more meaningful things, to break free of control, to create a comfortable home, to be closer to ourselves/god/people? I think at its core, it’s about increasing pleasure and reducing pain consciously.
I love reading stories of how people get fed up and deconstruct every part of their realities. Then putting it together in a conscious way. There is something raw about it. Many feel scared to do it. Maybe it’s because becoming minimalist requires exposing ourselves and being vulnerable. There is also something sexy about being confident enough to live with less, and knowing what is most important (the minimalists blog & their book Minimalism & Living a Meaningful Life).
They usually begin with the physical. I don’t know why this happens, but I assume it’s because it’s the easiest thing we can control right away when we feel like everything as gone awry. Maybe because things begin to control us. Then usually sometime when they’re decluttering, they begin to think about the internal clutter. And realize that minimalism is not at all about the external.
What else do we have when we no longer have as many physical things to keep our minds occupied. What mental blocks from the past are preventing us from living now? I love the games we can have with our minds to manipulate it into thinking new ways. We will never know if we don’t take that risk. If we don’t take that risk, we can just continue on and carry on just the same. We can always buy it all back if we really want to.
One of these games is to pack up everything you own. All of it. Or maybe just begin by packing up one room, a closet, or even a dresser. You then within a week, pull out only what you need at that moment. After a week or two, you then go through what was left packed and think about it. Then you throw away, donate, or sell.
I suppose things get hard when you’re making choices about items that are sentimental, unnecessary things you worked to buy, things bought just to fit in, for projects never done, and begin questioning what is really necessary for me to function. We soon find that downsizing our lives can also mean downsizing our physical items. Like if you decide to watch less tv, you could sell some televisions, maybe only having one for movies. A lot of us are guilty of these things, and it’s okay. We can move on. What is that point when we say no to bullshit.
Many people who turn minimalist are people who had a lot to begin with. High paying jobs, a lot of expensive things, drama, and a demanding lifestyle. But what about people who don’t have much to begin? How do they see minimalism or define living simplistic? Do you think these people are less likely to seek minimalism? Does living simply relate to being poor? Is someone who doesn’t have many things considered poor? The connotations of these words are revealed when they’re put side by side. It shows me that wealth has been determined by the physical.
But living simply has many definitions. It can mean living with less things, living in an all white house, living without technology, digitalizing everything, living with a small footprint, for religious/spiritual reasons, to be self-sufficient, create more quality time, to downsize, or to be frugal. Living simply still means you can be an artist, still have hobbies, still have lots of fun. In fact, it means you could be MORE of that.
I think living this lifestyle takes creative thinking. It’s also an art because there’s no defining end. You just have to finally say, you are where you want to be. The portrait is done. You have to define what part of being simple resonates with you. Simplicity isn’t bland, it’s supposed to open all that life is to be.