“The only journey is the one within.” ~Rainier Maria Rilke
When I look around at the world today, I see so much that we can change.
We all know about the problems: war, violence, poverty, racism, hatred, inequality, exploitation. The list, unfortunately, goes on.
But I believe that we can neither dwell on the negative nor allow apathy to slowly consume us. There is a better way.
We can change the world around us. We can start by changing ourselves – our thoughts, our actions, our habits.
In my own inner journey, I’ve found that both minimalism and mindfulness have been pivotal for me.
Minimalism, also known as voluntary simplicity, helps to shed the physical “stuff” that encumbers us and also results in the extraordinary waste of the planet’s natural resources. How much do we really need? How much is enough? Is a 2500 square foot home filled with stuff necessary for our own wellbeing? The evidence clearly shows that once our basic needs are met, the excess does not make us happy – in fact, it does the opposite.
Mindfulness helps us to focus on our experience, right here, right now. I was shocked to find out that, like most people, I lived my life on auto-pilot: going through my day caught up in my own thoughts rather than experiencing my life in each moment. The practice of being mindful and paying attention to my own experience has helped me to focus on what is actually happening, instead of on what I think is happening. Surprisingly, they are often two different things.
I believe that we can change ourselves and the world around us. Living lightly on the planet with what we need, instead of being weighed down by stuff that we will not be able to take with us when we die, and practicing mindfulness to break out of our habitual patterns of thought and action to truly experience our lives are two practices that can bring about this change.
I will be the first to admit that I am in the early stages of this path, but I am looking forward to the journey.