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Things the Lockdown has Taught Us About Minimalist & Mindful Living

Posted: September 14, 2020

A few months at home has made us rethink most of our so called “needs”. Is less clutter the path to mindful living? 

Realities of the pandemic and our privileges

I think most of us who could afford to stay back home, have gotten plenty of time to self introspect on what we really need for a meaningful life. Though we feel frustrated in moments of this new experience, we are the lucky ones who are privileged enough to be locked up inside, in comparison to the essential workers who are bracing themselves against the fatal virus.  We are fortunate ones to catch the constant glimpses of the sorrowful state outside, through our masks from a safe distance.

Shockingly, there is a huge shortage of protective gear for the health workers and other essential service providers who are duty-bound to serve us while risking their own lives. In addition to that, we frequently watch the sufferings of homeless, daily wagers as well as migrant workers who are stuck outside,completely exposed to the pandemic without any support system.

A true encounter with the minimalist approach

What wisdom must the described situation bring to us, when we are locked up inside with enough ration to survive, but hunger everywhere around? Looking out from our safe zone, we see stacks of indulgences stockpiled to aid us to make the best impression of ourselves whenever we step outside.

However, in reality we are able to manage on most days by recycling the same set of pyjamas. We have money, but we are surviving without spending it on beauty products, branded clothes, accessories, gazettes, et al. It is a new awakening that, our daily needs don’t require so much money.

A new-found awareness about health

Meanwhile, working from home makes us understand that, we were unnecessarily pushing inside our food pipes, more mugs of beverages and snacks back in our offices.

Comfort eating has put extra pressure on our digestive systems, inviting many health hazards. A new study found that almost all the corona related deaths, had medical history that included hypertension, diabetes and obese. Almost all these ailments are lifestyle related. We have been leading a larger than essential lifestyle, without much self introspection.

Cutting out the unnecessary

What do we do now, with this realization that we really don’t need much for a holistic life? Shall we unburden ourselves from these impulses to hoard, tempted by advertisements rather than necessities? Yes. We must.

As we put on protective masks,the glamorous mask of the advertising industry has come off . Life is not just about possessing things after things for mere physical comfort. It has a serious meaning too, like enriching our mind with noble thoughts and being useful to the world around.

Empathy and understanding for those suffering

The coming days are bound to be hard for people without secure income. Let us donate all that we don’t need to begin with, and slowly, also the things that we can manage without. Let us share this burden as a community. If not, the imbalance will cause more deaths than the pandemic already has.

This period has taught us so many valuable life lessons. We have witnessed before our eyes how infected people suddenly transform to become ‘untouchables’. They suffer alone in hospital beds with uncertainties of life and then at death, are not mourned by loved ones as their body is just disposed off. This is how insignificant, ‘super’ human life appears to be now, in the face of an invisible, deadly virus.

Of course, pillars of national economy will collapse in almost all countries in the coming days. As a result, people have to live with the reality of unemployment, job loss, hunger, malnutrition, domestic violence, crimes, salary cuts, tax hike, inflation to name a few.

This will hit our daily lives hard and we will witness a spike in suicide cases among the unemployed, among farmers or among those who are simply lonely.  There is also a danger of being robbed of your possessions by the needy people for their survival. It is sensible to lighten your back packs by distributing spare things. After all, lesser the possessions, better the quality of your sleep.

We are now having a close encounter with death. In stark contrast, we have been tirelessly striving for the fancy life that the media sells. For a change,  we have awakened to the realisation that a meaningful life has minimal requirements. In these soul-searching moments, let Gandhi, Buddha or Jesus become our role models. As H W Longfellow said, the purpose of human life is to achieve milestones for others to follow, not to indulge in mundane activities.

Image source: Rene Rauschenberger 

Dr. Jyothi, Assistant Professor, Department of English, University College of Science, Tumkur University. Has been

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