Minimalism is actually one of the oldest spiritual practices

Chloé Garnham
2 min readMay 18, 2022

It might seem like minimalism is a new concept. The recency of The Minimalists, Marie Kondo, and slews of “tiny house people” might make it seem as though the concept was born from our over-consumerist society. Really, minimalism is as old as time.

Sarah Dorweiler

I recently re-read parts of the Tao De Ching. As I did, I had a realization: the Taoists may have been the first minimalists. And to this day they appear to be masters of it.

Simplicity could be the key to living well

Life for most of us is complicated. The small worries of the day-to-day often get in the way of enjoying the moment. We focus our lives on physical goals without taking stock of the little and simple moments in life.

In our world, busyness is a typical way of life. But living simply may help us to live more presently.

“I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures.” — Lao Tzu.

While modern minimalism focuses on ridding oneself of unnecessary physical objects –– buying less and having less, in an effort to be more. Simplicity steps beyond this concept asking for the minimalism of the mind too.

Mental minimalism is key

Happiness doesn’t come with having physical things –– many of us have realized that by now. But just removing clutter from your home or organizing your things in neat rows, won’t necessarily make you happy –– albeit it could be a good start.

Clearing clutter from the mind –– repetitive thoughts, worrisome ideas, anxieties, unnecessary fears, regrets –– is true simplicity. It’s also the simplicity that can lead to a calmer inner world.

The Taoists believe that a still mind holds many answers.

To a mind that is still the whole universe surrenders. –Lao Tzu.

If you are worried about something, instead of desperately trying to think your way through it, try stillness instead and see what happens.

Let it be still, and it will gradually become clear. — Lao Tzu.

Drop something every day

To remove unnecessary stress, the Taoists believe in shedding rather than growing. Instead of continually accumulating, they have discovered that it is simpler to keep less.

In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired. In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped. — Lao Tzu.

While it’s considered normal in our society to keep gaining more, what if letting go is the real secret?

Chloé Garnham

Writer. Meditator. Traveller. Law Grad. Certified Meditation Instructor.