Every Monday I post Real Life Minimalists, a profile of one of my readers in their own words. If you’d like to participate, click here for details.
This week, I’m happy to introduce you to Heena Modi. Heena tells us the various ways she’s introduced minimalism into her life, even when it’s meant going against cultural traditions and norms. Be sure to check out her blog to learn more!
My name’s Heena Modi. I wasn’t a minimalist in many ways, yet in other areas it came naturally. Over the last few years I’ve been making a conscious effort to apply minimalism to all parts of my life. It’s so empowering and I find it helps de-clutter my mind too.
So let me tell you about my story.
My father passed away in May 2001. Dad was unwell for few months and we knew that he was terminally ill. There were many occasions in which we needed our friends and family to help us out whether it be emotionally or physically, both were equally important. Now this may sound negative but it truly wasn’t. I discovered who we could depend on very quickly. Those who were ‘absent’ didn’t give me a reason to think much but those who, it seemed, went out of their way to make life difficult for us; I lost touch with. This was liberating. I no longer needed to waste my time or energy considering them. I wasn’t mean! I’d be civil, I cared about how they were but it stopped there.
The next big thing…My hubby, Suraj and I went to an event called Mahavir Janma Kalyanak in April 2008. At this event we saw a video about the inhumane treatment of dairy cows. I had no idea that consuming dairy products involved so much violation and pain. This was a huge for us. We went from being vegetarian to vegan. I feel healthier in my mind and conscience. Now although this act was driven by compassion for the animals, it made us become minimalistic. In terms of what we wanted to buy, whole sections of the supermarkets didn’t need to be visited, where to eat out, the options available to us when we went to dine at other people’s homes. It was a great opportunity to be minimal in terms of buying, eating and more. My mind-set changed from ‘why haven’t they catered for us? They know we’re vegan’ to ‘I don’t need to have so many options. One is enough. My body doesn’t really even need this food.’
The spiritual me! For some years I’d craved receiving spiritual guidance that would help make daily living smoother, more harmonious & more peaceful. In 2009 the journey of my spiritual progress took off! Again, being and thinking minimal has been key! The skill is to want less so that we’re more content. To dislike less so we’re calmer. To speak the truth or be silent so that we get in less trouble and cause less problems. To be humble so there are less battles with the ego. It’s great! This focus has made the noise in my mind reduce and it’s helped me be more successful when I’ve applied my mind to positive tasks. It has also made life smoother, calmer and happier.
Our tiny wedding. Suraj and I got married in 2008 and we had a very unusual wedding because we wanted to be minimalist. We wanted to keep it small, we didn’t want lots of family and friends to have to travel, take time off, spend money on outfits etc. AND we wanted to use the money that would have gone into a big wedding into our future. It all turned out well in the end!
Money! I started thinking about whether we could manage with less. I began to question the culture that I’d been raised with! Everyone worked as much as they could. They worked full time and the only time they didn’t work full time was if children or illness came along. For many reasons, including a few whiplash injuries, I started working 4 days a week. My quality of life is better. I feel less stressed and sick leave due to my back health has reduced dramatically.
The other major thing we did which is unheard of in our culture is, we stopped giving and receiving presents. Giving between members of the immediate and extended family is huge! The thing is, reciprocating is as big! We spoke to all our family members and explained that we loved them dearly but we wanted to save them time and money by asking them to stop giving us gifts. We also explained that we were going to stop giving gifts too. This would mean that we could be minimal in terms of things we had in our home and we wouldn’t need to remember who gave us what so that we could return the favour.
We continue to evaluate and evolve but the thread of minimalism is here to stay. Hooray!