Less Is More; A New Habit

By Jo Mooy

I learned the phrase, “less is more” while in art school in the 60s. It describes simple and minimalist forms of expression in art and architecture. It felt like Zen art, though no one called it that. Long after studying the artists and architects who adhered to that style, the phrase stayed with me like a mantra. When reading wordy literature or wandering around the Baroque cathedrals of Europe “less is more” would float to mind as the ornate sculptures and paintings dazzled or begged the question, why? The same phrase often surfaced when I found myself in the tediousness of never-ending corporate meetings that numbed the senses.

Too much clutter in life calls for a “less is more” approach, so it was easy to see this philosophy subtly influence in the outer world As I embraced this philosophy, I noticed that businesses were changing their customer service levels. They put the customers to work for the business, defining “less is more” in a new way. It was not done for aesthetics, but clearly for profit. If you needed gas for the car, for example, you pumped it yourself. If you went to retail store to buy something, you scanned, paid and bagged your own items. When that model claimed the restaurant industry, I began to wonder; I thought that ordering food through an iPad instead of a waiter might reverse the phrase and prove that less was not really more.

All was not as it seemed, and other forces also were at work changing business models. Factories that once employed thousands were now doing the same work with dozens of robots and a couple of guys. The consumer-oriented society that had been propelling manufacturing for decades began to shift. Somewhere along the way, consumers realized they didn’t really need or want all those things they were buying. Instead, they began to divest themselves of their big “McMansion” houses—and all the stuff that went into them. Aging demographics pushed people into downsized condos, and tiny houses and small mobile homes became the rage. At the same time, recycling programs were established in every state, allowing plastics, papers and other products to be deconstructed and used for or made into something else.

The “less is more” phenomenon wasn’t restricted to business. Other systems like science, medicine and religion were affected.

Quantum physics, in a tribute to “less,” stripped away everything and reduced the observed world to particles or waves. Homeopathy was another discipline that clearly showed less is more. This alternative health practice treats diseases by rigorously diluting the medicine. In another case, pain management used to be controlled only with toxic medicines. Now, the pain also is mitigated with acupuncture needles, using less destructive treatment options. And, finally, religion lost its allure when polls showed more people identifying themselves as spiritual instead of belonging to a religion. Spirituality stripped off the pomp and rhetoric and instead focused on the essence of the teachings. It recognized the common truth in all religions that God (or an Eternal Spirit) was inherent in them and they abiding in IT.

It became obvious that spiritual studies were not immune to the new habit of “less is more.” The inner work also needed simplification and uncluttering. Daily meditations were restructured. The elaborate rituals were discarded and replaced with focused breath-work practices and simple intentions. Generic “prayers for peace” were peeled back revealing that the real prayer was for personal peace within. Within that realization the real work had begun in earnest.

“Less is more” can be applied to every facet of our lives. It begs strict observation and a surgical assessment of the value of everything. It’s not easy nor does it call to many to do. But, when everything is stripped down to its “Zen factor,” only then can we develop an awareness of our excesses and experience the insights that will propel us to a new level of consciousness. That’s the ultimate value in developing the “less is more” habit. It’s when we learn that everything we really need is already provided.

Jo Mooy has studied with many spiritual traditions over the past 40 years. The wide diversity of this training allows her to develop spiritual seminars and retreats that explore inspirational concepts, give purpose and guidance to students, and present esoteric teachings in an understandable manner. Along with Patricia Cockerill, she has guided the Women’s Meditation Circle since January 2006 where it has been honored for five years in a row as the “Favorite Meditation” group in Sarasota, FL, by Natural Awakenings Magazine. Teaching and using Sound as a retreat healing practice, Jo was certified as a Sound Healer through Jonathan Goldman’s Sound Healing Association. She writes and publishes a monthly internationally distributed e-newsletter called Spiritual Connections and is a staff writer for Spirit of Maat magazine in Sedona. For more information go to www.starsoundings.com or email jomooy@gmail.com.


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