The other day I was helping an elderly family member set up her new phone and unless you are a minimalist who barely uses a phone, you may be aware of the hassle involved in transferring data to new phones. But that aside, as I transferred the WhatsApp account, I was blown away by how much most of us hold on to. Perhaps you won’t be able to relate or perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to recognise yourself. Jackpot!
Our apps whether they are in the form of emails, online messaging or social networking apps are so convenient but unknowingly we end up accumulating conversations and before we know it, the normal sight of our WhatsApp or other messaging apps is cluttered with thoughts of other people.
Sometimes we meet self-realised people who show us the way; those who have reached ‘there’. And such was the case with me. As soon as I was imparted with the wisdom behind decluttering, I never looked back. It’s only been about a year since I started clearing out my conversations and I delete them as soon as the purpose is served. Not long ago, I also made sure to exit WhatsApp groups (except those which were required for non-negotiable purposes). It’s absolutely incredible how much mental clutter we can avoid as well as the time and energy we can save from not being part of groups. And now I avoid unnecessary conversations at all costs.
Besides, chances are that just like we ‘keep’ those conversations and revisit them at a later date, we also hold on to numerous conversations, grudges, memories, judgements and ideologies in our minds. Except that they are not as visible as our messaging threads.
This practice of clearing conversations everyday (but keeping important photos of important people (if you see what I mean:)), somehow clears up our minds. The mind becomes devoid of this comfort to fall back into the mindy trap of revisiting old conversations. As it is, our minds are very keen to replay scenarios and conversations in our minds. And when we sit down to meditate, we end up saying ‘Forget enlightenment! Let me go to sleep!’, but every little thing we refrain from holding on to actually helps us become lighter.
How often do we remember something we said to someone and we jump back to old conversations to find it and then contemplate on it. Often we revisit and end up feeling like a victim or we come up with insanely good comeback lines, which we wish we thought of 2 years ago! We thereafter add on more baggage to the situation. But here’s the magical thing, if the conversation is deleted, the thought has to be dropped right there, there is no pursuit, there is no desire, no grudge and no drama.
Going back to the case of this family member, I was unable to restore the old conversations to the new phone due to a lack of past backup. But surprisingly when I cleared this person’s WhatsApp conversations, I felt a wave of sadness coming from her. It’s as if she was having to let go of a part of her being (The messages didn’t contain any important material, unless gossip counts:)).
I do not claim that it is easy to free ourselves of all the things we hold on to, but once we take a leap of faith, make use of our discerning wisdom and have the courage to let go of the past, it can be extremely liberating. I’d say try it to feel free but most importantly it will give your mind a few less things to hold on to.
Of course, life is not black and white, so whenever conversations do not benefit our wellbeing, we must be firm in refusing to entertain them. And another important lesson which I learnt, besides decluttering, is that we do not have to reply immediately because messages are seldom urgent. At other times, messages simply do not require any response at all and groups are not required as such. Exit. Exit. Exit! I also heard that WhatsApp has a ‘block’ button. Just saying.
One other surprising thing which happens when we declutter our messaging apps is that we refrain from starting new conversations just out of boredom. All new conversations must be started mindfully because it is a fresh act of finding the contact and starting the conversations. As opposed to revisiting old conversations and saying a good old hello to quench our thirst for gossip.
Living with less clutter, in any form, makes me appreciate the simplicity with which our Swami lives. The being who truly holds on to nothing but whom the world holds on to…
I know, I know. You must be thinking: “She helped someone set up a new phone and am having to read a whole long post about clearing conversations. Please oh Lord, don’t let anyone ask her to set up anything more complex, she’ll write a book!”:)
Photo credits: My Minion family pic. Just kidding.
Despicable me/Minion movie.