De-cluttering for the Soul
Out of clutter, find simplicity – Albert Einstein
Over the past few weeks, we have been called to declutter our homes and consequently our lives. This has possibly come about as a result of the changing seasons and the need to let go of what is no longer bringing us joy now that darker nights approach and the cooler weather is upon us.
For guidance and empowerment, we turned to the work of Dana K. White.
Dana writes with both humour and common sense from the point of view of one who had to hit rock bottom herself in terms of clutter before she began what she calls her ‘deslobification process.’ In her book “Decluttering at the Speed of Life” she cheerfully announces that she, like us, was not born with organisational skills like so many of the people that we envy for simply knowing how to declutter and keep a tidy home. We loved her work, and she showed us how to overcome our ‘decluttering paralysis,’ but more importantly, to create the kind of visible success that would inspire us to keep going. We certainly haven’t reached perfection ourselves yet (and if her blog is to be believed – neither has she,) but the truth is that we have all got stuff out of our houses that no longer serves us and, as well as clearing spaces and making the kind of visible difference that improved our mental wellbeing, we made room to invite new challenges into our lives.
What does decluttering do for us?
Throughout the course of our lives, each of us will collect hundreds of items that we may or may not find useful. Some of them are gifted to us by well-meaning friends or family. They may be given with messages of love or because someone thinks that we might need them or find them useful. Some are items that we ourselves have collected because we could see a future where they might come in handy. Some items will have been useful. Perhaps their usefulness has faded but we imagine that we might need them again in the future. Some have been kept because of sentimental reasons. They remind us of a time or place where we felt happy or accepted. They might invoke precious memories of a loved one. Whatever the reasons for hanging on to these items, at the time of acquisition, we or those who gifted them had the best of intentions.
When we pick up an item, we know if it is something that we cannot possibly part with. Those items are easy. We can put them back. But what about the items that cause us to stress about whether we want to keep them or not? Those are the ones we are referring to. The ones that take all our energy by creating internal conflict. The ones where we have an argument both for and against. That’s clutter.
Why is it so hard to let go of clutter?
Whatever our reasons for deciding to keep and store an item of clutter, be it sentiment, connections to memories of good times or loved ones, perceived future usefulness, guilt, obligation or thrift, the truth is that if we cannot let it go – we are attached. This means that the thought of letting go invokes fear. Fear of missing out or going without, of reducing material comfort, of offending another person or of the fading of precious memories that seem to keep us connected to those we love.
Detachment is the prerequisite to enlightenment – Diana Cooper, A Little Light on Spiritual Laws
Detachment is a spiritual goal. Everything and everyone that we are attached to has the capacity to have our energy used in connection with it. That’s OK. We are not suggesting that we should all aim for complete detachment. There are loved ones and precious things in our own lives that we would never wish to be parted from. Attachment, however, to things from a place of guilt or obligation will result in resentment and in turn generate negative body chemistry associated with stress, and attachment due to perceived future usefulness flies in the face of all things mindful.
We are only suggesting that attachment to large numbers of items that might not hold a great deal of importance to us in the grand scheme of things – might constitute a drain on our energy.
Everything that we have kept, needs to be thought about, housed, displayed, dusted, found if required (if we even remember that we have it,) mended (if and when broken) and tidied away when so many things have accumulated that it is among those that have been dumped in an inappropriate place. It also has the potential to pull our thoughts from the present moment into the past to which it is connected or into the future where we might need it. We might actually want to conserve our energy for the things important to us that we just mentioned - We might want to practise a little discernment.
Why does decluttering make us feel better?
As within, so without – Diana Cooper, A Little Light on Spiritual Laws
This quote refers to the Law of Reflection which we wrote about in a recent article.
Everything that enters our awareness in a reflection of that which resides in our psyche. When the amount of clutter in our living space becomes unbearable to us, the cluttered nature of our psyche is reflected, and it causes discomfort. When we choose to let go of our attachment to things that no longer serve us, we create space within the home. When we create space within the home - we create space within the psyche for new ideas and creativity to blossom.
Find a place within your home that you love to sit
Make it comfortable with blankets and cushions
Maybe light a scented candle or some incense
Perhaps put on some beautiful music
Create a special place for yourself that is pleasant
Sit in a relaxed position with your spine straight
Love your space
Take you awareness to your breathing
As always, allow your breaths to slow and deepen
And gradually and slowly lengthen the out breath
Invoking a feeling of deep stillness and calm
Now, in your mind’s eye
Follow the breath as it fills your lungs with space
Get a clear sense of that space expanding with each inbreath
And relax as you breath out
And let go
Imagine the space that you create on each inbreath
Expanding further into the area around your body
Without increasing the volume of the breath
Imagine the space
Pushing further and further
Out into the room in which you are sitting
And on each outbreath
Relax your body
And let go
Let go of anything that you have been holding on to
That has lost its use
That you are holding onto
Out of a sense of obligation or guilt
That you are holding onto
Just in case
Your future Self
Might want or need to use it
Set yourself free
On each inbreath the space all around you
Until you cannot reach the edges
And you find that you are floating
In a blissful bubble
Of pure and infinite
Set the intention
To create space within your life
To let go of your attachment
To the physical things
That you no longer have a use for
Those things that are taking up your energy
Both physically and emotionally
You deserve space
Space to live
To love the people and things
That are of the highest importance to you
Now bring yourself back to full awareness
With a renewed enthusiasm
For the spaces that you create for yourself
And if you like – you can start to declutter
For more insights and a host of tools and techniques for exploring the Self and improving your
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