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Decluttering and the Meditative Life

August 17, 2009

Was wondering what I’d blog about this week and a trip to our sunroom screamed “decluttering” to me. I hate to say why, but I’m sure you can guess. The sunroom has become a storeroom for our business — full of boxes for things received, bubble wrap envelopes for CDs to mail, and all sorts of related stuff. Richard is great at keeping things neat. His tolerance for clutter is way lower than mine. But still sometimes we get busy and the boxes start to take over. Hence the room’s cry for help. Well, truth be told, hence the cry for help by my psyche!

As soon as I walked in the sunroom, I felt the energy of the clutter. It’s unpleasant to say the least! I’ve promised myself to take care of it by day’s end. In fact, I’m actually looking forward to doing it. I find decluttering to be a lot like meditation. It’s a kind of meditation-in-action for me. It has the same calming and grounding effect when I do it in a relaxed, non-pressured way. It has to be done in a loving way. It can feel so self-nurturing when I’m not chiding myself for what I find, for having let it get out of control. It feels good when I allow myself to be there, fully present to all the sensations, emotions and thoughts that accompany the work, and that includes being present to the self-critical part of me! If I’m present to that self-critical part, I have a chance to cut myself some slack. It feels good when I allow myself to relax into it — when I give myself “all the time in the world” to do it, not being pressured by the clock.

Is this sounding at all like meditation to you? It does to me. It’s the same art. Meditation is all about the art of living, the art of how we do things. How we do something is totally about how we handle our inner world — how we handle our thoughts, emotions and the experiences that come our way. We can make decluttering a meditative experience. Instead of starting out with a logical plan, I like to just dive in. I enter the room or area that needs to be cleared and organized and just start — taking one step at a time as my intuition guides me. It’s so much more relaxing that way.

I read an article with all sorts of tips about decluttering — practical things to do. It sounded so intelligent, logical, effective. But I balked at the idea of following some rules, of having to things set up and plan in advance. That’s the way that person decluttered — it worked for them, but I can guarantee you that they didn’t start out with that list. That’s just how it developed as they did it and then they said — wow, that worked — now I can tell someone else how. I much prefer to get in there and discover how I do it. Like meditation, it’s an exploration that reveals my own path to me. If I start out with a instruction manual, then I think there’s a right and wrong way to do it. I start getting awkward and ignoring my own intuition and inclinations. What’s more it becomes work when it can be play!

It’s like writing this post. I had no idea when I started where it would take me. I just started writing and discovered where it took me. Just like meditation. Just like life.

Comments

9 Responses to “Decluttering and the Meditative Life”

  1. karthik on August 17th, 2009 10:41 pm

    I like your last sentence for your spontaneity. Many of my blog posts are spontaneous too.. No real bullet points to expand on, just write with the flow. I might just as well go with the flow in life!

  2. Andrew on August 19th, 2009 8:39 pm

    This is so true…I’ve always wondered why i find decluttering to be so relaxing and calm-inducing Seems I’m not going mad! Remember feeling terribly anxious a couple of weeks ago (I suffer from chronic fatigue and get stressed easily, naturally this impacts on my energy levels and as a result I feel weary and irritable), and my room had been getting progressively more and more untidy and in a state of disarray; heaps of old paperwork, books etc, just clutter EVERYWHERE. I took one look at my room and thought; this will only stress me out more, but it needs to be done. Low and behold, after 10 minutes I found myself feeling strangely soothed, like the action of puttings things neatly into place was having a sort of hypnotic, harmonising effect on me. I felt more relaxed than I had in ages, it really did feel meditative!

  3. Mary on August 20th, 2009 8:48 am

    Beautiful, Andrew! That’s how I experience it. Anxiety can be disorganizing, scattering our attention. That creates clutter which adds to the feeling of disorganization. It’s a vicious cycle of sorts. It seems like decluttering is a kind of antidote!

  4. Charlene on August 21st, 2009 4:01 pm

    Funny that I read this email today ~ *right after* I decluttered my living room! It had been piling up with boxes from items I ordered for my upcoming wedding. I kept the boxes for the small chance that I would have to return something. The last couple of weeks, where I normally would do my meditations in my sunny, peaceful living room, I ended up doing my meditations in my bedroom because it was more calming in that space. Tomorrow, I feel that I’ll be able to get back to my normal meditation routine, since I’ve restored that sense of calm. :-)

  5. Mary on August 21st, 2009 6:42 pm

    Funny coincidence, Charlene! Clutter definitely robs a space of its calm!

  6. yournontoxiclife on September 6th, 2009 6:11 pm

    I have been thinking of writing a post on this! I find decluttering to be a way to put me in the moment. The end result always gives me “ease” and that really makes me feel like I am doing something so positive, so uplifting, it IS a meditation.

  7. Mary on September 7th, 2009 9:23 am

    That’s my experience as well. So far I’ve only heard from one person (on our Facebook page) who finds decluttering stressful.

  8. Judy on November 1st, 2009 12:36 pm

    I read this sitting in my house feeling like I am drowning in clutter. Normally I can let it ride but right now it feels as though it is swallowing me up and sapping all my energy. My perfectionist nature means that I struggle to start as I just don’t know where to begin the task is so huge and I can’t bear the fact that it feels as pointless as shovelling snow in a blizzard with a young family. Your blog has encouraged me to turn off the critical voice that’s telling me that it’s not worth trying because I realise what it’s really saying is that I am not worth it. I am going to forgive myself my imperfection of being untidy and when the time feels right I know I can pick a spot, do some and not be put off because I hadn’t time to do it all. Thanks for helping me turn off my critic and realise that whatever I can do is just fine.

  9. Mary on November 2nd, 2009 10:15 am

    You are so welcome, Judy. Whatever you can do IS just fine!

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