Clearing The Inner Clutter
In popular culture, we’ve seen a surge of interest in decluttering. Marie Kondo’s wildly successful Netflix show featuring the KonMari tidying method has caused a surplus of Salvation Army donations in the New Year. (Side note: It’s a great time to go secondhand shopping.) Gretchen Rubin’s new book, Outer Order, Inner Calm, echoes Marie Kondo’s minimalistic cry to let go of items that don’t bring you joy.
Whether you’re a decluttering skeptic or an avid fan of these tidying movements, both of these women make a good point that clearing outer clutter can make us happier inside. So, what about the reverse? Can clearing the inner clutter through mindful meditation assist us in our quest for outer order?
Meditators certainly think grounding into a sense of inner calm could help their organizing efforts. I contribute to a mindfulness meditation app called Simple Habit, and in the New Year, the app has seen a surge in requests for meditations to help prime the mind for organizing and letting go of clutter.
These meditators may be on to something – mindfulness meditation is linked to greater happiness, a better ability to prioritize meaningful tasks, and an increased attention span. All of these things are helpful when you’re trying to declutter your house to bring you more joy!
In addition, both Marie Kondo’s KonMari method and Gretchen Rubin’s guidance centers on letting go of things that don’t give you joy or energy. Mindfulness strengthens the head-heart connection so that you can more clearly feel what sparks joy and energy for you.
Ready to clear the inner clutter to help you create outer order? Try out these mindfulness-inspired tips to prepare you to declutter:
Start Small – It is much more manageable and fulfilling to set and accomplish small goals. You can clear clutter by type of item (KonMari method), or by area of the house. Gretchen Rubin recommends spending five minutes before bed and/or one hour every weekend clearing clutter. Remember, if you complete your small goal and you still have energy, you can keep going!
Begin with the End in Mind – Set a strong intention for your decluttering efforts. Imagine what your space will look and feel like after you are done. This practice of intention setting harnesses the full power of the mind by linking your conscious will to your subconscious mind.
Connect with Your Whole Self – Before beginning the practice of tidying, spend a few minutes practicing mindful meditation. Consciously link your mind with your breath and body. I recommend several rounds of deep belly breathing to calm the central nervous system and a brief body scan to tune into sensations and signals from your physical body. These practices will help you make decisions and put in effort from a place of groundedness.
When in Doubt, Take a Mindful Pause – If you’re unsure of what to do with a particular item, take a few deep breaths. Notice your first thought (first instinct) and any bodily sensations associated with this item. Finally, become aware of whether the thought of owning/wearing/using this item gives you energy or takes away energy. Your mindful awareness practice can support your tidying efforts to create more joy.
Have you jumped on the clutter-clearing bandwagon? Are there any items you have struggled to get rid of? Does your mindfulness practice help you create more inner and outer order? Please share your questions and comments about mindful letting go and decluttering for inner and outer calm.