Less Is More: Spring Decluttering Rituals & Tips
“Clutter is not just physical stuff. It’s old ideas, toxic relationships and bad habits. Clutter is anything that does not support your better self.”
–– Eleanor Brownn
Spring is the season for clearing. As we empty our closets to make room for lighter clothing, we prepare for new beginnings. Especially meaningful, since it awakens us to something that occurs each day and often goes unnoticed… change. And instead of resisting the inevitable, we go with the flow of the current and evolve.
Clutter and attachment go hand in hand… Speaking as someone who is able to function well amidst disorder, I can tell you, it’s not preferable and definitely creates confusion. Like trying to steer a boat through dense fog, navigating life goes much smoother when we can see where we’re headed. Regular Yoga/meditation practice trains us to release thoughts that weigh us down. Similar to destructive mind-chatter, clinging to clutter also creates barriers.
Glance around at your surroundings… Does it seem as though messes have magically accumulated without your consent? Almost as if clutter-fairies snuck into your home while you slept, messed up your stuff and left dust bunnies under your bed. If we aren’t mindful of our actions as time passes, layers of possessions can grow and spiral off, like stars in their own solar systems.
So if we accept that our outside world is an on-going manifestation of our internal one, then our thoughts and desires choose each possession. It’s us… We decide how and where each item will be placed in our home. Also how long it stays. And while it may not seem like it, we control the entire cycle of every single item we possess. Think about that…
Organization Guru, Marie Kondo, author of the international bestseller, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” star of her own Netflix series, and creator of the KonMari Method, believes it’s crucial to get rid of as much as possible first; then, organize what’s left. Kondo famously tells people to only keep things that “Spark Joy” and stresses the importance of tidying as a daily habit. Kondo also advises trusting your intuition when it comes to deciding what to toss, instead of letting your intellect cloud your judgement. But before trashing a beloved item, Kono advocates saying a proper goodbye to the object, thanking it for its service.
A few years back, I took a workshop with Swami Vidyananda, from Integral Yoga, about decluttering. And it was illuminating. In a soft-spoken wise tone, the Swami spoke about how physical objects complicate our lives. She asked us to think about familiar possessions we surround ourselves with and decide if we are using each item... or if it’s using us. By that she meant: are we dusting, making room, expending mental energy on it, when the object serves no purpose? If so, then it was time to detach. She also asked us to think about what would happen if we gave that object away… and imagine the pleasure it might bring someone else. In a sense, she implied, it would take on new life.
Alternatively, if the object was in disrepair and we threw it out, Vidyananda assured us that letting the object go would feel good. With a warm smile, she advised us we make different piles when deciding what to eliminate. And the gist of it was: keep, donate, toss, and undecided.
Ever wonder what’s lurking beneath the surface? Decluttering is more than just cleaning. It gives us a rare window into our psyche. I think of it like an active art installation that represents our lives. One that involves a space where we can move around freely, shift, remove and reorganize elements, according to our wants and desires. The result being, lasting change.
Here are some ways to embrace the challenge with awareness...
Objects of Desire
Which items do you find difficult to toss? Pick one of those hard-to-let-go objects. Take a deep breath and use it as a tool for reflection. Ask yourself, why can't I release this? Become curious. Dig deeper… Write in a notebook all the reasons you want to hold on. Put the thoughts down as quickly as possible without judgment, reading, or backtracking. When finished, take a breath and pause… Read back what you’ve written. Think about where your ideas stem from. Do they remind you of anything else you didn’t want to let go? Maybe an earlier memory. Get down to the root of the attachment. Explore… Once you have the facts, decide the object’s fate: keep or toss? Go with your first impulse. Repeat this process each time you feel conflicted about an object.
Sit comfortably with your eyes closed. Breathe through your nose into your abdomen, then exhale. Envision the place you wish to declutter. With your mind’s eye, recall the most cluttered areas. Observe without judgement as you breathe. Now, imagine a clear white space with no belongings and drenched with rays of sunlight. Rest in this awareness. Experience the warmth of your new space. Notice how it makes you feel. After five minutes, imagine that same space filled only with objects you love. Linger here for at least three more minutes. Then open your eyes. Return to physically clearing your space.
Clarity & Flow
According to Feng Shui, fresh air and quality light are essentials to maintaining healthy energy, since they nurture life itself; the energy in our home ought to move freely and mirror how it occurs in nature. So… examine the sources of natural light in your home. If windows are difficult to reach or partially blocked, clear them. Make sure they are opened frequently, ideally once a day. And if you still feel stuffiness, consider getting an air purifier to avoid stagnant energy.
Streamline & Prioritize
When it comes to clearing out wearable items, ask yourself these questions: When have I last worn it? Does it hold sentimental value? Will it do someone else more good than it does me? How do I feel when I wear it? Do I love it? If you haven’t worn it in more than three years, it doesn’t hold sentimental value and you don’t love it, then ask yourself: why do I want it? Can I live without it? What will happen if I donate or dispose of it?
Does your computer desktop resemble your physical space? Take time to go through old documents, folders, emails, then trash what’s no longer needed. Make sure you create empty areas. Then look at your home: assess how easily you can move through. Is there a clear path? Or are obstacles blocking your way? According to Feng Shui, clutter creates sluggish chi because it block your natural energetic flow. Find places to create negative space… walls, floors, closets, tabletops. Spend time choosing areas that feel right. And commit to keeping those areas cleared daily.
Decluttering can be a subtle yet powerful mindfulness practice. Sociologist and author, Elise Boulding, once said, “The consumption society has made us feel that happiness lies in having things and has failed to teach us the happiness of not having things.” And it’s true… there is beauty in simplicity. As we remove obstacles, we gain deeper understanding of ourselves, allowing our innate creativity, wisdom and intuition to flourish.