Most of us have some type of clutter in our lives. For some, it is our schedules, for others, it is the material goods in our lives, and for others yet, it is both. In my life, the clutter of material goods is sometimes overwhelming. Having two young children, our home is filled with their toys and books. While I know that toys are good for them to learn about the world around them and have fun and be children, it sometimes feels as if there are just too many. I know some would look at the amount of things my kids have and think they don’t have that much. But L3 creates play for himself out of anything, literally. I love that we have a yard in which he can play and create and enjoy nature. (Today’s find was a snail crawling along!)
But I digress. I feel like I have been struggling with material clutter for years–how to organize it and keep it that way, even before L3 was born. The problem is that over the years we have continued to accumulate things. We have been faithfully trying to purge our home of unwanted/unused/unnecessary “things” all spring. We’ve given a fair amount to Good-Will (lucky for us that it is literally within walking distance of our house), and have had to, unfortunately, throw things out as well that were too damaged or worn to be reused by someone else.
In my constant striving for decluttering, I seek things out to read about the topic. Today I read an article in Yoga Journal (June 2007) by Marilyn Paul. I thought I’d share some excerpts that reverberated with me:
Organizing is also about finding space in your mind so that you can calmly get a grip on your to-do lists, stay present in your tasks, and treat your precious time and home with greater respect. In this spiritual approach to creating order, the focus isn’t simply on overcoming external chaos but also on discovering how you contribute to it and what it’s costing you. The idea is that when you observe your feelings, change your thinking, and build new habits, your environment will change too.
It’s easy to feel frustrated and anxious when you see how you create clutter. If this happens, come back to your intention with an attitude of compassionate witnessing. You might consider yourself a “slob” or “lazy.” But those labels keep you from adopting the strategies that will help you live with more ease. When you resolved to change your habits, you might have even framed “get organized” as your goal. But there is no final destination called “organized.” Being organized is a process of learning to live with more relaxation and presence in your life. Without compassion, you may be tempted to condemn yourself for creating such a mess, vow to get rid of it, and then fall back into old habits.
Spiritual growth comes when you recognize that even the most mundane actions, such as putting props away after yoga, are part of the activity and worth doing with care.
The entire article has been with me since I read it this afternoon. I’d love to hear what others think of these things or other thoughts on clutter in our lives. (BTW–I’m not a regular subscriber to YJ, but this issue has been great so far and I’m not done. I have one other issue from several years ago, and that too was a good read.)