One of the main lessons Yoga teaches is “be present”. Essentially, we learn to honor a given moment and whatever it may hold — physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually and/or energetically — and let go of the rest.  This practice leads to a more equanimous/peaceful existence, rather than one that constantly reacts to sensation.  This practice also leads to questioning the small and large parts of our lives like, “Is what I’m doing (now or in my life) important?”, “Is this *object* important?”, “Does this experience/object/choice/sensation provide true fulfillment? Or only momentary satisfaction?”, “Am I filling my life and time with that which is important for my Happiness, or am I simply filling my life and time?”  Lately, I’ve been compelled to really look at what fills my life and my focus fell on all the “SCHTUFF” filling my home … and I felt a little ill.  It was past time to declutter.

I do tend to get an idea or project in my head, get excited, get started and then get completely overwhelmed and never finish the said project.  I’m self-aware enough that I decided to 1) enlist help and 2) view this project with a Yogic eye.  Now, I’m not actually having anyone come in and do this for me.  But I did ask my partner to continually help me remember I can take it in steps —  I didn’t acquire a household worth of extra stuff overnight, it’s more than likely going to take me time to declutter and streamline.  And holding a Yogic, “moment by moment” viewpoint can only help me manage to stay present and take it all step by step.

New Baker's Rack

The Baker's Rack now holds cookbooks, magazines, mixer, etc., leaving more space on the counter!

Part 1 — The Kitchen
Since my roommate moved in about a year and a half ago, kitchen space is at a premium — we both love to cook, we both love herbal teas/medicine and the kitchen shows it.  BUT, we had virtually no room to actually work in the kitchen!  I took this room in a couple steps. Initially, I rearranged our big, glass jars full of bulk herbs, organized our cookbooks and magazines, went through cabinets, in general, creating as much working counter-space as possible.  However, the opportunity to buy a beautiful (used) baker’s rack manifested (amazing how that happens, isn’t it?) and guess what?  I now have more counter space in which to work.  This has returned to me the meditative joy of cooking.

Part 2 — The Home Office
Facing my home-office desk, a.k.a “the thing in the corner holding my laptop and all those stacks of paper” was a daunting task. But I remembered what I often say to my students, “The hardest part of practice is walking through the door.”  The hardest part was just getting started.

My new (to me) filing cabinet.

My new (to me) filing cabinet helped organize piles of paper.

I *knew* there’d be some paper that needed to be saved (the tote I used under the desk was jamm-packed!), so again, I made a small investment, this time a used filing cabinet. Then I grabbed a couple paper grocery bags — one for recycling, one for shredding — and dug in.  And I got brutal.  If I truly needed to keep something for tax purposes, or legal reasons, I filed it. If it was a piece of reference material I hadn’t looked at in over a year, I disposed of it in the appropriate bag.  Old copies of the article I had published and kept around for some unknown sentimental reason (I had the original in my porfolio) … recyled!  And guess what?  I needed a lot more bags.  And now I find myself much less reluctant to sit down at my desk and take care of business.

Part 3 — My Clothes
I applied the same type of logic to my two bedroom closets and a clothing tote stored in the attic.  If I hadn’t worn an item on a regular basis and I had no plans to, it went into the “donate pile”.  If an item didn’t fit — too big or too small — it went into the donate pile.  If I’d been holding onto something needing repairs for over a year, it went into the “throw out” pile, because I clearly wasn’t going to take the time to get the repairs done.  And guess what? My clothes now fit into ONE closet, my “donate pile” is HUGE and I no longer have need of a tote in the attic.  Not only do I have more space, and I feel good about donating a lot of clothing (including a lot still with tags on them!) to those in need, but psychologically, I found a lightness.  Gone the guilt of not wearing something, or the guilt of no longer fitting into an item of clothing, or the guilt of having once fit into an item.  There’s now space in my closet, and space to breathe when looking in it.

The De-cluttering Must Continue
I’m certainly not done with my decluttering process.  But I’ve taken the first steps and it FEELS GREAT.  This process feels just like when I’m on my mat and I find myself physically opening within an Asana, yet this time, it’s a mental opening.  I’m actually excited to continue this process, to keep finding space.   However, my very next step is to wrangle that “donate pile” into my car and actually donate it!  Wish me luck.

How About You?
How do you approach clutter/de-cluttering? Are you a sweep-it-under-the-rug person? Or are you a zen master and there’s never any clutter? (if you are, please share how you do that! *grin*) Have any tips or ideas for creating space?

Decluttering Resources:
10 Ways to Declutter Your Home: http://www.lifeorganizers.com/cm_articles/102_10_ways_to_declutter_your_home_280.html

Clever Home Office Solutions:
http://theinspiredroom.net/2008/04/03/clever-home-office-solutions/

24 Smart Organizing Ideas for Your Kitchen:
http://www.realsimple.com/home-organizing/organizing/kitchen/smart-ideas-kitchen-00000000013845/index.html

And a good article at YogaSanga on why decluttering space is a great way to declutter the mind:

Namaste.

2 Responses to “Decluttering … a way to find (a little) peace of mind?”

  • Megan says:

    Oooh, this is quite the inspirational post as I would LOVE to tackle the clutter that coats each and every one of my rooms. I am going to print it out and use it as a reference. 😉

  • Hiking_Yogini says:

    Megan, so glad I can provide some inspiration! I’m finding that taking one bit of a room at a time is more manageable than even trying for one room at a time. But if feels SO GOOD to streamline and simplify! 🙂

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