Saturday, April 3, 2010

Mindfully decluttering

This past week something shifted. Or it all just crashed together, a huge wave of STUFF. I had my third melt down in two weeks, extremely abnormal. I may be high strung, but I'm usually not this emotional. As I drove home from my third trip down in three weeks, something clicked.

I have too much emotional clutter. Too much emotional responsibility. I'll have an update soon, but the main thing is that with a full time job, full time yoga practice, working on Coffee and Yoga, Yoga in the Park, two blogs, two email addresses, facebook and a twitter account... life has swept away.

Spring is actually the perfect timing for a de-clutter, opening the windows and letting the fresh air remove dusty winter thoughts. It's also extremely easy to just simply throw everything away, a complete 'purge' so to speak. 

Although purging may feel great immediately (moving from BC to Nova Scotia with only our suitcases really taught me how fantastic it could feel), we- consumeristic North Americans, tend to fill the void with newer, 'better' things. Adding to the forever waste that fills our landfills, oceans and rivers. 

I truly feel there is a balance. Keeping everything 'in case' it will be useful someday is often a mantra I read out here in eco-frugal land. Never throw away, so much guilt with being 'wasteful' and frivolous. At the same time, keeping every little bitty string can slowly build up this wall of panic- a 'I must keep!!!' frenetic thought pattern. Less clarity, more disorganization. A balance is key.

While driving I was listening to a French cbc podcast and the lady, in her beautiful Québécois accent spoke about 'mindfully decluttering'. It was pivotal and very yogic. My plan is to give it a try, not word for word, but in a general sense.

Instead of planning an entire day of 'Mission Purge', where a general sense of exhaustion and overwhelming tend to take over after a short time resulting in 'bah, just dump it!' attitudes, try smaller pockets.

Take on an area, gather up your 'things' and meditate on each item. Give yourself the time to consider the item, your attachments, your memories and whether you really 'need' this thing. Evaluate what feelings emerge, without judgment and let them pass. In this manner of slowly and mindfully removing objects (as that is all they are) we can take some time to meditate with our own collected emotional clutter that we might not have seen creep up over the winter months. 

Recognize that stuff is simply that, and without them our memories and emotions live on.

Although your stuff may not seem necessarily useful anymore, they may help others in need. The last resort should be a garbage bag.

Have separate 'rescue' sections ready- boxes for a transition house, for a local Value Village (or second hand store) and recycling. You may want to keep the transition and second hand store boxes out in storage or in your garage to make one simple trip. Transition and safe houses can use things like clothing, household items even books. 

Another option for bigger items, would be to advertise on Kijiji, craigslist or freecycle. This way, your freedom can help someone else.

The last step- have a firm policy of 'no buy' for a few months afterwards. Trying to filling the void of 'thing' is a compulsion from our culture. Living with less clutter mindfully for a few weeks or months will give perspective. What do we really require, and what can we really live without? 

For myself, this will take on another aspect; decluttering my activities and attachments. I don't *need* to be involved with so many activities, something is causing emotional stress and needs to be let go. However, after letting it build for so long, my first instinct this week was; f*@ it, I don't want to do any of it (including a moment of, I don't want to blog anymore- GASP, I know).

This mindfully re-evaluating and taking small moments of time to decide and let go will assure that my activities are truly where they should be, in line with my priorities and beliefs (as Yogic Dancer has reminded us). I haven't played my guitar in months- I didn't have the time. Which is ridiculous. I need music like I need to breathe. I have been asphyxiating myself...

Energy is precious and I need to value mine :)

Many Blessings!

article copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. We will understand if you need to take a break...but we hope you come back. : )

    I need to declutter my house, more than emotionally, at least the time being. I keep moving the same piles of crap from room to room...

  2. I love the term mindfully decluttering. That is what I'm doing since we are preparing to move. Craig has become my new BF, charities, recycle, freecycle, local bookstore that takes books in on trade. I feel so much better knowing I'm paring down and others is benefiting. After the move I can focus on doing it with nonphysical blocks in my life.

  3. I am right there with you girl! One of my big decluttering excuses is that there is nowhere here to give stuff away - except clothes - and even that I'd rather shred those for rags or give to friends. But all the other 'stuff' - there are no second hand stores and a bit of a cultural hang up with buying people's used stuff - it's changing slightly these days but generally even garage sales are something that expats have and mainly other expats attend. So, what to do, dumping it all seems so wrong but so tempting and the angst over how, why and what to hold on to and let go of spills right over into the rest of my life taking up valuable psychic energy as I spin round in circles - or is it vice versa with the outer environment reflecting the unholy mess that the inner space gets itself into from time to time? Aaahhhh! So yes, I'm right there with you. Good luck. Take care. Happy spring!

    On a pretty funny side note from the universe - my word verification seems to be divalis - like divali festival of light thing that i wrote about back when i was trying to also fit in blogging - and you were my only commenter - thank you!!! Will try again some day when things quiet down a little (so I don't have to leave such long comments on other people's posts! lol) and admire you tremendously for being able to fit it all in :)

  4. Great post! We are constantly purging things through Kijiji. It can be a pain in the bum sometimes, but it's worth getting rid of unwanted items. There were a few items that were really hard to part with. I had a small ceramic owl lamp that belonged to my grandmother that I was storing in our furnace room. It didn't fit the decor of our home, so I wasn't using it. I finally got up the courage and posted it on Kijiji. A grandmother ended up purchasing it for her granddaughter.

  5. beautiful commentary. mentally, emotionally and physically decluttering is SO gorgeous to do for oneself.

    i have had a mentally cluttered weekend myself and just canceled everything, going back into my kitchen and rediscovering my calm in my truffle making. and now, this sunday morning, a walk to clear my head is just dreamy.

    i have a simple house so when a pile gets created, it's a flashing light you know? i have a friend with so much clutter surrounding him in his home, it makes me understand why making decisions and living simply is so challenging for him.

    thank you for reminding.

  6. I love this post! I had a time several years ago when I gave away about 75% of my "stuff". It was so freeing! Many blessings to you.

  7. You're right! Isn't it amazing how the right message can reach out just when we need to hear it? Sounds like an interesting talk you got to listen in on. I agree decluttering can be a much needed thing on all levels--and balance is so often key--something that gets difficult to maintain in our society. I really appreciate that you focused on not throwing stuff away (not that I expected any less out of Eco Yogini!) but it frustrates me to have people just toss stuff w/o thinking about it. My sister and mother are perpetual "hole fillers" (if there's a spot, they'll fill it) and then my sister just wants to get a dumpster every few years and fill it. It drives me batty.

    I hope this next week goes much smoother!

  8. I am in exactly the same situation! I recently switched rooms in my (parents') house, and with it, ALL of my possessions. It was crazy to see the huge pile on the floor. And I really dislike putting stuff away so it's been stewing a while. I definitely need to downsize my possessions, (ALWAYS giving to Goodwill, etc!). It's hard to accept sometimes you just will not use something ever again! I love this post at mnmlist:
    Good luck!

  9. great post! I do this often when I am stuck or feeling unsettled. I feel like it makes space for something better to come into our lives.

  10. Personally, I just watch an episode of Hoarding and it makes me feel:
    1)Not as cluttered (mentally or environmentally) after all....
    2) Gives me a boost to at least tackle one small thing at a time.
    3) When I do declutter I feel like I've lost about 10 pounds. Ah.....
    I lurv Spring....

  11. I did a very bad thing last week. I, too, am feeling overwhelmed by all my recent commitments. The two blog thing alone is harder than I thought, as I'm sure you know firsthand! And business, and writing for Examiner, etc.

    For a long time, everything else but work went neglected. For about six weeks after I opened 5 Seed. I used to work until 10PM every night, even Sat and Sun. Brian and I ate dinner in our separate offices, warming up leftovers and not really spending any time together until we went to bed and zonked out with fatigue.

    Further, there certainly wasn't time to do any chores around the house. My office became the biggest mess - you wouldn't believe it. So much junk and I wasn't sure what I really needed or not. Couldn't quite get rid of it.

    So back to my badness. I got so upset last week when trying to pack an order in the chaos and not being able to find anything that I started ruthlessly throwing things into bags for Goodwill. And when I came upon items that I knew they wouldn't take - I threw them in the trash. I was like a crazy woman. I kept muttering to myself, "I don't care, just get out of my house!"

    So of course, I've been feeling super guilty about it, but realizing, too, that in order to prevent that from happening again, I need to be WAY more balanced. And vigilant about junk.

    I'm happy to say that I've been doing good with that. B and I spent every evening this last week together, cooking dinner together, eating together, and just hanging out - no more working at night. It has been BLISSFUL. You wouldn't believe how much better I sleep now, too! And I'm slowly working on MINDFULLY cleaning out the rest of my office!

    (Wow, I should have just made this into a post at my blog, haha!)

  12. Mindfully decluttering -- I agree with Junebug, such a wonderful term! I've been doing this for a few years now. It always feels wonderful. Most recently, I got rid of perhaps close to 300 books. I had a huge collection of books, books that I've lugged around with me when moving. Well, I finally decided to get rid of the ones that 1) I'll never read and, 2) that I've read and will never read again. It felt really good because books are kinda like shoes for some girls ... I just don't want to get rid of them.


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