“Dismiss whatever insults your own soul…” – Walt Whitman
Have you ever heard the fatherhood bit by Jim Gaffigan on what it’s like to have five kids? The one where he says something along the lines of, “Now imagine you’re drowning. And them someone tosses you a baby?” It always gives Andrew and I a good laugh, and we only have three kids to his five! It’s a vivid picture, but that’s the point. We cannot hold what we don’t have room, strength, or energy to carry, just as we cannot give what we don’t have. Sometimes tidying up and decluttering can also mean expanding our perception of what it truly means to become minimalist in our lives, thereby tending to the mental and emotional landscape of the home inside ourselves (the home of our soul) before we can assume the task of paring down physically in our surroundings and home environment.
If tidying up your immediate space feels entirely too overwhelming right now, consider making and holding soul space in the rhythm of your day to give you more energy and support throughout your journey through mindfulness. Here is an energy practice I invite you to try, something I have done multiple times to clear out negative energy to make space for meaningful action:
Making Soul Space
- Gather a handful note cards, small pieces of paper, or post-it notes and a pen. Ten-fifteen should suffice.
- On each one, write down something that you are carrying either mentally or emotionally, something that keeps surfacing on a loop and sucking energy out of your life. These are things you think about often, often unconsciously throughout the day, and are usually within the realm of your everyday doings. These little things tend to pile up, and before we know it, procrastination tumbles into stagnant living. We are not solving world peace right now, but we are clearing energy to help get you unstuck and moving again, which when viewed through a compassionate lens, can offer you inner peace, which many would argue, is the first step in bringing healing to a suffering world.
- Out of the things you have listed on each card, consider whether or not that particular item is within your realm of control. For example, I am currently carrying around some of (but not limited to) the following:
- Longing to find a new therapist as mine is retiring
- Longing to practicing yoga more consistently
- Longing to work more on certain aspects of my book
- Longing to put the garden to bed
- Longing to have some members of my family better understand my beliefs
- As you can read, some of the above are in my control while others are not. I can find a new therapist with a but of intentional searching and can put the garden to bed with a bit of time, but I cannot control what others think or how they react. Take the pieces of paper that are not in your control and get rid of them. You can ceremoniously burn them, crumple them as you dance, or recycle them. How you get rid of them matters very little as long as you do. Only you are the gardener who can water the thirsty seeds that have been planted in your life.
- Now, you should be left with several things that you’ve been carrying written down on paper in front of you. They might be little or they might be big, but now that you’ve written them down and on a physical sheet of paper, they’ve just become tangible right in front of your eyes. Maybe this is why I am such an avid list maker? Sometimes seeing things that are not easy to touch become easier to do when they can be checked off, I think. When we think about things over and over that we want to accomplish but feel overwhelmed to do, they grow in complication and tend to clutter the heart and mind. This is how our minds and hearts grow weeds. It’s time to prune them.
- Let’s move on to your plan. While looking at the pieces of energy around you, map out a plan for the rest of your week that tends to what you are carrying. Some things will take you much longer to accomplish, while others might take no longer than sitting down to make a phone call. Once you get the ball rolling, inertia will keep it moving in that direction. Hoorah, science! Remember, even mighty, ancient oaks are moving each second, as are small, delicate flowers, even if we cannot visibly see their movement and change. Do one small thing, then do another. This is how you’ll grow into a space of restorative energy.
- While in this space of emotional and mental cleansing, practice giving yourself radical compassion and time to listen. Use the rest of the week to slow down and work on what you’ve written, leaving physical decluttering and tidying for next week (or month, depending). That spice drawer isn’t going anywhere, and neither is your dusty closet. With each heavy task you accomplish, you’re removing negative energy from your consciousness. Feel yourself becoming lighter. As you do this, you are creating healing space within yourself to move forward and do great things – soul space.