Monday, December 21, 2009

The Evolution of An Ancient Practice Helps Keep The Apartment Clean

Back in the 90's I began reading books on a variety of unusual and exotic subjects that are categorized in bookstores as Western Mysticism or Metaphysics. I had always had an interest in these sorts of subjects, even as a child. Weird perhaps, but true. And my interest was reviving itself around this time. One of the many authors I came across was named Sondra Ray and I remember in one of her books she had touched on what seemed a wonderful concept to me, that of clearing your physical space as a spiritual practice. In one chapter she encouraged the practice of picking up your belongings one at a time and asking yourself "Do I love this?" If the answer wasn't "yes," that was the cause to remove it from your world.

I really loved this idea. I discovered quickly, however, that it took more than one question to determine whether or not I wanted to keep something, so I can't say that I cleared a lot initially. A few years later, I came across another expression of this teaching in Karen Kingston's book "Clear Your Clutter With Feng Shui." I had heard of Feng Shui, but didn't know anything about it and this book made the practice very accessible to a beginner. Turns out that clearing one's physical clutter in order to clear one's mind and energy is an ancient idea!

After reading Kingston's book, I did indeed start clearing the clutter physically from my life. I went at my own pace; there were some things I was able to clear right away. Some other things took more time for me to be willing (or able) to throw out or give away. And I have managed to continue periodic reviews, years after reading the book.

My newest exposure to, and latest incarnation of, this idea comes through Everett Bogue, a blogger who writes on the idea of living a minimalist existence. His writing is clear and compelling in his quest to entice all of us to scale down what we have, what we own and what we really need. He makes a strong case for keeping it light as a way to be able to do the things we really want to do. I highly recommend checking out his blog. I have been moved by his reasoning and presentation to approach this subject with new fervor again. And I think I will be writing some more posts going into more detail about it as I go along.

I really love looking at these three writers and how they have influenced me at the stages in my life when they appeared. I really like looking at how they each helped, and continue to help, me to become better at, dare I say "stronger" at, letting go of a lot of the physical clutter in my life. I also really like the way these three authors demonstrate how a wonderful concept for living has evolved out there in the world, for us Westerners especially, to ingest and integrate into our lives.

So this week, this is what I have been doing. I am decluttering. I am minimalizing. I am indeed learning to discern much more clearly what it is that I love or that serves a meaningful purpose and what it is that can go. Partly because it is the end of the year. Partly because I am moving soon. Partly because it's just time to do this. I have very much reached a new stage in my life and development and feel at ease letting my belongings reflect this.

But this can be a hard thing to do. It can be very stressful, emotionally, to go through your belongings and evaluate each one. There are things in the "to go" pile that I have clung to for a very long time. Sometimes that is because of strong emotional associations to an item. Sometimes the reasons are no weightier than that it is something that I have had for so long that it seems odd to live without it. It challenges so deeply that some objects have me wondering who will I be without that thing.

You see how it is then. These memories and associations make their presence known with a great deep bass tone that I feel in my lower back as I handle each object. There are many things about which I will have conversations with myself and through which I will feel the deep bass of memory as I declutter this week. And I look forward to the freshness and clarity that comes from this act.

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