Yoga and meditation can help us return to our natural state of flow but if you’re living with any type of clutter (physical, mental or spiritual) it’s likely to be short lived.
Clutter claws at our consciousness and creates unnecessary chatter in our minds. To me, decluttering is a vital part of the puzzle if you seek to become more focused and present.
In our modern lives we’re already bombarded by all sorts of excessive stimuli. Clutter in our home (not just our physical home but the collective areas we live our lives) adds to this causing sensory overwhelm. Our brains need space to focus and create. If you’re sitting in a cluttered room it’s mighty hard to meditate effectively or even just be truly present in the moment.
The clutter around you is a constant reminder that there’s always more to do and it’s shown to cause distraction. It’s hard to settle your mind and focus when you’re inundated with emotions about the surrounding clutter. Perhaps it’s embarrassment that you’ve not dealt with it; maybe guilt about letting your home get that way; even resentment over items you want to let go of but feel you shouldn’t as they were gifts. Frustration is common if you’re frequently wasting time searching for things you can’t find.
Anxiety often accompanies clutter and that’s exactly the opposite of what you’re trying to achieve through implementing mindfulness in your life.
The overwhelming majority of participants who practice mindfulness meditation do so to alleviate emotional distress (according to Mindfulness Journal). It’s said that clutter is a mirror of our internal emotional state and reflects the inner clutter. However we’re also causing internal stress by collecting too much “stuff” in our homes (studies show a strong link between raised cortisol/stress in women and a high density of items in the home).
Clutter is stagnant energy, a resistance to our flow state. Releasing clutter in your life releases that resistance allowing you to receive more energy and abundance. Letting go of unnecessary items in your home can release some of that internal clutter. It’s an upward spiral because as the density of belongings reduces, the pressure releases and you find yourself more able to focus and relax. In turn this makes you more present, productive and fulfilled, naturally enhancing your feelings of wellbeing.
This is how to start tackling your clutter in 6 simple steps:
1- Start with Clear Surfaces
Clutter steals a bit of your energy every time you look at it. Stuffing everything in drawers and cupboards isn’t the answer but clearing surfaces can be a quick win to create a sense of relief.
Try putting surface clutter into a box to sort out later (but make sure you go back to it!). Ideally have a few different boxes for different rooms and sort the clutter into the corresponding box. That way at least the items can be put in the right location ready for sorting.
2- Create a Small, Calm Space to Spur You On
Sometimes we forget what it’s like to live in a tidy, uncluttered space and the impact it has. Create even just the tiniest amount of space that represents what you’re going for. It could be a calm corner where you can light a candle to sit and meditate or roll out your yoga mat. If that feels too much, start with something like a single clear shelf. Put a couple of possessions there that make your heart sing every time you look at them. Keep it minimal so you can actually see these treasured items.
Even just decluttering the edge of the bath so you can enjoy a calm and distraction-free soak can be transformational. Get rid of the empty bottles and replace with a candle and a plant.
When doing this aim to focus on what you’re gaining by creating pockets of space and calm in your home rather than obsessing over what you’re losing.
3- Find a Way to Deal with the Rest of Your Clutter
These token gestures are a great way to start and give you a taste of how things could be. However dealing with clutter on a bigger scale can be hard work both physically and emotionally. How much clutter is too much is a very personal decision. What could be an overwhelming amount of clutter to one person might not phase the next at all. You get to decide.
Rope in friends or family members if you think it’ll help. Otherwise take advantage of a professional organiser’s services. They’ll help you sort through the emotions surrounding your clutter in a way that’s non-judgemental but empowers you to manage clutter in the long-term.
4- Mental Clutter
If you’re naturally quite a tidy and organised person and you don’t have a lot of physical clutter, check-in on your mental clutter. It’s just as harmful and in some ways harder to shake. A head full of negative self-talk or a list of unfinished jobs can be just as detrimental as a room full of stuff. Similarly, over-committing yourself and running your energy down serving everyone but yourself is another form of clutter that needs to be pruned.
5- Reflect on Your Clutter
Few of us have completely eliminated clutter from our lives so take some time to reflect on why and where you’re harbouring stagnant energy. Make a pact with yourself to shift some of it and let the positive energy flow to you instead.
6- Streamline Your Yoga Kit
Take stock of your yoga clothes, mats and other paraphernalia. Are your leggings and tops spilling out of their drawer? Are you tripping over multiple mats when you only ever use your favourite? These items are adding to the clutter and visual noise as much as anything else. Do a little yoga inventory and review what needs to be pruned. Even your incense and candles can be whittled down or amalgamated if you have lots of half empty packets.
Your Next Move
Which of these six tips has resonated most with you? Put some time aside to tackle whatever has jumped out as being relevant to your current circumstances. Any clutter you let go of will bring about a subsequent shift in stagnant energy so anything you do will be a positive step. Good luck and enjoy creating your little sanctuary of calm!
Suzie Young is a Professional Organiser and Holistic Declutter Coach who helps people shift their clutter and the associated overwhelm. She offers hands-on decluttering and organising services in London and virtual services worldwide, with an emphasis on the emotional aspect of decluttering. You can find out more about Suzie here: