Cramped and Cluttered
It’s the holiday season and that means one thing for our mind .¨ lots of thinking. We go over and over in our head the plans we’ve made to get it all just right. As we wind down the first part of this holiday season and prepare for the next part .¨ New Year’s Eve – our mind ramps up again working out party plans, cooking, clothes, guests and more. It gets a bit cramped up there between our ears with all of that thinking.
The holidays aren’t the only time our mind is crammed with thinking though. We all walk around with a fair bit of mind clutter, cramping that sacred space on a regular basis. But, cramped spaces are distressing to us because we feel smothered or suffocated by them since there is, literally, no space. Space translates into breathing room, movement and freedom. It’s air of a different kind, but still an important kind. When we don’t have breathing room, we can’t breathe. It’s that simple.
Think about the energy in a cramped, cluttered rom. There may be loads and loads of knick-knacks piled next to each other leaving little white space. Perhaps there is a lot of furniture in the room and, to add to this cramped and cluttered space, there is a lot of stuff sitting on the furniture leaving no open areas. That’s a double whammy. There is little opportunity to move, if any. The energy in such rooms is low and slow. Low and slow energy is not motivating or healthy and with little movement, such spaces feel like a prison. A lack of movement is also a form of stagnation. When we feel stagnated physically, we feel it mentally and vice versa.
Many of us know this scenario well with our cluttered basements, closets, drawers and garages. We avoid these spaces because clutter actually makes us feel uncomfortable. They continually weigh on us no matter what else we are doing. My cluttered garage is always in the back of my mind. I’m never really free from it. Even if I’m not thinking about it consciously, my subconscious mind always knows it’s there. I’m actually dragging my clutter around with me. Yuck!
Mental clutter is like physical clutter. When our mind is cramped because of all of the thinking we do, there is a level of discomfort in the body. Science has shown that clutter can affect our health by creating stress and anxiety. This can weaken our immune system allowing for more colds and other health issues. Mental clutter can also keep us from sleeping and we know how important a good night’s sleep is. But, we can change this. We can transform our mental clutter into motivation, better health and freedom. The personal benefits are endless.
3 Ways to Simplify the Mind
The way we have been taught to de-clutter our physical space isn’t as helpful as we might think. This is because many of us spend a lot of money buying colored bins, labeling systems and other organizational tools only to find that a year later we are right back where we started. That’s because the issue doesn’t exist outside of us .¨ it’s not a basement or garage issue, it’s a mind issue.
Physical clutter is a crutch for us because we use it to hide what needs healed in us. It is hard to single out one specific thing in a room full of clutter. It is the same for the mind. When our mind is cluttered with thoughts, we can hide from what really needs our attention .¨ our tough issues such as feeling insecure, incapable, unworthy or not good enough. Once we begin to clear the clutter in our mind, space is automatically available for something else to enter our lives. That something is healing. Healing the issues that hold us back in life and create so much suffering for us is waiting just under all of our thoughts – or that stack of magazines from 1970.
So, let’s tackle the real problem and simplify our mind. The rest will take care of itself.
- No More Multi-tasking. The brain is not capable of doing two things at once. Don’t believe me? Try this: Sing Auld Lang Syne (the Happy New Year song) and count to 10 at the same time. You can see that it is not possible. You can only sing or count, but not both. This may be seen as a limitation of the mind, but in fact, it’s really a gift to us. When we are busy thinking about a hundred things, we don’t focus 100% on any of them. That means everything we think about is getting a highly reduced capacity of our attention. This gives us a lower quality of life and we deserve better than that. So, simplify your mind by giving up multi-tasking in favor of focusing and concentrating on one thing at a time as much as you can. Devoting your attention to one topic will reduce your stress and make the way for freedom, motivation and happiness to enter your life.
- I like to make “To Do” lists because it helps me in two ways: a. it reduces my mental stress trying to keep all of the stuff in my head that I need to do and b. it helps me prioritize what needs done. But, in order for the list to be helpful, I limit the list to 5 items at a time. These are the most important things I need to complete each day. That way, I don’t get bogged down with a list that has 17 items I need to do. It isn’t motivating to look at a list that long so most of them never get done. In fact, I actually avoid my own list.
- Nothing clears the mind like concentrating on one word, one mantra or on a chant. Many people don’t meditate because they don’t know how to do it, they think they will get it wrong or they think it’s not working. When people tell me meditation doesn’t work or them, I ask them how long they practiced their meditation. That ends the conversation. We don’t have to meditate for hours on end. Start with 3 minutes and set the stopwatch on your phone so you don’t have to look at the clock. Meditate on a word, like “Love” or use a mantra, such as, “I allow myself to clear my mind”. Do this twice a day and work up to more minutes per time and more times per day. Three is a sacred and magical number when it comes to meditation.
The Power of Intention
Simplifying any part of your life takes dedication to getting to the bottom of things. While this is not always an easy commitment to make physically or mentally, it brings us a level of freedom we are not experiencing right now with the clutter. Use the power of intention to help you simplify your mind. When we set an intention we are directing the energy and attention of our mind. It is a powerful tool we can use to help us in any area of our life.
If we want to simplify our mental space, we can use an intention to do this. It works something like this: You get up in the morning and the first thing you do is set your intention for the day. You might say, “I intend to simplify my mind today by using my lists to prioritize my jobs.” There. Intention set. Now your mind is ready to work on your behalf. It might sound too easy to be true, but the yogis know of and use this power. You can, too. Give it a try. Do it every morning for 10 days and see how your focus changes and how your life changes.
It has been shown that when a physical space is de-cluttered, the mind becomes de-cluttered as well. The reverse is also true. Here is something else you can do to help simplify your physical space: Take an hour a week and clear one area of physical clutter. We spend years ignoring the cluttered spaces in our house. Many of us don’t deal with the clutter because we think it will take an entire day or weekend to make a dent in it and we can’t bring ourselves to commit to that kind of time. But, we can commit to one hour per week for the next two or three months. Don’t take a “pie in the face” approach. Take a small slice at a time and enjoy the process a lot more.
When we clear our mind, we are motivated to clear our space. So, you can start anywhere, simplifying your physical space or your mental space, but just start somewhere. You will feel so much better. Happy New Year and Happy Simplifying!