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MINDFUL PRACTICES – CLEAN HOUSE, CLEAR MIND

“Cleanliness refers not only to the way we tend to our hygiene but also to the care we take to maintain and cherish all aspects of our environments (inner and outer) within our control.”

I just finished a project that I have been putting off for years. Taking advantage of a burst of energy and some available helping hands, I set out to clean my garage. There were things in there that haven’t been touched in decades and the thought of moving them now started to look more like an exorcism. But the decision had been made and one by one, pictures, old tennis rackets, beach chairs, and furniture were beginning to pile up outside. Surprisingly the undertaking which I had been dreading to take on for all this time took only a day and how easy it was! As I watched the clutter of the past being purged from my home, I felt a real weight lift from my mind and body as well. With all the junk gone, I enjoyed the rest of my day with a new lightness and clarity. But don’t just take it from me!

Psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter affirms that clutter in the home can really translate to clutter in the mind. It “bombards our minds with excessive stimuli, causing our senses to work overtime on stimuli that aren’t necessary or important.” Because of this, “Clutter makes it more difficult to relax, both physically and mentally.” Not only does clutter interfere with our quality of daily life, but it also inhibits our creativity and productivity!

As if that wasn’t enough, clutter in our home creates feelings of anxiety and guilt because it sends signals to the brain that our work is never done and we’re never sure what it will take to clear it out. If we depend on these feelings of anxiety and guilt to take action it may take months or in my case, years! It is this kind of self-destructive action that is completely unnecessary and avoidable.

Here are a few tips to kick-start your home detox!

  1. Like doing exercise, we know we must endure an amount of pain if we are going to reap the benefits. Treat it as a challenge, knowing you will feel much better once you just get started!
  1. If taking on a whole room of the house is overwhelming, do small portions at a time. If you make a goal to clean one small area at a time, eventually the whole house will be clean and clear before you know it!
  2. Have fun with it! Play your favorite music and dance while you clean. Chores don’t have to be boring.
  3. Set a date and keep to your word. This not only keeps you from putting it off but it is also a great way to build self-trust by keeping a commitment to yourself!
  4. Meditate before you start. Usually, thoughts of fear pull us into resistance. Though allowing ourselves to observe those thoughts pass we can see that they don't hold any real power over us. If meditating sounds intimidating try starting with 5 minutes! Sit with your back straight and focus on following your breath inwards and outwards. If a thought comes up, try not to attach to it and let it pass. If you get sucked into it, guess what, you’re human! Simply refocus on the present with your breath.

“Cleanliness is often a daily ritual in the house and soul of setting things to rights, whether they are dishes, tools, or conscience. It may refer to purging ourselves of the clutter and other impediments that prevent us from moving forward with our work and play. The act of being cleanly does not refer to being “spotless”, but to the art of moving through the day making choices that increase the well-being and functionality of ourselves and those around us.”

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