“Unclog your mind. Unclog your room. Arrange your room in a way you wish your mind would be” --Yoko Ono
Ever find yourself stuck in a rut, feeling blue or stopped in your tracks? We all have those times when we seem to sink into a place of inactivity or feel a lack of motivation. Sometimes it is because we need more rest; other times it is because we are simply overwhelmed. Whatever the case may be for you, you might vibrate to Yoko Ono’s quote, “Unclog your mind. Unclog your room. Arrange your room in a way you wish your mind would be.”
There is something to be said for how our environment affects our thinking, and vice versa. Sometimes it is easier to start on the outside to begin making positive changes on our thinking. Studies show how important mindfulness, meditation, and our thoughts and behavior are for the health and proper functioning of our brain. “Mindfulness meditation (MM) practices constitute an important group of meditative practices that have received growing attention. The aim of the present paper was to systematically review current evidence on the neurobiological changes and clinical benefits related to MM practice in psychiatric disorders, in physical illnesses and in healthy subjects.”
Mindfulness meditation is not just a passive experience, but can become a way of life. Learning to do everything mindfully and with focus and intention, can enable us to live more fully in the present. At the same time, the multiple health benefits can improve other areas of our lives. One of the ways that I practice mindfulness is by slowing myself down enough to notice the areas in my home where I feel things are out of whack. First I identify small tasks I can do that would clear space that needs cleaning and clearing. Next I begin working on each task, mindfully, slowly, and with intention.
Try it yourself, right now. Without getting up or even looking around, think about where in your home your energy is clogged up. Your mind will immediately go to the places where you unconsciously register messes, clogs, and drains on your energy. Try it and see if this works for you. As I do this, my first thought goes to the bag in the closet full of items to be recycled. It got shoved in the closet a couple of weeks ago, and is busy taking up energy and waiting to be transported to Deja Vu, our local thrift store. Next on my list is the refrigerator that is full of fresh food. I need to clean the refrigerator and prep food for the week. Also on my list is laundry, the surface areas of the house, and the drains. Oh and yes, the windows that need their autumn cleaning. Well, I probably won’t get to all of these today, but I can begin.
Here are seven simple steps you can take right now to unclog your home and begin arranging your home in a way that reflects well on your mind.
Make a list: Either walk around the house, or simply identify those areas of your home that need unclogging. By letting your mind travel to those spots, you are learning to be more mindful (trusting that your mind retains this information) and more aware of your energy blocks and drains. When we live with messes, undone chores, or other types of clogs, our energy is tied up in them, whether we are consciously thinking about them or not. To identify the areas that need clearing, cleansing, and unclogging, we take the first step to regaining our energy.
Prioritize and Set Goals. Determine what time you have and which tasks would make you feel better if they were done. For example, if I know I do not have enough time to do laundry, I might start with a couple of other tasks that would take less time. As you might make plans for your work (daily, weekly, monthly, or semi-annually), do the same thing for taking care of clearing clogs in your home. Set a regular time to do laundry and change bedding at the same time. Do your major grocery shopping and clean the refrigerator before putting food away.
Set Aside time for Regular Chores. Unless you have help, or even if you do, there are regular chores that must be done. Pretending they don't exist or don't take time, blocks your energy. Plan for the chores that need to get done. Getting the laundry done, shopping and preparing meals, and taking time to do household chores are just some of the tasks that slip away from us some weeks. When we get so caught up in our work or jobs, with our lives and relationships, or with activities and events that require our presence and attention, we often let important areas of our own life go. One of the things I discovered is that working from home can be as big an energy trap as working outside the home can be. Having done both, I find that I am just as likely to ‘forget’ to do the dishes, change the beds, or get to the store since working from home. In fact, maybe more so. I’ve learned to program my exercise into my daily schedule, and now also feel the need to program other activities into my daily life. This year I began doing a monthly major grocery trip. My weekly shopping involves picking up fresh produce, dairy, or other necessities. This saves me more on my grocery bill, and cuts down the amount of time I spend fretting over what to cook or what to make with what’s on hand. I make menus, buy staples and basic ingredients for the main meals, and spend part of one day a week preparing and prepping food. This practice allows me to visualize what kinds of meals I want to prepare, and eliminates eating mindlessly. Mindful planning, preparing, and preparation ensures that meals are healthy, attractive, and meals are relaxing and comfortable.
Take Good Care of Yourself. When was the last time you gave yourself some special care? Have you had your hair cut or done? Have you gone to the dentist to have your annual check up and to have your teeth cleaned? Do you take a quick bath or shower, run a brush through your hair and dart out the door, or do you take some time to take care of your hands, feet, body, hair, and overall physical appearance? Taking care of our own hygiene and health is also an area we want to be sure to allot time and energy to. How we take care of ourselves is as important as how we take care of other areas of our lives--maybe more so. If we don’t get enough sleep, good nutrition, proper hygiene and care, we begin to fray around the edges. We lose energy, feel run down, and look like we’ve been dragging ourselves around without thought. Set aside special time every day to tend to your hygiene and make yourself feel better. One of my friends always says, “There’s always time for beauty.” Putting on clean clothes, dressing up for yourself as well as for special occasions, and adding some color, fragrance, or spark to your appearance is something we can do for ourselves. As within so without, also works in reverse. Sometimes when we’re blue or feeling a bit tired, it actually works to ‘go through the motions’. Just as we have to put one foot in front of the other at times when we have business to take care of, so too can we help motivate ourselves by ‘setting the table’ of our lives. My Godmother used to say, “Act as if.....” While we don’t want to live a life in denial or ignore taking care of important matters, we can give ourselves a boost by dressing up, clearing the table and preparing it for a nice meal. Take time for a nap now and then, or give yourself an extra 20 minutes to meditate, do some yoga or exercises. Take a daily walk, even if it’s only up and down the hall or stairs. Make a list of areas of your personal life that need sprucing up, and then take one step each day to improve how you are taking care of yourself. If you only shop when you have to, spend half a day visiting friend’s shops, and taking yourself out to coffee or tea. Change the way you approach taking care of yourself, making it a focus and not just an afterthought.
Use your vision and imagination to plan. Use your imagination to visualize how you would like to look and feel, and how you would like your home to look and feel. Make a floor plan, or use ideas you have been meaning to try out. Move the furniture around to take advantage of the light, to free up energy and, add some new color and artwork to bring your home to life. The light changes in fall and winter, and with it our activities. Arrange reading areas where you have the best light. Move furniture out of drafts and brighten up the inside of your home. Change the curtains or drapes, take down old blinds or curtains, and clean the windows. Put fresh cut flowers in a glass vase and put some smaller buds and blooms in small dishes around the house. Replace candles, and set the table with a fresh table cloth or with some new fall place mats. Open the windows and air things out at least once or twice a day. Visualize what you would like to change in your home to make it more comfortable and energized. Clear off table tops regularly. Clean the heater vents, and dust for cobwebs in corners and around baseboards and ceiling edges. Plan for a better way to arrange and use your work space (get colorful boxes for file storage, put a planning calendar on the wall, or make that story board you have been meaning to do). Do the same for your own life plans. Spend some time thinking about how you would like to change the way you do things, and then start making plans accordingly. One step at a time. If we get into a rut, we need to take action to lift ourselves out of that rut.
Be honest about what you need and want. Look deeper. We often think that we get into a rut because of the circumstances of life or because of what other people are doing or not doing. Sound familiar? As long as we live our lives going along with the real or imagined expectations of others (think that’s called fantasy), we remain stuck right where we are. Be mindful about where you have allowed our energy to become trapped. Use your home as a compass. Look at the areas of your life that are crammed, messy, or otherwise draining your energy. Take the kitchen, for example. In Feng Shui, the kitchen represents the abundance, wealth and health of the family. If the kitchen is a mess or is not being used properly, this is a reflection on our health and how we value ourselves and our worth. If the bedroom is a disaster area, we probably aren’t sleeping or getting the rest we need. We may be lacking in pleasure, or feeling trapped or blocked. Closets too can represent what we have hidden away or stored away, out of sight. I’ve noticed dreams lately with a few references to closets, and this makes me take a good look at the closet (there is only one) in my home. Cupboards too are places where we often stash things, and store up items we neither use nor like. You can use your imagination to decide for yourself what the different areas of your home represent about how you are living your life. Ask yourself the question: How is my life like this ________ that is cluttered, crammed, or messy? How is the way I’m feeling stuck like this messy area? Notice anything that stands out, and then begin being brutally honest with yourself about what you would change if you could. And of course, you can change things. Sometimes though, we need to ask ourselves what we really want to or need to change. Try it. You might be surprised with the answers. Make a list of what you would change if you could, and make the list simple and positive. “I would like to________.” Don’t spend time debating with yourself or bargaining with God. Just be honest. When you are clear about what you want to change or do in order to live a healthier, happier life, the doors open and the way is made clear. .
Clear a Place for Change to Happen. Get out of your own way, and start making way for the changes to come to you. Clean up the spaces around you. Release what needs to be released, and be open to receiving what you need and want. Be receptive, alert, and appreciative of what you have, what you have achieved, completed, or done, and be mindful and alert to signs that signal movement in new directions. Mourn less, and celebrate more. Release what no longer belongs to you, and be mindful and present with who you are right where you are. Practice mindful meditation and mindful living. Enjoy what you’re doing, regardless of what it is. Baking a pie, sweeping the porch, or doing the laundry...all are gifts of living, and when we are present in each moment, appreciating what we have, what we can do, and how special each moment is, then we experience the grace of living. Allow yourself to unplug from all the places where you have trapped your energy, your soul, your mind, or your emotions. Bring yourself back into a place of awakening and life within, and allow yourself to receive the grace that your life is meant to have. Be thankful in advance, and set the table for it to come to you, as it will.