Some say that that state of your external environment is a direct reflection of your internal state of being. And while this might seem somewhat rigid in thought, there might actually be some truth to it. Take clutter for example. Is your home environment full of stuff? What about your work space?
Leo Babauta pens this recent Zen Habits post on how clutter might not be so bad. Let me clarify: clutter isn’t bad because it gives you a great opportunity to practice a mindfulness meditation while cleaning it up! According to Babauta, because clutter keeps a person stuck in the past, by decluttering a person’s space, one is in effect choosing to live more mindfully in the present.
Below is his 5 step process:
- Pick one cluttered flat surface. It can be a tabletop, countertop, shelf, the top of a dresser, floor of a closet, floor of a room (just a section of that floor to start with). Don’t worry about all the rest of your cluttered spaces for now — just pick this one space. Small is good.
- Clear that surface. Take everything off and pile it on the floor or another table. Clean the surface while it’s clear — wipe it with a cloth, slowly and mindfully.
- Take one object from the pile. Forget about the entire pile — just look at that one object. Ask yourself why you have it. Is it for emotional reasons, or do you really use it? Is it for “just in case”? When was the last time you used it? If you don’t really need or use it, put it in a box for donation or trash it. If you do really use it, put it in another pile to be put back on your now-clean surface. If you’re on the fence and can’t bear to give something up, put it in a “maybe” box and put that box away for six months (mark the date on your calendar).
- Repeat, one object at a time. Practice doing this mindfully. Make a decision with each object — keep, donate, or maybe box. No waffling or putting off decisions. Deal with each object once, then move on.
- Put the objects back, and make a “home” for each one. Each object needs to have a spot that is its home, and you should always put those objects back in their homes. If you can’t find a home for an object, you don’t have space for it. Donate the items in the donation box, and put away the maybe box. Eventually you won’t need a maybe box as you get good at this.
Read more from Babauta on how clutter gives you an excuse to practice meditation here.