A meditation to clear clutter

I like to think of meditation as listening to the infinite. It’s got all kinds of health benefits, too, and it helps us get more quiet and centered in ourselves. All you have to do is show up, but you have to do that consistently to notice any changes in your life.

So many people say to me, “Oh, I can’t meditate. My mind has too much going on.”

If you can breathe, you can meditate. Everyone has stuff happening in their mind. The trick is to notice your breath going in and out, and to not get attached to your thoughts. Thoughts will come, but instead of following them where they go, just let them float away, like smoke. Sometimes it’s helpful to light some incense in order to use the smoke as a way to remind you to let your thoughts go. When your mind wanders, gently escort it back to noticing your breath.

Read the following passage and then sit and notice yourself breathing for 5-20 minutes. Most incense lasts about 20 minutes, so that’s another reason to meditate with incense. Or set a timer to go off after 5, 10, 15 minutes. Even if you can only sit still and watch your breath for 30 seconds, that’s great. Maybe next week you can sit for 60 seconds.

Meditating isn’t goal-oriented. The purpose of doing it is doing it. When we can let the rest of the world go by for just a little while, we open a space inside of us that allows us to connect with the infinite, which I like to think of as Good Orderly Direction (GOD). The more space we are able to find inside of us, the more we are able to find outside.

Inspiration

Breathe in. Breathe out. The world is composed entirely of a combination of Yin and Yang. The inhale and the exhale. Expansion and contraction. Stuff comes in and stuff goes out.

How long have you been holding your breath? Breathe with the Universe and let something go – mental, emotional, spiritual or physical.

S/he who has the most stuff is exhausted. Exhale. Let go. Let God.

There is no emptiness that isn’t filled with God. Exhale.

Stuff out. Love in. Breathe.

Meditation Process

  1. Find somewhere quiet and relaxing to sit for a few minutes. If your house is too busy, try your car, backyard, a park or the library (no incense there, of course).
  2. Make an agreement with yourself that you won’t think any thoughts right now. That if they come into your mind, you will let them go and think them later.
  3. Read the inspiration piece above. Then let it go.
  4. Set a timer or light some incense if you like and you aren’t going to bother anyone with it.
  5. With your eyes open or closed, start noticing your breathing, your in breath and your out breath.
  6. Every time your mind wanders, invite your attention back to your breath.
  7. When the timer goes off or you decide to end your meditation, read the inspiration piece again.
  8. Take a moment to journal about it or notice any feelings that come up from this process.

 

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Little Seeds

With all the rain New Jersey has been getting, we’re bound to have some beautiful flowers growing, the seeds of which were planted haphazardly by the wind or carefully by the gardener.

We can be like the wind and plant small seeds – whenever we have 15 minutes, we can try to get something done. Or we can be like the gardener and plan our gardens. In the same 15 minutes, by design, we can plant a seed in a place where we want a flower to grow.

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Many projects can be broken down into smaller tasks, the chunks of which we can do when we have a spare 15 or 20 minutes or an hour or two. When you are breaking down your project into smaller tasks, you may wish to use a mind map, a visual outline. Put estimated times next to each task so when you have some time to work on the project, you can choose a task that will fit in the time you have.

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Photo by Giallo on Pexels.com

Here’s some motivation for you: If you spend 15 minutes a day organizing (or doing anything else that you want to accomplish, for that matter), by the end of one month, you will have spent, 7.5 hours on your project. By the end of one year, you will have spent 90 hours or 11.25 work days on your project.

Here are some organizing tasks that you can do in 15 minutes:

  1. Using a laundry basket or tote, pick up all the detritus that has been tossed on the floor or left on surfaces in the entire house.
  2. Sort the basket of clutter into the rooms where the items belong.
  3. Put away one room of misplaced items.
  4. Clean out your email inbox (it usually takes me 20 minutes), heavily utilizing the “delete” key.
  5. Return a phone call.
  6. Answer an invitation or write a thank you note.
  7. Vacuum a room.
  8. Take a garbage bag out to your car and pick up all the trash.
  9. Fix something that’s broken or sew a button back on a shirt.
  10. Create a to do list.

Whether you plan your garden or sprinkle seeds here and there, you will end up with beautiful flowers!

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Do I Wash My Dishes Or Get To My Meeting On Time?

My friend has to work into the night on Friday and then is planning to go for a dawn bike ride and martial arts class right after on Saturday morning. This seems like a recipe for disaster to me.

But I do the same thing. I taught last night, got stuck in an unexpected traffic jam at 11 p.m. and then got up at 6:30 a.m. to make an early meeting. Something had to give, and I left a sinkful of dishes so that I could show up on time. When I got home, tired and hungry, there were the dishes, not magically washed by my house elf, but sitting in the sink waiting for me, more disgusting with caked on goo than when I left in the morning. Surprise!

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Photo by Scott Umstattd

It happens to all of us. When we get stressed out and feel like we have too many things going on, we let something go. It might be the dishes. It might be our email. It might be putting away the laundry or the non-perishable groceries. It might be dealing with the mail.

Whatever it is, if you have a few days of stress in a row, things start piling up. Sometimes we have to decide if we’re going to deal with the mail, laundry or dishes, or do the really high priority thing that has a looming deadline or get out the house to a really important meeting.

Pretty soon, even if things calm down, it feels overwhelming to tackle whatever pile grew up around our stress this time. Now instead of 15 minutes to do the breakfast dishes, we’re looking at an hour to clean up the wreck in the kitchen. But what’s the choice? Miss the deadline or the meeting?

 

If this sounds like your life on a regular basis, what can be done to keep from falling into this rut?

  • Keep breathing. Stress can be its own energy suck. The more stressed we feel, the less we’re going to be able to get done. It causes confusion in our brains and we end up doing things more than once because we’ve forgotten a crucial step or ingredient. When you remember to breathe deeply, the extra oxygen keeps you focused and productive.
  • Schedule clean-up time. If you know your pattern is to let things go and a stress period is looming, set aside some time after the deadline to clean up and block it in your calendar as an appointment. The clean up might still be daunting, but at least you know it’s going to happen.
  • Stop feeling guilty. This happens to everyone. There is only so much time in a day. As long as you’re planning for it, you are in control of it. Accept that this is the way you work and forgive yourself.

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    Photo by Catt Liu

  • Take a bite. You may not be able to get all the dishes or laundry done when you’ve got more pressing things, but you might be able to do one thing. Wash one dish. Or two. Throw in a load of laundry and set an alarm to remind you to throw it in the dryer later in the day. Throw out a piece of junk mail. Just because you can’t do everything doesn’t mean you can’t do anything. You can do the same thing for the clean up if it feels too overwhelming. Don’t plan to spend two hours cleaning up. Schedule four 30-minute blocks to get your house or office back to normal.
  • Give yourself more time up front. Some people procrastinate and do things at the last minute. (No! Say it isn’t so!) If you know this is your pattern, set yourself a fake earlier deadline so that you aren’t scrambling at the end and leaving other things undone. But don’t keep going past the fake deadline. Procrastination is the tool of the perfectionist to keep from making things perfect. Decide that good enough is good enough.
  • Re-evaluate. Next time you find yourself in the stressed out, deadline scrambling, not keeping up with things boat, analyze what happened. Can you do one thing differently next time? Write it down or set a reminder so that you actually remember that new behavior the next time.
  • Utilize the Magic 15. Take 15 minutes at the end of every day and put stuff away, do dishes, do laundry even if you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Or get up 15 minutes earlier. You are only losing 15 minutes of sleep, and your 15-minute investment of time will help prevent the overwhelming clean up at the other end.
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Photo by Jim Digritz

If you find yourself in a cluttering and re-cluttering behavior pattern over and over again, you may just be trying to do too much. It’s okay to say no to some things so that you can have sanity in your world.

 

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But What Do I Do First? The Art & Science of Sequencing

Sometimes (or possibly all the time) we feel like our to-do list is completely overwhelming. Everything seems important and needs to be done today. But in reality, we can only accomplish a few things in a day. Beating up on ourselves because we haven’t done enough is counterproductive and misuses energy that could be put into actually finishing a task.

Often we choose to do things because they seem urgent but what really moves our life forward are the things that tend not to be urgent but are extremely important. If we spend our lives putting out fires, we never get to these life-changing projects.

Grouping items by the way they are executed, such as phone calls or bills that need to be paid, can help keep our brains on track. We don’t have to keep switching back and forth between the kind of activity, which is much easier for our brains to handle.

The order that you do things in also

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Photo by Breakingpic on Pexels.com

makes a huge difference in how much you can get done. Now that we’ve learned that we need to do like things together, we need to figure out which things come first, second, third and so forth. This is called sequencing, and there is an art to it. However, there are also simple guidelines that can help you prioritize your list and make it much more do-able.

Here are some rules of thumb in deciding what order to do tasks in:

  • Delegate any items you can to other people. If you do this first, they will have time to do them and get back to you with the results. (You may need to check back with them later in the day if they don’t get back to you.)

 

  • Do any tasks that may require someone getting back to you, such as phone calls. Please note: you don’t have to be 100 percent prepared when you make the first phone call. Most of the time, you will be leaving a message for someone to get back to you. If you do get the person the first time and you aren’t prepared, you can discuss the topic in general and tell them you will send a follow up email with more details or set a time to discuss the topic in more detail later. At least you will have gotten the ball rolling.

 

  • Do the most important thing on your list next, even if it is not due yet or doesn’t have a firm due date. Things in this category move your life forward. Often they end up on the back burner because they aren’t urgent.

 

  • Do urgent items on your list. Check your email for only things that are going to blow up if you don’t deal with them. Complete items that are on a near deadline.

 

  • Follow up with any of the people that you have contacted or delegated to. Send out email directions/details, if promised.

 

  • Do one thing that will make your life better in the long run. (Unsubscribe to an email newsletter, organize or weed a file, create/simplify a process, etc.)

 

  • Finally, check your email for other things you need to do and record them on your list. Do not use your email as a to-do bin because that gets too confusing. If the email contains important details, file it and then note your to-do list where you put it so you can refer to it later.

 

  • Do less urgent and less important items on your to-do list as you have time.

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    Photo by Giallo on Pexels.com

 

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Space Clearing and Organizing

Have you been trying to lose weight and clean up clutter for years? Do you feel guilty about the food you eat, about the mess you live in? Are you embarrassed to invite people over or offer a ride to a friend? When we aren’t comfortable in our environment, everything slows down and becomes sludge. Our bodies feel tired, experience pain, gain weight, become flabby. Our homes are weighed down with stuff, clutter, and dirt.

If your house has a lot of clutter, it’s reflecting from your spirit. If you have to move things around in your car whenever you want to have a passenger or go grocery shopping, it’s a sign that your soul is not at ease. If your body is carrying extra weight or pain, then something is not quite right in your energy body, also called your aura.

Take a step towards letting some of that sludge go by clearing your physical space of old energy. Whatever you have experienced or thought about in your house could still be lingering there like emotional dust. Time to let that go. Here are a few ways you can begin to clear your house of what is no longer needed:

  1. Cleaning – physically clean your house. It will immediately feel lighter.
  2. Smudging – burn some sage, sweetgrass, cedar, or palo santo in a heat proof container and walk counter-clockwise around your house, visualizing the smoke chasing away any negativity.
  3. Sound – in the corners of every room, ring a bell or chimes, or clap your hands to dispel negative energy.
  4. Prayer – offer a prayer to Source however you view it asking that old unneeded energy be released and beautiful clean new energy fill your home.
  5. Gratitude – thank your space for all the wonderful things it provides to you. Be specific.

Cleaning and clearing space is practiced around the world, often in the spring, in many cultures and religions. Set aside a little time during the next few days to freshen your home for spring.

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The Cult of Speed

We are perpetually trying to get more done in a day. But like the White Rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, the hurrier up we go, the behinder we get.

It appears that we never have enough time, and always have too much to do. A University of Kansas study tested a theory that time appears to speed up when individuals group their experiences into categories, rather than experiencing each moment as distinct.

Carl Honoré in his book In Praise of Slowness notes that slowing down actually helps us to get more done. He sites a private high school that discontinued the practice of giving homework assignments, choosing to let kids rest and relax after school. Test scores went up by 20 percent in the first year.

Knowing that slowing down helps us to actually do more, we can choose to not participate in the cult of speed. We can take our time to really savor the moment. We can put our full attention on what we are doing, take pleasure in doing it well, and immerse ourselves in the experience of doing it.

Think about when time feels like it is dragging and when it feels like the hours have flown by? The quality that helps us not get caught in the trap of time is focus. When we focus our attention fully on what is at hand, not only does time seem to fly by, but we are able to attend to our tasks more quickly and fully.

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getting things done:

“We must use time creatively — and forever realize that the time is always hope to do great things.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

time-mgcOne of the main complaints I hear from clients is that their to-do lists are so long and they can never get everything done. Well, of course not, because we are always adding new things to our lists. We do not live in a static universe.

Two ideas to help you conquer your to-do list:

1. Do one thing on your list every day of the year. Choose something that doesn’t take very long if you have a busy day. That way, you will have accomplished at least 365 things each year. Instead of just working off your list, create a plan. What do you want your life to look like in three months, six months, one year and five years? What do you want to accomplish? Then look at your to-do list and cross out right now anything that does not support those goals. Choose to act based on what you plan to be not on what others expect you to do.

2. When you look at your list, you can do things that are urgent and important first. But be sure you don’t do things that are urgent but unimportant just because they seem urgent. A prime example is answering email which has become a time consuming task in the last ten years but which we all seemed to manage without fifteen years ago.

Check out The Four-Hour Work Week by Timothy Ferriss for great ideas on how to limit the email you get. Ferriss, by the way, spends two hours a week (on Monday mornings) on answering email. How much time do you spend?

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