Decluttering and Mindfulness: How Getting Rid of Stuff Can Help You Live More Mindfully

We are living such distracted, plugged-in-but-tuned-out lives, many of us have lost touch with our ability to be still, to sit in silence, to do nothing. Mindless distraction is at the tips of our fingers, at all times. But in the midst of this distractedness, we find ourselves craving stillness, singularity of focus, and mindful appreciation of the present moment.

So what does getting rid of stuff have to do with mindfulness?

Anuschka of Into Mind says:

“The state of our living space also tends to be a pretty accurate representation of the state of our mind. Psychological research has shown time and time again how physical clutter overloads our senses and stresses us out. We need a clutter-free environment in order to feel rested, calm and content.”

 

Our stuff pulls us in all directions, and prevents us from living more mindfully in the present. I’ve identified three main selves that our stuff pulls us towards:

Our past self

If you’re sentimental, you’re probably being drawn into this self by your stuff a lot. Those things that were once important or special to you, or that you once loved, and once served a purpose. But do you love them now? Are they serving a purpose now? We can of course make space for a few keepsakes and special memories, just not a houseful of them. A very small handful of the most special things, things that you still love now. Like an old tea set from your Granny, that you still use. Things shut away in boxes tend to burden us, and pull us into the past.

Our future self

It’s far too easy to use the line “I might like (or need) this again one day”, but we can end up overwhelmed by stuff that we are hanging onto, “just incase”. It’s weighing you down. It’s costing you. Give yourself permission to let things go, and live freer and lighter for it. And make peace with the fact that if you need that thing again, go buy it. The benefits of living with less FAR outweigh the cost of replacing the odd thing that you discover you need again after all.

Our imagined self

How many of us hang on to things because we thought we were a certain type of person but aren’t? Did you imagine yourself as the snowboarding type but it turns out you aren’t? Or the type that would wear 6 inch heels everyday, but they’re killing your back and they’re just not “you”? Be honest with yourself about which things are really serving you, and cull the rest.

The more we clear our houses of stuff that no longer serves a purpose in our lives, and keep only that which does, the more space we create to be mindful, present, and to get in touch with our true selves.

[ This post originally published on 7 July 2015 ]

I’m presenting a workshop on “Mindful Decluttering” in Auckland next week, on Wednesday 10 May. I’d love you to join me. Head here to buy tickets. 

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