01 Oct How Being Present Clears Clutter
I’ve had the pleasure of working with some really wonderful clients, each of whom has taught me something. However, one of my clients, we’ll call her Katherine, really stood out.
Katherine is highly educated and worked for years as a biochemical scientist. As Katherine told me, she made a lot of money, and had a lot of wonderful things. But after years of this lifestyle, Katherine sought change and went in the complete opposite direction. She turned to Buddhism and began not only practicing it, but also teaching it. Fast forward a few years, Katherine contacted me to help with organizing three closets in her home.
We worked together to clear and review the items within each closet over three sessions. Some items Katherine had no attachment to and would quickly make the decision that it would go: to the trash, to the recycle bin or to the donation pile. I was pleasantly surprised when Katherine agreed to let go of about 75% of her items. This is well above average, and every organizer’s dream come true.
But what I admired most about Katherine was how she acted when she found items from what she calls her ‘past’ life. We’d come across binders of scientific research or items related to her former career, and she’d have the same reaction. She would take a breath, smile, and quietly exclaim, “Wow!” She’d hold the items for a moment, acknowledge their importance and the purpose they served, and then quietly say, “This is a part of my past. I do not need it now. I’m ready to let it go.”
The first time I heard it, I was in shock. But as the sessions continued, and I heard it more and more, I began to really look forward to these ‘wow’ moments. Katherine was so immersed in the ‘now’ that fear and anxiety were not clouding her judgment of materialistic belongings. Once I said to her, “Katherine, you’ve let go of 65% of your shoes. Are you sure you don’t want to keep an extra pair for an evening out?” She’d think for a moment before responding, “No. If I want a pair of shoes to go out in, I think I’d like to treat myself to a new pair.” There is no more perfect answer.
It seemed like fate that just before working with Katherine I began to read Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. The focus of the book is on living in the present. It’s a very challenging, but freeing thing to do. Living in the present allows us to realize what exactly we need in that moment. We are not left asking, “But what if I need it in two years?” Or “what if I lose the weight and I fit in those clothes again?” The simple answer is, you might not need it in two years, and if you do, you’ll go out and buy it. Or if you lose the weight, reward yourself with new clothes that show of your figure and make you feel fantastic! We don’t know what the future will hold, but the universe is ready and willing to provide what you need right now, if only you let it. This means letting go of fear of the future, or anxiety/uncertainty over the past. Live in this moment, right now.
I challenge you to try Katherine’s approach to items you’re clinging to: hold them, smile, acknowledge their importance in your past, and let them go. I promise you will feel freer, lighter and happier.