I firmly believe that how our lives look outside is an exact blueprint of how we feel inside. For the longest time I have known myself, I have been a disorganized creep. I have certainly been not one of those girls with multiple bookmarks, clippers, folders, sticky notes or any of that fancy stationary stuff.
Nevertheless, I slowly realized the value of being organized in physical as I became more conscious from inside.
So, I had this super messy cupboard in my room I had been ignoring for months. I would open it, be alarmed and just pull out something and shut it back. Horrifying.
The visualization translated into my life as to how I have been ignoring some of my problems and just shutting them out whenever they’d erupt. The truth is, I might forget about it in my day – both my closet as well as the things from my past – but as soon as I opened that door, it’d be a slap right on my face.
And so I decided to spring clean; both literally and metaphorically.
Here’s what happened with my brain when I cleaned my closet:
My brain felt capable of cleaning the mess in my life:
A lot of research studies have proven that people with cluttered spaces express high levels of stress hormone cortisol.
What I understand from this is, when I see a junked up cupboard, a cluttered desktop screen or even a messed up table for that matter, my brain starts processing each of these misplaced items as each problem of my life – IMPOSSIBLE, TOO MUCH, I CAN’T DO THIS. I just wanna throw my hands off in the air! Not to mention, my exhausting list of To-Do’s get a huge boost watching the spillovers in your life.
S T R E S S
However, when I clean my physical space, my brain processes my problems too as highly solvable. Items are checked on to my To-do list and I get a feeling of accomplishment, which leads to motivation and a reassurance of being in control of my life.
The mundane task of organizing became a brief mindful practice for my brain
Who did ever say folding laundry or organizing folders is such a creative, exciting activity? No one. But do you realize how most of our physical exercises are in reps? 1,2,3 REPEAT. 3,2,1 REPEAT.
Our brain too needs exercise. What is meditation? To put it simply, it’s focussing in the now, which is usually done by focussing on the most obvious pattern of our life – breathing. Breath in, out.
R E P E A T
So when I do one of these mundane tasks of cleaning my closet, my brain is wiring itself to a pattern. There are plenty of studies which support the fact that mindfulness decreases anxiety. Which is why folding and organizing clothes with my complete presence in the now, turned out to be an effective meditative practice.
My brain wired with my heart to let go of the old and create space for the new
Most of us who live in cluttered environments are emotional hoarders; most often women. We have a hard time letting go of the old – again, both in the physical as well in our heart space.
We will always cling on to old memories, old grudges, old judgments – so much so that we cannot make space for the new. In fact, the old often doesn’t let us see all the amazing things we have right now. This time when I cleaned my closet, I parted my way with so many things I felt like keeping safe but realized they don’t serve me anymore.
L E T G O
An old sweater from the time I was 12, a skirt I feel I might just fit into, a top I thought maybe some day its style will be back on the runway – I untied my attachment with all. And trust me, it pained, but it also felt lighter and so much free-er.
The thing is, each little activity in our life which screams for our attention, screams out for a reason.
You can never be too busy to sort your life out. As much as I would hate to say it – and as much as my Mom would love to quote this tomorrow morning – cleaning is actually a therapy.
And in case, you really want to dig deeper, here’s a book suggestion I found long ago but haven’t read yet. It’s said to be one of the most promising books on the topic: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing – Marie Kondo.