Spring Cleaning – Decluttering satisfies and releases Energies

Although in most of the world’s regions spring has not yet arrived, soon it is going to arrive there as well; the days will be longer, the sun will soon shine more brightly into your home – a perfect time for a thorough spring cleaning, don’t you think? However today I don’t necessarily mean the one with water and scouring powder, but rather a kind of an „energy“ spring-cleaning per Feng-Shui. Never heard of it? Then it’s about high time! You’ll see, it is fun and in all respects worth it.

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My favorite book on this subject is by Karen Kingston: Clear your clutter with Feng Shui. Since I am not all that spiritually or esoterically inclined (as a Social Realist I am probably just too sufficiently down-to-earth) I can’t claim to be particularly versed in the teachings of Feng Shui. Basically I know as much about it as many people know by now: in China it involves a system of harmonizing the interaction among men and nature with a determining influence on construction projects, architecture, landscaping, interior decoration and a lot more. This philosophy is based on the premise of an all-present, invisible life energy – the Qi, invigorating and shaping everything: Feng Shui adherents believe that the motion of Qi in the environment and the home (office, etc.) can be favorably influenced by observing certain principles. When this is successful, favorable Qi accumulates and leads to health, harmony and success. (In case you want to know more, you are invited to read about it here at Wikipedia) So far, so good. As I mentioned before, vis-à-vis the “invisible” my approach basically always tends to be rather diffident and reserved, I am not one who typically runs around with incense and converses with garden elves. However energy – and primarily psychological / spiritual energy! – that is naturally a subject of great interest to me because it is all that frequently the most important key to the desired changes in human life and in my work the challenge to activate it is always uppermost on my mind. Because although during sessions clients manage to take the first step towards change – realization -, they all too often get stuck somewhere between the first and second step: the energy to move them towards action is just not there. And realization without practical implementation does not add all that much new to life . . .

Naturally motivation psychologists and –coaches have quite a bit on this subject up their sleeve; without my most recent move I would in all probability not have gotten acquainted with the Chinese Feng Shui doctrine where it concerns the subject of energy. At that time I acquired the above-mentioned book and discovered tips allowing for a totally new way to release energy. I tried it myself and can now justifiably state that it works – and how! So, in case you feel like it and can use an extra dose of spring energy I can only fervently recommend the book. Although I am convinced that almost everybody can profit from it, it is certainly particularly well suited for all perceiving iPersonic types. So you are aware what to expect, here is a brief foretaste:

The concept: Clutter is pent-up energy! According to the author clutter, stuff and junk – accumulate at a point when energy backs up. This makes it particularly insidious when accumulating junk in turn holds additional energy captive (the telling illustration for this: it gets “stuck” so to speak). This causes the initially insignificant junk- and energy accumulation to gradually keep growing, the energy congestion keeps getting less and less manageable, energy flows more and more sluggish. When you manage to establish order externally and re-invigorate the energy flow, it is going to reflect on your inner balance and your life by and large. Remember: Like inside, like outside – like outside, like inside! (Maybe you are already aware of this yourself: Tidying up, cleaning windows, vacuuming and similar external specifically “targeted” physical activities can sometimes be very helpful in case one is emotionally agitated and confused. Once one spent an angry hour vacuuming the entire apartment from top to bottom, pitching all those old newspapers and opened all the windows, everything tends to become emotionally calmer and clearer as well.) The author counts a variety of categories as clutter:

  • Things you do not use or love
  • Things that are untidy or disorganized
  • Too many things in too small a space
  • Anything unfinished

I would imagine that there are things of one or the other (or even all categories) in everyone’s life: after the move two years ago the box stored in the basement “for now” and then never touched again; the three pairs of really too tight jeans one still has not dumped into the used clothes container; the ancient childhood comic collection one has not looked at in years and dragged from one domicile to the other since Christ made little green apples; the tax return started and then moved from one side of the desk to the other . . . why do we have so many problems discarding, selling or giving stuff away? To me the author’s responses to this question were fascinating because after all, they start from the premise that “behind the obvious reason for the accumulation of junk ( . . ) are always hidden layers of deeper issues” – that is to say psychological problems. Without wanting to pre-empt too much, here are a few; maybe you recognize yourself in some of them?

  • Those who hang on to things “just in case” because he/she - perhaps, maybe - eventually may still need them, (according to Karen Kingston) demonstrate lack of trusts in the future. He/ she feels vulnerable, insecure and tries to protect him/herself against all eventualities imaginable instead of feeling reassured that, in case he/she lets go of these things, at the right time he/she will have everything he/she needs.

  • For some people their own identity is tied up in their “junk”. For example, photos and mementos validate them in who or what they are. That is ok as long as there aren’t too many things – because if that is the case, they tend to tie the personal energy into the “past” rather than directing it towards the “future”.

  • For us in the west personal assets also represent status. Consequently many people indiscriminately collect stuff in order to shore up their sense of self-worth (known otherwise as „keeping up with the Joneses“). That is obviously an illusion just as the quest for security via personal assets or the assumption that more is better.

  • In the author’s opinion junk affliction is also a means of dealing with undesirable feelings: Some hang on to obsolete or useless things out of skimpiness because they have the feeling they are getting the short end of the stick. By literally hiding behind their mountains of junk, others suppress feelings of loneliness, fear of intimacy or other unpleasant emotions.

Well now, did you get all contemplative while reading one or the other “junk interpretation”? No worries - the book provides you with all kinds of release tips for stuff and junk in your life that you may now see with different eyes. Among them the so-called Pareto-Principle (80/20 rule) is probably the most important. It states that we derive 80% of our benefit from 20% of our assets. The best example (particularly appropriate for women) is the wardrobe. Let’s be honest – isn’t it really true that a lot of stuff hangs in there that one never wears because one doesn’t like it (any longer), it became out of fashion or is too small? As a test for this hypothesis the author suggests a monthly inspection: Namely, each time when you wear something in the coming month you hang it one end of the clothes rail. At the end of the month it is easy to track which clothes you wear a lot and which of them rarely or not at all.

And how does one deal with this conundrum on the whole? Kingston suggests the four-box-method:

  • The trash box (for everything that is obviously ripe for immediate discard)

  • The repair box (for things that have to be repaired – they receive an individual time limit i.e. a time by which each item must be fixed, otherwise those items continue on into the trash box)

  • The recycle box (for stuff one can still use: give away, donate, sell or perhaps return to folks from whom it has been borrowed at one time, or the other)

  • And an indecision box (for those items where one is simply not sure whether to keep them or throw them away. Those get a deadline and after its expiration one tries to remember what it was that ended up in the box. After the expiration of the time line anything still considered useful is kept, the rest - out it goes.)
Obviously this is only the basic structure; additionally there are all sorts of wonderful tips and tricks how to deal with “special junk” for instance, disliked gifts, inherited stuff, paper junk, hard drive garbage and so much more. Once all these suggestions have been covered, one is pretty much deprived of all those usual excuses such as “I can’t very well get rid of aunt Erna’s awful lace covers, it would hurt her feelings!” By the way, I really appreciate that the author is certainly not advocating a sterile and mega-neat home. In my opinion it is also true that one can’t be comfortable in one of those perfect homes usually either with well concealed abysses of stuff (behind storeroom doors or in closets) or else populated by very unhappy people. Instead, it is even permitted to establish a “bits and pieces” drawer for all those things that would otherwise be flying about without a home. However that also under the condition that the drawer is not too voluminous not indiscriminately crammed and regularly inspected.

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Well, if you now look around in your home, your place of work or your life in general and get the feeling that a little spring scale down regime may just be helpful in one or all of these areas, I can only recommend this book to assist in getting the ball rolling. At the same time I do urgently advise against reading it in the evening – it is not all that voluminous and easy to read, at this point you may have finished it and because you just can’t wait, you start with the cleanup instead of going to bed . . . you wouldn’t be the first to experience this! On the other hand you can naturally also approach this without the book and according to your own system. In any case, you are sure to notice that this activity provides you with lots of energy and renewed momentum for other projects. Kingston very demonstratively explains that clearing out above all creates “space for new good things” in your life – and what can I say? I have had to deal several times with strange coincidences myself when something incredible or pleasant happened to me after I had yet again ”decluttered”. Whether this was actually the reflowing Qi, the garden elves or simply the fact that my satisfaction and my pride had been the reason, I had created the nice surprises and more space for myself – and honestly, in the final essence it doesn’t really matter. Important is that it worked . . .

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