One of these tools was the concept of mindfulness that I brought along from my tantra and meditation practices. Since people tend to be a little fuzzy about the concept of Mindfulness, here is a definition:
Well, THAT doesn’t clear up much, does it now? Let me put it in other words, then: the first and most important step to being mindful is trying to stay in the present moment, instead of worrying about the past or the future. This has turned out to be something that many people have lost the capacity for!
Stop everything and just be ‘here and now’.
Can you turn off the constant stream of thoughts that come your way? Even for a moment? Probably not, unless you are used to meditation and your day has been pretty calm so far. This is where mindfulness comes into play: it’s all about reaching that state of calm, where the circling whirlwind of thoughts gradually recedes out of sight. When you reach that point, the distractions are pretty much taken care of and you are ‘in the moment’.
Most likely, whenever you try to think of nothing and just be, every little thought that has been lurking in your subconscious will pounce and stand up tall right in front of you! This is perfectly normal, and it’s a brilliant example how keeping your focus on one thing becomes more difficult when we try not to think of anything. That void will suck in any thought that hangs around the perimeter.
How does all this translate into decluttering and organising?
In my decluttering practice I often find that my clients simply cannot focus on any task for more than a short period of time. They tend to be overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of the task, and even scaling it down and starting with small areas or projects doesn’t always help. My most common occurrence is that we start on, let’s say, a drawer and five minutes later my client suddenly realises that there is something else they feel is more urgent. In those cases, I end up spending a lot of time and effort on keeping my client focused, and convince them that we will address it all when the time comes.
A mindfulness practice with clients has been a useful tool in many (but certainly not all) cases: I spend a moment with guided breathing exercises, short meditations, or something similar whenever it becomes obvious that the client is starting to lose concentration. Yes: this sounds like a loss of time, but it turns out that it usually leads to much better focus and ultimately a lot of efficient work done.
It all depends on finding out if the client is ready to try these things, or is already familiar with them. I wouldn’t press mindfulness meditation on everyone, but if I sense interest and need, I give it a go, usually without uttering the words ‘mindfulness’ or ‘meditation’ until afterwards. And then many people are surprised, saying “so THAT’s what that is?”
This practice is also a helpful tool to bring out buried emotions and attachments to items that turn out to be troublesome. Doing away with the constant buzz of ideas, thoughts and questions as soon as the focus starts slipping often helps to unveil what really holds my clients back from taking necessary decisions. Interestingly, I find that my clients themselves often come to conclusions they were really unaware of and find it useful to do away with those doubts.
Once I manage to bring my clients to stay in the moment, they can move forward with the business of making choices to the best of their abilities, without taking the past or the future into account too much. Of course, some things hold meaning from the past, and others may be useful in the future, but staying in the moment will minimise a focus on ‘eventuality’ and help them stay much more with what’s realistically important to them.
And that, in turn, will help the process along.
Ask the ClutterMeister
Ideas to help clear away the mess in our homes and in our minds.
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Hi, my name is Tilo Flache. My current mission: help my clients declutter mind and space.
This blog contains pointers for your journey towards a happier living experience.