Contemplating Clutter

A while ago, I wrote a short piece on clutter. I am intimate with the phenomenon. My family has it, and I see signs of it in me as well. From a feng shui perspective, the clutter in your home will be reflected in your body, your relationships, and your mind.

Stagnancy is a tough nut to crack. Inertia. For some, it shows up as depression and defensiveness. For others, confusion or numbness. My clutter this past year – the Year of Covid – has expanded my mid-drift: a collection of undisturbed adipose cells I have to, in effect, step over to tie my shoes…. 😉

I totally get it, wanting a magic wand!  I have also wanted one of those, but like all nutritionists and fitness experts tell me: a good diet and exercise are the ways back to health, which means work. 

But – having said that – “work” is simply perspective.  When we find joy in an activity, it is not “work” of the dull, dragging our keesters along sort of effort.  “Work” feels oppressive, overwhelming, and for this essay, refers to something we never start. When we “joy” instead of “work” we are aware of the moment as it is.

Try this exercise on for size:

  1. Sit in your favorite chair, with a paper and pencil.  We are going to do some contemplating and writing.
  2. Write down one thing: What has been one thing you are avoiding?  Think of a simple task, one you have thought about, but not acted on yet.  Now think about the feelings you get when you think about that task.  Where do you feel it in your body?  Name that emotion, and put that feeling aside for the moment.
  3. Start again, looking at that task, but this time, think of the microtasks that need to happen, in sequence, those tiny moments you would need to do in acting on that task.  What is the first microtask involved?  What is the second micro task involved?  If you can, name all the microtasks involved until you come to the end and the Simple Task is completed.  What emotions did that bring up for you?  Name them, and put that aside.  Hint:  The task is a simple one (or so we tell ourselves that), but if there are several microtasks involved, maybe not so simple, especially if those are linked to other tasks on completely different projects. 
  4. Now, go to your list of microtasks, read the first one.  Go do it, and come back and sit down.  Sit with what you just did.  What emotions come up for you?  Where do you feel them?
  5. Only if the emotions were positive, meaning helped release tension in your body or maybe a sense of pleasant surprise, go to the second micro task and go do that and repeat #4.  

If accomplishing the microtask was unpleasant, then explore with self-compassion and curiosity, why?  From your observer self, ask where are the associations coming from, what messages do you tell yourself that keep joy from accomplishing the micro simple of activities.  Do those messages sound familiar, meaning who said them first?

This is just an exercise in bringing the subtleties into focus.  In our busy lives, we forget about the microbiome of our daily lives.  We forget that our bodies are made of millions of individual cells that work together to reach for a cup of coffee and collect the mail.  We are getting signals all the time, and sometimes signals get criss-crossed and static results. 

I have been speaking in terms of tasks, which imply physical motion.  This can be applied to anything though: our interest in foods, our choices, relationships…..  I leave you with a quote from The Matrix

The Oracle : We can never see past the choices we don’t understand.
Neo : Are you saying I have to choose whether Trinity lives or dies?
The Oracle : No, you’ve already made the choice. Now you have to understand it.
This exchange from the movie has always spoken to me.  It undercuts worry about what to do next, and gets right to the matter: understanding ourselves well enough such that we no longer have worries, judgements, fears etc.  We can be free to be in the moment, just be without trying to be, and just

“do, without doing.” – Lao Tsu

Let me know if you wish to continue and I can send you some times and quotes based on the “joys” you wish to accomplish.

Check out Karen Kingston’s Clearing Space books.

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