Friday, September 24, 2010

The Art of Uncluttering Your Inner and Outer Life

Last weekend I gave a workshop on using Art Therapy and Focusing to look at clutter in our lives.

Creating a collage about  things that she likes in her life.
What is Clutter?
Even when we want to unclutter our lives, almost all of us have a hard time parting with something that has sentimental value. Almost every object in our homes will conjure some sort of memory. However, even if that memory is connected with a special person or is a part of an overall happy moment in life, that doesn't mean that the object is worthy of keeping.

What is appropriate for you today to have in your daily life?
a)     What possessions hold you in the past?
b)    What possessions reflect you in the ‘here and now’?
c)     What possessions help you move forward into your new vision of yourself?

Collage of what becomes clutter.
 Letting go of possessions can be liberating and challenging. It makes room for something new and also creates a void. Who am I if I am not the caretaker of the family antique dishes? Who am I if I am not the one with the beautiful garden? Does that mean I am disconnected from my past or family? Our individual identities, which are made up of many different parts, are connected with our possessions and when we change, those objects that surround us can become anchors to a past or part of a new present. For some of us, or for some aspects of us, letting go of the past by letting go of the things we have that are associated with it, allows us to be more comfortable with who we are now. However, anyone who has ever parted with something that signifies an important relationship with a person or a time of life knows that there's a feeling of freedom and of insecurity. Feeling all parts of ourselves is what we need to get comfortable with in order to navigate life with less stress and anxiety.
Often times, when you deal with the core issues in your life, your material possessions get cleaned up. Once you've got a peaceful space to live in, you'll enjoy a more peaceful mood. Clutter can be standing in your way of a better life. We can live with and make room for both, the cluttered parts of us that don’t know where we are going or what we want and the uncluttered parts of us that have a clear vision of next forward movement. We need to find a way to stand in the complexity of life and still be able to move ahead with clarity.  
A Collage showing colors and textures that she likes in her life.
 “Possessions insulate us from the outside world, building a wall of junk which we can hide behind. Our clutter becomes an insular mechanism for shielding ourselves from pain. We all do to some degree, but few ever make the correlation. The sheer act of acquiring stuff, too, can be a self-medication. How many of us shop in order to feel better? But it’s a temporary fix that, in the end, only adds to our depression.”
– Christy Best

Practicing Focusing to get Clear: Uncluttering 

Holding onto Yourself while trying to change a Pattern : 
1. Maintaining a clear sense of who you are when you interact with others. Knowing what you value and believe, and not defending a false or inaccurate self-picture. 
2. Maintaining a sense of perspective about your anxieties and limitations so that they neither drive nor immobilize you. 
3. Practicing the willingness to engage in self-dialogue which is necessary for your growth. This includes being with your fears and anxieties.
4. Acknowledging the parts of you that engage in projections and distortions.
5. Tolerating the pain involved in growing; mobilizing yourself toward the growth you value and aspire to; soothing your own hurts when necessary, supporting rather than berating yourself. 

How does Focusing help heal the relationship you have with yourself:
 By helping you:
- honor and listen to your emotions, sensations and knowing how to release them
- be a kind guardian to yourself, know how to calm and sooth yourself 
- be present with yourself 
- give yourself the opportunity to have an inner dialogue that supports you 
- hold an open, non-judging attention to your inner sensing 
- feel safe and secure in your own being
- have patience with yourself and your growth
- take time to find the right fit for yourself in different environments, relationships, and situations
The more time we spend in Presence or Expanded Awareness the easier it is to is to develop a relationship with your self. When we are present we can watch ourselves and notice when we need calming, support, clarification, and help. It helps slow things down and allows the self time, room and space to get what really fits for it. 

Here is one of the art exercise that the group did:

Start by getting yourself settled and relaxed. Do some deep breathing.
Imagine that you are moving and you can only bring with you 1 article from each room. In your mind visit the kitchen, living room, bedroom and study/office (any three rooms that you want) and  visualize one item that you know you want to keep. Take a few minutes to write why, then one item that you may be ready to let go and write down why and one item that you feel ambivalent about and write down why. Now, look at your list and from the kept pile write a description of what those items say about you. From the discard pile write a description of what you think you are ready to let go of and of the maybe pile write what issue you think you may be working on right now in your life.
Now we are going to use the keep pile and make a collage of your new expression of self.

The possessions in my life reflect who I am:
- whatever catches my attention is trying to tell me something.
The possessions in my life reflect aspects of myself:
- some reflect my highest aspirations, other reflect my deepest fears.
My possessions are full of signs and symbols:
- I will look for patterns in my life.
At any given moment, my outer expression of self (possessions) is giving me the best results possible:
- I will focus on what is working instead and listen and be with what isn’t.

Creating clarity.


Elena said...

What great recommendations! I don't have a problem with stuff but I can see using this for the emotional stuff that blocks my path occasionally. Thanks for sharing.

evetier said...

Beautiful. I have been decluttering my space and it has really calmed my mind. I love your advice about change and letting go.
My name is eve have also been using art to heal myself, kind of being my own art therapist...i put it in a blog to also share my story with the world.take a look if you're into this kind of self-expression.. thank you!


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