The first step in mindful organizing is to identify your personal whys:
~ Inner Work Exercise ~
Answer the following question:
“Why do you want to be more organized?”
Don’t overthink the question: just pick up a piece of paper and capture 5-10 feeling words that express why you long to be more organized. Whatever words or images come to mind will be the “right” ones, even if they don’t make sense at first.
Below are answers that clients and workshop participants have shared over the years. Do any of these resonate for you?
• To make more time for the really important things in life
• So I know what I have so I don’t buy more than I need
• So I can find things when I need them
• So my housemates can find things when they need them
• To create a meditation space
• To eliminate or reduce mind clutter
• To create a healing space in my daughter’s former bedroom
• To make my closet more functional
• To create a place for my son to play
• To reduce friction in the household
Some of your reasons will be similar to those listed above, while others will relate to your specific goals. We suggest that you include both general and specific reasons for organizing in your list and then focus on one specific goal or project to begin with.
By identifying your personal whys for organizing, you have just begun to approach your project mindfully. See, it’s not so complicated after all!
What Is Mindfulness?
“Life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness is a word that was normalized in the U.S. and in Britain by the Beatles. When the Fab Four travelled to India to meet with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, many young people in their formative years became aware of meditation and mindfulness.
Yet what mindfulness actually is can be hard to define. According to the US National Library of Medicine, “Mindfulness involves non-judgmental attention to present-moment experience.” There’s no right or wrong way to do it. Some achieve this non-judgmental state by practicing yoga or meditation, but it would be tricky to do yoga or sitting meditation while organizing! But it is possible to pay attention to your breath and to remain attuned to your feelings and your body’s needs while organizing.
To practice mindfulness while organizing your home, you are called to turn your attention to what’s happening right now: to what you are thinking, what you are feeling, and what your five senses are telling you.
This is not always a comfortable thing to do. You might find that tuning in to your true feelings while organizing brings up anxiety, a sense of overwhelm, or judgmental voices from the past. Can you move through these uncomfortable feelings and is it worth the effort? Science says yes!
By acknowledging your feelings and “giving them a voice” you will find that they have less power to control you. Research shows that staying present through difficult times can actually decrease your resistance to a difficult task. But in the end, integrating awareness or mindfulness into your organizing strategy can offer long lasting and rewarding results.
By using mindfulness as a tool to organize your home, you will be able to tune in to your intuition and inner wisdom to determine what is right for you at this moment in your life.