I read all the books. I knew what I should be doing If I wanted to be truly happy, fulfilled and was serious about living my best life.
It's what we should all be doing.
Practising gratitude, being more mindful, more present, more in the moment.
It's the way forward these days isn't it?
It helps with stress, anxiety, quality of sleep, pain and overall health. It also allows us to keep perspective of things and remember what's important too.
Buuuuuut what if you're a little like me? And...
I mean, it wasn’t like I hadn’t tried... the meditation, the mindful journals. Over and over again in fact. But it just never ... really .... worked for me. Too many thoughts would come at me and I wasn't able to calm and quiet them.
They say that Mindfulness can take a lot of practice.
That there is a fair bit of lag time.... between the action of it and the rewards you get from it.
But see, I knew that too, and yet I still couldn't manage to give this practice the time it deserved. It's difficult to work at investing time into an abstract idea that one day may benefit your life.
I’d also think to myself, what's the point in sitting down and trying to calm my mind, when I could just get up and "do" the things I was thinking about... and feeling so chaotic about?
It didn't stop me reading the books. Audiobooks mind you. I didn't have the time to sit and read them! Jesus, who do you think I am?!
Eckhart Tolle was my favourite author. Most nights, I'd listen to him speak as I'd drift off to sleep.
I agreed with everything he said.
But implementing his advice into my life was just not possible.
See... my life was b.u.s.y.
So busy in fact, that I was sure even Eckhart Tolle himself would tie himself into a stress knot trying to live it and get all the “things” done.
Especially the mornings...
Get the kids ready for school, get myself ready for work, feed everyone breakfast, sign permission slips, make lunches, feed the fish, the rabbits, the dog, the chooks, shower, wipe spills, get some washing on, clean up, find library books, missing socks, make beds, decide what to cook for dinner, ensure little teeth were brushed, water plants... all before 8.30? AND remain clam, present and intentional?
Sorry Eckhart, not possible.
“I'll be more mindful and grateful when all the chaos dies down,” I'd say...
But "tomorrow" would come and go and it was the same story. Sometimes tomorrow was even busier. There were dress up days, meetings, assembly items, birthdays...
Tomorrow turned into several days, which turned into weeks, months and then years...
And nothing changed.
In his latest book, “A New Earth” Eckhart Tolle talks about the background unhappiness that most people experience almost constantly.
It’s a general feeling of discontent, resentment, and irritation that’s present in the background as they go through their everyday lives.
(Was this guy watching my life or what?)
He goes on to say that most people are constantly telling themselves stories of how they’ll be at peace at some point in the future. Once a certain event happens, or when they reach some goal they’ve set for themselves, or if they become this or that.
But see, the events, the goals and the noise never die down. There is always something that will demand your attention.
“Always say yes to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to what already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life — and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”
I started to wonder why I had so much trouble saying "yes" to the present moment. What thoughts were going on down there in the deeper parts of my brain?
Why was I always doing and not being? Why was my energy being sucked away?
It either pulled me into the past - reminded me of the things I hadn’t done, and what things I hadn't followed through on.
Or it projected me into the future. Making me think about how things were going to be better once certain things had happened - once the holiday would come or the busy term would end.
For me, mindfulness wasn’t about focusing on or retraining my thoughts in order to become more present and mindful, it was about removing the clutter that triggered these (often subconscious) thoughts.
Prior to decluttering...
I’d see papers scattered around my home (school newsletters, electricity bills, invites, permission slips, kids homework, car insurance), THEN .....I’d think ... ahhhh there’s so much to organise, why can’t I get my act together’… There simply can't be peace yet, not with all this going on.
When I walked into the laundry, I'd see unfolded piles of washing, THEN I’d think .. ahhh that needs to be put away and I need to put another 3 loads on…. How will I find the time to do that!? There won’t be peace now because all of this needs to happen.
When I’d see the broken toys and tshirts that needed mending, THEN I’d think ... there’s another thing I haven’t gotten around to doing… why is there never enough time in the day?
Eckhart Tolle suggests that people’s stories could all be entitled: “Why I Cannot Be at Peace Now”.
Declutter when there there are no distractions around... as yourself... As yourself ... does this item pull me into the past? Does it project me into the future, suggesting what I do and don’t want to be one day, or does it support me NOW in this moment. Do I enjoy it. Does it bring me joy. Now. In this moment?
Do this with every item you own, and you will be more calm, intentional and present as you go about your life.
And if you are willing to be completely honest with yourself, the reasons you hold onto things, aren't specific to just your things....
Do you own things purely because they impress people? Perhaps you also spend your time doing things because they impress people too.
Do you own things because you'd feel guilty throwing them out? Perhaps you spend your time doing things for people out of a sense of guilt too.
Do you hold onto things for concern of what others will say if you throw them out? Perhaps you also do things in your life for this reason also.
Decluttering is so much more about getting rid of stuff. It's creating a context in which you remove items and events from your life because they don’t serve you anymore, have served a purpose and it’s time to move on.
It is remarkable just how it helps to clear your cluttered mind.
When you declutter your environment, ease and calm come into your life. But it’s the mindset shift you create that brings the real magic into your life.
It really will go totally above and beyond what you’d expect.
Without hesitation, I'd say this process has been the most powerful experience of my life. Because of it I’ve found new hobbies, changed careers and lived a life with a lot more intention.
What a liberation to realise that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that. – Eckhart Tolle