A client recently came to me for help with growing her business.

She’s taught yoga for the past twelve years, and she feels ready to have a much larger presence. In our first couple of sessions, we explored what exactly she needed to learn to reach her goals, and she kept using the words “scattered” and “disorganized” to describe how her mind feels when planning a class. She used the same words to describe her home.

When I asked her how she wanted to feel, she said, “I want to make space for creativity. I want to feel grounded and clear about how I put myself out there.” We quickly realized that her disorganization has been holding her back and her home environment mirrored her inner world.

She realized that to feel spacious and clear on the inside, she needed to prioritize creating space on the outside.

How we feel emotionally is directly linked to how we feel physically. Our postures impact our moods. And, what we take in with our eyes has a big influence on how we see ourselves.

Several years ago, I taught Simplicity Parenting, a framework that supports parents to create space in their home environments and schedules so that they can raise calmer and happier kids.

One of the many things that stick with me from those teachings is— a cluttered environment triggers the amygdala.

The amygdalae are two almond-shaped lobes in the center of the brain that are responsible for processing emotion. When our physical environments are cluttered or chaotic, it can activate the amygdala, setting off the fight or flight response and causing us to feel cluttered and chaotic internally.

Last month, my partner moved in with my son and me.

Integrating our stuff provided an opportunity to declutter that I couldn’t pass up. I reorganized our bathroom closet and got rid of pounds of stuff we’ll never use, cleared shelves in another closet, and took a couple of big trips to the Survival Center. Like my Babka used to say, there’s nothing more grounding than having “a place for everything and everything in its place.” I’m savoring the new space we’ve created together.

Once my client realized how much a feeling of spaciousness and groundedness will support her in growing her business, she decided that before she takes big steps to put herself out there, she will prioritize decluttering her home.

I highly recommend investing the time to go through your entire home and get rid of everything that does not spark joy. At the same time, though, you do not need to bite off more than you can chew all at once. Sometimes, a tiny change can make a huge difference.

Want to experiment? You can try this now—

  • Look at the environment you’re in right now. This works especially well if you’re at home or in your office, but even if you’re at a coffee shop or another public place, you’ll likely be able to play with decluttering. Get curious about what’s within your “circle of influence.” For example, if you’re in a public space, you can’t rearrange the furnishings, but you can probably remove some clutter from your table.
  • Notice how you feel in your body when you look at your space right now.
  • Think of three small changes you can make quickly to declutter your space.
  • Then, set a timer for five minutes, and… go! Moving quickly, do everything you can to remove clutter and make space. (Within reason, of course. For example, don’t create more work for yourself by moving things somewhere you won’t remember.)
  • When the timer goes off, sit back down in your chair
  • Notice any shifts about how you feel in your body as you look at your space, no matter how small. If you feel any positive change at all, take a moment to soak in this feeling into the cells of your body.

As you go through the rest of your day and week, stay curious about how seemingly small steps can create a lot more spaciousness. And, allow yourself to soak it in how good space can feel.

If you have a friend or family member who mentions that they feel scattered or disorganized, please share this article with them. They will likely be grateful that you thought of them!

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