People often think the role of a Professional Organizer is to deal with physical stuff; sorting through knick knacks, putting things away and making spaces look tidy. How far from the truth! So many people get bogged down with the physical stuff of clutter that they forget there is such a thing as mental clutter. Scattered brains, harried thoughts, and anxious minds are often the precursors to the physical stuff building up. One thing I’ve learned that helps in tackling the things cluttering up our heads is to work on practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention intentionally and without judgment to the present moment. It’s a method by which we focus our awareness and attention to improve our day to day functioning. In essence, it’s paying attention to one’s present situation in an open and accepting way to whatever experience is going on at the time. They say inner calm can bring about outer order and I truly believe that.
Simple mindfulness techniques that can help quiet a loud, cluttered mind include:
Resting in a comfortable position
When you start feeling overwhelmed about your situation and all you have to do, take a step back. Sit down. Often the best thing we can do when feeling stressed is to give ourselves space and time to take a break. I like to think of sports teams in this instance. When the game gets intense, often instead of rushing in and attacking, they call a time out. It's a great way to regroup, sit on the sidelines and plan your next move.
Breathe slowly and deeply
Allowing our focus to remain on our breath is a great way to quiet our minds. Often when we feel panicky or on overdrive, we tend to breathe in a shallow manner which doesn’t help our physical bodies. Breathing intentionally and naturally is best for our oxygen intake and blood flow.
Pick a focal point
For some, this might be a physical object in the room, for others it could be counting your breaths, repeating a word or envisioning a positive image. When I took a yoga class years ago, the teacher would light a candle and place it in the center of the room. The flame served as our focal point through some difficult and intense positions.
Think about the benefits you hope to receive for yourself and others around you
This is where you can envision your goals, ie; cleared countertops in the kitchen, your child being able to find their sports gear in a tidy garage, bills being paid on time with no late fees or a manageable to-do list. Focus on your organizing goals and the benefit they’ll bring to you and loved ones.
Take note of any thoughts/feelings that arise and move on
Remember the purpose is to be present in noticing your emotions and being aware of what feelings are bubbling to the surface, but ultimately letting them pass. Feelings and sensations are neither good nor bad it’s what we do with them that impacts our mood and functioning.
Bear witness without judgment
As you look around your surroundings it may be hard not to notice the piles of clutter, the stacks of paperwork or the anxiety you feel about missing a recent appointment. Avoid beating yourself up over these slip-ups and remember that organizing is a journey and detours and bumps in the road are going to arise. Stay focused on the next step to reach your goal.
Stretch and stand
After a period of time whether two minutes or twenty, stand up and focus back on your body as you feel your feet on the ground and your arms at your side. Maybe do some light stretching exercises or at least a soft neck and shoulder roll to release any leftover tension. Shake out your hands or reach up on tiptoes to refocus your body.
It’s important to try to get in the habit of using these techniques on a daily basis. Professional Organizers can encourage clients to begin mindfulness practice tied to an existing habit or trigger, ie; deep breathing and repeating the word clutter-free prior to entering a department store. Support your clients by asking about their practice sessions during each appointment.
There are many benefits of mindfulness. It can help deepen insight into problem situations, increase productivity, improve the connection with the physical body and heighten spiritual connectedness. There are even mindfulness apps which can prompt us to practice daily. Here are just a few:
Hopefully using some of these mindfulness techniques can help you put the pieces in place inside your brain. Taming those scattered thoughts might only be a breath away!
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles of FreeDigitalPhotos.net