All that clutter!

Category : Asanas (Postures), General advice 19th February 2023

Inside Yoga 326 (19/2/2023)

I recently spent about four months clearing out my parents’ family home, the house where I grew up, so nearly 60 years of memories, both emotional and physical; and a major process in letting go. And importantly, and purpose of this article, as anyone who has been through this experience will know, it is amazing the amount of clutter a family can produce! Why and how do we do it??!

Over these past months, as I talked about the house clearing with others, many shared the thought that this was typical of my parents’ generation, they were born in the 1920s, so was it due to the 1930s Depression, the War years in the 40s, or possibly the austerity of rationing in the early 50s? Whatever its source my parents, my dad in particular kept everything, in particular documents, papers, magazines, bills, tax papers, and pay slips, and more, stuffed and stored in all sorts of places.

And a warning: if you have a basement, beware of what goes down there, it might stay there! At the time it seems so easy, put them in a box, deal with them later, but do we? I realise that chatting to people recently about this has inspired some to have a clear out!

And it is not just co-called important documents; they kept empty envelopes, unfilled forms and magazines still in the bag they were posted in, so why keep them? Baffling and frustrating when you are the person having to go through it all to make sure if it’s important it’s kept or got rid of appropriately.

And then there are the photographic prints, the glossy 6x4s, we bought to show our photos in the old days, and the extra prints, companies enticed us with, saying only £1 more: I found so many extra prints in bags unused stored away, but also blurred photos! Who keeps unusable blurred photos?!

Add to this bric’n’brac, those little household items and gadgets that look good at the time or could well be useful, and probably were not, ending up in a box somewhere, hidden, forgotten, until the clear out. After nearly 60 years of accumulating I found a lot! Charity shops now are fuller for it; and I kept one or two, that might well be useful, one day?!!

Now, before you think, I am being harsh on my parents, I had the greatest of respect for them and their methods, and as their son, I realise I learnt from them, and quite possibly keep hold of far too much stuff and papers that I possibly do not need to retain! Have a clear out: that’s my next project!

My daughter was concerned she would be burdened by her parents’ stuff. I reassured her that with so much now digitally stored this would not be such a problem. My parents’ had to keep bank statements, tax papers, and so much, but I do suspect they forgot that after seven years we don’t really need to keep it all!

I chose to share my frustration with clutter as I do think we can all store and stuff things away and forget about them, collecting dust, and perhaps left to those who follow us to sort through! It is a reminder to look at what we have and perhaps do some sorting, and reduce the clutter in our lives?

This idea of clutter in the material sense can be applied to our mind and body as well.

The goal of meditation is to clear the mind and body of unwanted thoughts and emotions, to find some stillness and space within. Especially because we continually think about things, and when we have a lot on our mind, it can feel rather congested and noisy in our mind!

And also in our body too, because restlessness, stress, anxiety and so forth can and often cause problems in our body, making us tired, restless, exhausted and the rest.
Finding ways to de-clutter our mind and body helps us, and doing this regularly is important for our well-being: what we do can depend on time we have and how we are, because sitting still in meditation can shed unwanted feelings and exhaustion, like water rolling off a duck’s back; whilst being physically active and meditating at same time, by practising yoga asanas (exercises) can shift the negative stuff very effectively. Remembering to take action to help ourselves is the hard part.

Anyone who has had trouble with anxiety, stress and unwanted emotions will know friends and family often ask if we’re doing anything about it. We can shrug our shoulders and say we will, but we do know action speaks louder than words. We need to look after ourselves and clear the clutter of our mind and body frequently.

Good luck with your next clear out.

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(1) Comment

1 year ago · Reply

Loved this blog Gary. One of my favourite programmes at the moment is ‘Sort your Life Out’ where a family’s home is completely emptied into a warehouse so they can see every item and they have to get rid (recycle/donate/sell) of over half their possessions. Unfortunately my husband is a hoarder and I’m not so I love a clear out but he doesn’t!

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