Tidying the Mind Part 2: Recognize & Re-Organize
I’m hopeful you have begun the Tidy Up process as described in my blog of June 27th: The Art of Tidying the Mind Part 1. If so, you have identified the language that derails you, and are ready to move on to the purging phase.
Marie Kondo’s process of tidying requires thorough honesty and excavation of habitual mental processes. We can use this metaphor of tidying a physical home for developing and maintaining an orderly mindset. Kondo begins with teaching the actual art of tidying -- reorganizing the items in the home -- using it to reduce material clutter in order to reduce distractions. “The work involved can be broadly divided into two kinds: deciding whether or not to dispose of something and deciding where to put it” (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, 2014).
Because mental and emotional material requires introspection and reflection,
it is much more successful if one keeps a journal of the process. The mental art of tidying
must happen in stages as it requires ongoing attention to shift the potentially
deep-rooted habits of thought and narrative.
CLOTHING: YOUR EXTERNAL IMAGE
The order of excavation begins with clothing, which as a mental-emotional construct may symbolize your external image and what the outside world sees. This is an opportunity to get clear about your self-image including how your clothing may represent the kind of person you are, the groups you affiliate with, ideas about what you do well and what challenges, styles that make you feel certain ways, and especially ideals with which you hope to be aligned.
Write about physical aspects as well as how they make you feel.
Take a look at fashion, styles, fabrics, colors, patterns, and other nuances to investigate your self-talk and image concepts as well as the emotional content that clothes inspire.
BOOKS: YOUR INTELLECTUAL SELF
The next tidying investigation is of your books. This may represent your knowledge base, your interests, the forms of imagination that you most enjoy, the research that inspires you, and the stories that illuminate aspects of life you want to remember.
Making order of your intellectual self will make space for the ongoing mental practices you deem important for continued access to peak performance.
Explore the books in your physical world and let go of any that represent material that is no longer true about you as a way to address the external world. Then explore your internal bookshelf that may exist more on the memory level as stories, information, theories, and myths. If any of these concepts do not bring up a sense of joy, it is time to replace them with new information, authors, studies, stories and ideas that do bring you joy and a strong sense of being.
MEMORABILIA: YOUR MEMORY
The items in your house that next require tidying are memorabilia. Ask yourself what memories you want to carry and which you'd like to release. These can be papers, and any other elements that are important to you. They could be things that you were once proud of that now don’t fit in your present life. Assess what is precious, only bringing with you thoughts, feelings and items that bring you joy.
Create a section in your journal about the steps as a way to continue your internal tidying dialogue. This is the ongoing practice that takes place over a designated amount of time as opposed to your ongoing mindfulness practice that needs attention almost daily.
The Next Tidying Steps...
The ongoing process of tidying the mind and associated thought process is best supported by maintaining a regular mindfulness practice. The use of daily quietude expands the brain, allowing more space between firing synapses to support flexibility, change, and neuroplasticity. Maintain a practice that supports you to keep your mind clean and clear. Ongoing commitment to this process is the other essential ingredient. Transformation occurs in baby steps, so breaking the process down and paying attention to one piece at a time allows for new habits to emerge organically.
If you need support with the development of a personalized practice, feel free to set up a consultation with me. If you would prefer self-study, try The (W)inner Circle Series, a guided program I developed to support this work on your own schedule. It contains videos, downloadable MP3s, an interactive workbook, PowerPoints of each talk, and extra support resources.
Stay tuned for my next blog – the last of the 3 part series – on development of your mindfulness practice thru purging negative self-talk.