Most people think of clearing as something you “do” to lighten your load and free up some space. Mantras like “Use it or lose it,” “When in doubt, throw it out” are the gold standard of tackling excesses in the basement, closet, and email inboxes. And built into this view is an expectation of instant gratification: “As soon I get rid of this nuisance, I’ll be happy again.”
There is nothing wrong with traditional methods, mind you. They are perfectly adequate. The problem is that they don’t work very well to address the deeper core issues that are buried under all the stress and stuff that keeps us stuck.
Lurking deep beneath our stress and stuff is unconscious attachment (I might need this someday),resistance (I can’t face this… it’s too overwhelming), fear (What will happen to me if I let go?), and self-blame (I’m not good enough). “Getting rid of” doesn’t help us to release attachments, soften resistance, move through fear, and promote self-care. Nor does it give us an opportunity to wake up to our true nature, which shines through more brightly when we release what’s holding us back.
So even if the stress and stuff gets “handled,” the thoughts and emotions that gave rise to it remain, and become an endless-cycle magnet for more stress and stuff. From the soul’s perspective, whose job it is to evolve, clearing the traditional way is limited and, ultimately, not very enlightening nor sustainable.
What most clearing approaches lack is a key ingredient: awareness. This is the ability to tune into and observe an experience with the five primary senses (smell, taste, touch, hearing, sight) and the sixth sense of inner knowing – in present time.
Feeling and witnessing a task or a stressful situation in the present moment does a magical thing: it releases stuck energy, quiets the mind, helps us detach more easily, and creates openings that weren’t there before.
Add awareness to weeding out the refrigerator, folding laundry, or talking to a difficult boss or family member, for example, and three significant things happen that can change your life forever: You have effectively lightened your load with less effort (even if it’s not immediately apparent in the moment); you’ve created a powerful ripple effect that makes weeding out, folding, or talking to a difficult human easier the next time; and you’ve helped stop the cycle of attachment, resistance, fear, and self-blame – for good!
At the heart of [these teachings] is a whole new – more spacious – way to embrace this thing we call “clearing.” Consider these important distinctions:
1. Clearing is not a finite task that you put on a to-do list and complete by a certain deadline. It is an ongoing and revealing journey of self-discovery and personal transformation that starts where you are.
2. Clearing is not about freeing up some space. It’s about freeing you! It is a gentle process of releasing what is holding you back and cultivating what is calling you forward.
3. Clearing is not something you squeeze into your life. It is a way of life. It is daily practice that promotes mindfulness, well-being, and letting go – one baby step at a time.
Clearing, in any form, lightens. Clearing with awareness, however en-lightens. You get to choose which way you want to play.
–Excerpted from A Year to Clear by Stephanie Bennett Vogt
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