“The extraordinary power of a real-live human being listening to another—without fixing or doing anything—is the heart of compassion and clutter clearing at its highest level.”

–Stephanie Bennett Vogt

Circles. They hold space. They’re non-linear. They’re mysterious. They’re generative… Add open-minded individuals who are willing to be present and not attached to a particular outcome, and the circle becomes a safe, powerful, and transformative vehicle for clearing clutter.

This is the design of my listening groups – women mostly – who come together once a week for six weeks to share their triumphs and challenges with clearing out the stress and the stuff of their homes and lives. Sometimes our gatherings generate a lot of animated stories, ah-has, relief, laughter… Sometimes our discussions reveal deeper emotional “weather” patterns that sound something like this:

  • I’ve lost my sense of myself.
  • Clutter is in my body, in the hours, the schedules…
  • I find myself clearing out my son’s bookcase or daughter’s, avoiding my own.
  • The phrase “I choose ease” makes my skin crawl.
  • I’m so envious of people who are able to get things done.
  • I have a friend who when she spreads the peanut butter does it in a sacred way. I love that.
  • There’s a loud voice in me saying: “Let me out!”
  • And sometimes we just sit in silence and wait for something to happen––just observing what that feels like.

No matter what arises, one thing is almost always certain: we often walk away feeling lighter without having lifted a finger to clear at home!

The thing that sets the Clearing Circle format apart from the solo approach to clearing clutter is the effect of the witnessing process to release holding patterns. It is the safe container of the circle that invites and allows for anything to be said and held without judgment. None of it needs to add up or make sense for it to be worthy and powerful. As long as the simple ground rules are observed (e.g. “We are not here to fix anything or anyone,” “We will avoid interrupting and side-talking,” “Everything we share stays here,” and so on) anything goes…

Participants find that their pain or shame, their fear or loneliness, is not unique to them. They see that everyone has their own special brand of holding on: their own embarrassing stories, messy foibles and dramas, silly quirks, dark secrets… These profound realizations help everyone come out of the closet, laugh more, and move forward into that magical spaciousness that surfaces naturally when we speak our truth.

If this sounds really cool, it’s because it is! And it costs nothing to try. If you already belong to a book group or support group, consider taking a six-week (or six-month) side-trip. Or ask one or more of your friends with whom you feel most comfortable if they’d be interested in joining you on a clearing adventure.

Set a date and a time, agree on a venue, and allow about two hours for your gatherings…and, most importantly, have fun!

The simple steps for how to begin and maintain your own Clearing Circle are fully detailed in Your Spacious Self: Clear the Clutter and Discover Who You Are. The guided six-week (or six step) clearing program in this book follows this gentle sequence and is easily modified or expanded to suit your needs:

  • Week One: Awareness (see pages 221-222)
  • Week Two: Intention (pp. 222-223)
  • Week Three: Action (pp. 223-224)
  • Week Four: Non-Identification (pp. 224-225)
  • Week Five: Compassion (p. 225)
  • Week Six: Wisdom (p. 226)

Learn more…

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