This is the twelfth and last post in a series about spirituality, time, and place and how our stories play out relative to these realities. Find the previous posts here:
You Are Your Stories
Own Your Story
Is Now Really All We Have?
Where Did You Come From?
Where Are You Going?
A Bigger Story
Where Are You Now?
Healing Sick Spaces
Creating Sacred Spaces
Declutter Your Story
Living An Uncluttered Story (Part One)
Before the pandemic happened many of us may have thought that global lockdowns would make our lives more spacious and relaxed. Being free of daily commutes through traffic, and having more time with our loved ones and to care for our souls, should make us more relaxed and happy, right? The reality is that COVID-19 has only added to the clutter in our time, our relationships, and our spirits.
But it is still possible to declutter our lives and find more space to live more fully. We just need to be intentional and thoughtful. Last week we explored how we can live uncluttered lives physically and mentally. Now we turn to three other areas where decluttering can significantly increase our quality of life.
Years ago I read about C.S. Lewis’ daily routine. I was stunned by how much space he had in his time. While some people today might consider Lewis’ schedule lazy, I felt a longing in my soul to live with such uncluttered time.
Our 24/7 world does not allow us much margin. People who have too much ‘unproductive’ time in their lives are valued less than those who are burning out from busyness. But we do not have to live under this tyranny of the urgent—at least not all the time.
Decluttering our time requires knowing what makes us feel stressed or calm. And it means making space for what calms us while minimising what brings stress. A calendar or planner can be a highly useful tool for this work. But the goal is to develop a greater mindfulness around our time, and the courage to say no without guilt or explanation.
EMOTIONAL AND RELATIONAL DECLUTTERING
It may sound strange to speak of emotional and relational spaces as cluttered. But we all have people in our lives who take up space, energy, and resources without giving anything back. We all have regrets, concerns, and frustrations that use energy but achieve nothing (as opposed to those that add value and help move us toward greater health and security).
It’s not easy to create emotional and/or physical distance in relationships that clutter our lives, but it is healthy. Sometimes we may need complete separation from someone, but often it is sufficient to put strong, healthy boundaries in place, and limit our exposure to ‘cluttering’ people.
Emotionally, we can learn to listen to our hearts, nurture what makes us feel more alive, and release what robs us of energy. But perhaps the most powerful decluttering of our hearts is to develop a habit of compassion and grace toward ourselves. Never underestimate the freedom such self-love can bring.
It is remarkably easy for our spiritual selves to become cluttered. And few people have truly uncluttered spirits. Spiritual clutter comes in at least two forms: ‘gurus’ whose voices order us to find enlightenment in their way alone, and rules that control what we believe, feel, and do.
When they are open, humble, and determined to protect our personal autonomy and authenticity then it can be helpful to learn from diverse spiritual teachers . But, when we run after every new spiritual programme that promises a better life we easily get cluttered and spiritually anxious. And when our rights to choose and to express our spirituality in our own unique way get undermined our souls lose their spacious restfulness.
Spiritual decluttering means being intentional about finding practices and sources of wisdom that bring us freedom and aliveness. It also means refusing to abandon our spiritual authenticity for the sake of being accepted in groups that place conformity over discovery, liberty, and grace.
There is so much more that could be said about living an uncluttered life, but I hope these small guidelines are helpful.
- What area in your life most needs to be decluttered right now?
- What decluttering practices have you found most helpful?
Let’s help one another live uncluttered lives by sharing in the comments. Over to you!
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