By Ranjini Banerjee
When you de-clutter your living spaces, you free yourself of the toxins in your body and eliminate the debris of outdated thoughts, feelings, experiences… you clear the spaces around your soul.
On a clear day you can see forever. This is one of my favourite movies. I like it not just for its story but also because the title makes me feel nice. I like the word ‘clear’. To be clear means to be free from the smog of unconscious living. It means shining the light of consciousness on to your every thought, word and feeling. To be clear is to be transparent, pure, crystalline.
Dianetics and Scientology are a set of ideas, beliefs and practices relating to relationship between the body, mind and spirit. It was developed by L. Ron Hubbard who was a science fiction writer. He defined a ‘clear’ being as one who is free from the negative influences of his own reactive mind. He therefore suffers no ill effects caused by unwanted engrams, emotions or traumas. Such a person is said to be in control of their mental energy or thoughts and can think clearly and rationally even in circumstances which in earlier times had caused them severe trauma. And isn’t this what we all aim to be – a clear being?
What stops us from achieving this enviable state of clearness, of pure essence? Just as undigested food creates toxins in our physical body, undigested thoughts, feelings, experiences and reactions, create toxins in our mental and emotional bodies and block our energies. In order to get clear, therefore, we need to clear up!
Life reflects our thoughts and emotions. The resemblance between our state of mind and our environment is uncanny. I am not known to be the most organised person. Each time I opened my cupboard, the clothes would come tumbling out! I had to simply grasp whatever I could lay my hands on. My life was like my cupboard – chaotic, jumbled and without definite direction. Too many issues just kept tumbling out one after another and I dealt with them erratically. I simply grasped at whatever life tossed at me. However, God works in strange ways. My decision to finally organise my cupboard wrought magic!
I discovered a powerful mantra which can turn around one’s life. The mantra was ‘clearing’. As I cleared my cupboard, I noticed that I had held on to old things – clothes that I had outgrown, accessories that I no longer use, and things I no longer needed. An unhealthy emotional attachment or perhaps a deep-rooted insecurity about letting go, kept me in their grip. The clutter prevented the onset of newness.
A simple cupboard clearing session helped me realise that I had let go of much more than just old clothes. The clearing brought about drastic changes in my life. I felt more organised and more open. I welcomed all the new things which life had to offer and there was a definite sense of space and expansiveness of thought, feeling and emotions. The intricate relationship between a physical clearing and my mental, emotional and spiritual health, got me thinking about the various aspects of our life where the act of clearing can make a major difference.
Clarity is crucial if we want to live our lives to the fullest. And clarity is a function of conscious living. Becoming conscious of the inputs we take in, in the form of experiences, reactions, and thoughts is tantamount to spring-cleaning our inner selves. Instead of unwanted feelings and thoughts embedding themselves and causing us discomfort, we use awareness to imbibe their message and free ourselves of them. In the same way, conscious eating will help us to have what is right for us which means what can nourish us and enhance our health. Living like this, we lead updated lives, always in the here and now, instead of dragging our psyches over several time zones, some parts of ourselves deadlocked in childhood, others in a failed marriage and so on. But of course, there is one more task we need to ongoingly undertake, which is to eliminate the dross already within us. To detoxify ourselves and return to clarity!
The journey we take will resemble the various layers of the coconut. The husk symbolises our personal spaces, the hard shell our physical body, the succulent meat represents the emotional and mental bodies, and finally the pure clear water symbolises the soul.
Each layer must be cleansed and when all is harmonised, the clear waters of the soul will bathe the mind and the body and transform it into its own essence.
Clearing the space
Our personal space, be it at home or work, reflects who we are and also our mental, emotional and psychological framework. A cluttered desk reflects a disorganised worker while an untidy living room can speak volumes about the homemaker! Also, it is a popular observation that visual perception of open and clear space opens up our minds and related thought processes.
Ritualistic cleaning of the home is a part and parcel of many cultures and traditions during important festivals. While the Bengalis utilise their New Year’s Day to clear out their homes of all negativity, the North Indians have Diwali earmarked for this exercise! It is believed that clearing your living space of clutter invites wealth, luck and prosperity. So why wait for a special day in the year to invite good luck, when you can do it right away?
Leena Thakkar, a Mumbai-based businesswoman who maintains an impeccable home and person, shares, “I clean my house regularly. Some things I do on a daily basis, like dusting, because I don’t like dust or clutter. I regularly de-weed my plants and free them of dead leaves. I get rid of old newspapers and magazines on a monthly basis. I try not to accumulate anything in excess as that creates negative energy. I have fixed days for washing my bed sheets, curtains, etc. Before I sleep I review my day. I go through all the things that happened and see what made me happy and what didn’t. I see how I reacted and if I could have done it better. I clear my emails and SMSes regularly while travelling or watching TV. I constantly strive to stay free of clutter.”
Cellphones, computers and laptops have also enhanced our concept of space and where there is space – clutter is bound to catch up. Hundreds of phone numbers using up the space in your phone’s memory card and computer hard disks crashing with data overload are a common phenomenon. We keep storing those numbers and information in the belief that some day in the future it might come in handy, but surprisingly in most cases it never does!
“I have lost my phonebook three times in a year,” says Som Banerjee, a media professional. “I was angry and upset with myself. I thought of all those people whom I might not be able to contact. I painstakingly collected most of the numbers. Only to lose the phonebook again! When it happened for the third time, I noticed a pattern. Each time some numbers got lost from my phone, I was, in a strange manner, also clearing out my connections with people who did not matter any more. I would always get back the numbers of people with whom I regularly kept in touch and who mattered to me, but not of those whom I had not called or spoken to in a very long time. It was then that I realised that perhaps God was giving me a message – clear out the unused and the negative to make space for the new and the positive.”
The ancient Chinese practice of feng shui, which works through balancing the energies of the elements, also places great emphasis on space clearing. One of the most effective ways of activating positive ‘chi’ or energy in any place is by clearing the clutter and disposing of any object which you have not used in a year or two. Such clearing activates the stagnant energy in that area and drives out the negative blockages while welcoming wealth, health, peace and prosperity.
|Leena Thakkar |
‘I strive to stay free of clutter by clearing my house, my inbox,
and text messages; I also review my day ongoingly.’
In her book, Clutter-free Forever, Stephanie Roberts writes, ‘For every piece of clutter that has piled up because we’ve been too busy or too distracted to deal with it, there’s probably at least one piece that you have avoided dealing with for emotional reasons.” She says, “Healing and growth come from recognising your feelings, no matter what they are. If your enthusiasm for clutter clearing suddenly turns into feelings of anger, resentment at the task itself, or a vague sense of anxiety, that’s a sign to pause and reflect on what deeper feelings are being triggered.
“Remember that the space you create by releasing clutter will allow all kinds of gifts to flow into your life, on the physical, spiritual, and emotional levels. Letting go of excess makes room for blessings.”
If God exists in human form, then our body is a temple. But how conscious are we of this sublime truth? Junk food, substance abuse, irregular lifestyle, inordinate indulgences all contribute towards damaging the body. However, it is never too late to start reclaiming your life and health. Mumbai-based Goldie Makhijani, a housewife, shares her secret of staying healthy, happy and clutterfree: “Breathing exercises, and the pranayam I learnt at my Brahmavidya classes help keep the energy moving. Exercising and swimming also lets me feel light and free, cleansing me of any worries that tie me down. I am a detached kind of person and don’t cling to things.”
Clearing processes restore, heal, balance and enhance your physical well-being to its highest performance level and some such methods are as follows:
Drinking a glass of lukewarm water first thing in the morning is one of the best ways to start the detoxification process. It is highly recommended that we consume about 8-12 glasses of water a day to ensure that our body is well hydrated and all toxins are cleared naturally. Citrus fruits and vegetables have high detoxification properties and it is advisable to include them in our daily diet.
• Ayurvedic cleansing
Ayurvedic healers recommend periodic internal cleansing as a way to maintain good health and prevent disorders from taking root in the physiology. Proper digestion is crucial for health. When the digestive process is incomplete, partially digested food matter is left behind. This substance is called ama in ayurveda. This becomes toxic if allowed to stay or build up over time. Ayurveda recommends a seasonal routine (ritucharya) as well as a daily routine (dinacharya).
• Eliminate foods that can create ama. This includes junk food, leftovers, foods with preservatives, additives or chemicals, etc. Eat whole, fresh, organic food
• Avoid raw foods
• Avoid yogurt, as it sometimes clogs the channels of the body
• If you drink milk, boil it with a pinch of nutmeg for vata, cardamom for pitta and a slice of fresh ginger for kapha to enhance digestibility
• Avoid iced water and cold beverages. Eat cooked food, warm or at room temperature
• Drink lots of warm water through the day. A detoxifying “tea” is even better
• Coriander, cumin, fennel and ajwain (Carum copticum) are digestion-enhancing spices which may be added to regular meals.
Barley water is a wonderful cleanser of the digestive system and the urinary tract. Cooked apples and pears are a great way to get elimination going in the morning. Prunes, pineapple, papaya and pomegranate are other fruits that aid digestion and cleansing. Herbs such as coriander, mint, fresh ginger and lemon are also helpful for cleansing and purifying the digestive system.
The ayurvedic daily massage, called abhyanga, helps loosen toxins deeply embedded in body tissues for ease of elimination. The ‘shirodhara’ treatment is also a wonderful method for calming the mind and nervous system and recharging the entire physiology.
Triphala and tulsi together can help cleanse the physiology of internally generated digestive ama as well as toxins drawn in from the environment through less-than-ideal air, water or food. Sonia Verma, a 51-year-old Mumbai-based facilitator, recalls that she once went through a powerful liver detox to heal herself of rheumatoid arthritis. At the end of the week, her skin was glowing, and the pains had fallen away. Best of all, she found that she now had more space for her emotions and could enable them to be instead of resisting them severely.
• Yoga cleansing
Yoga has been a physical and mental discipline practised by our ancestors since time immemorial. After a brief sabbatical it is now back on the popularity chart of the masses. No doubt, yoga is one of the most effective ways of having a healthy mind and body. Yoga has some highly beneficial purification practices that clear the body of various discomforts and ailments. The techniques called ‘shatkarmas’ or ‘shatkriyas’ have a powerful impact on specific areas of the body that have direct and immense health benefits. Yoga cleansing encompasses neti (nasal cleansing), abdomen, colon, teeth, tongue and even skin clearing.
|Som Banerjee ‘Losing my phone book addresses was a message to clear out the unused and the negative.’|
Most of our suffering comes from the excessive emotional baggage that we carry around with us. A past hurt, regret, pent-up anger or grief – any of these emotions could become trapped inside us. They keep building and ultimately manifest as physical ailments. Almost every ailment like cancer, tumour and even diabetes has its roots in an emotional blockage. An emotional clearing could thus bring about remarkable changes in not just your psychological but physical well-being as well.
The basis of emotional clearing lies in the holistic view of realising, experiencing, accepting and then finally releasing all negative emotions. Unfortunately many of us, including spiritual seekers, have difficulty in accepting the painful, negative emotions. In our quest for higher consciousness, we may feel it is wrong to be angry, sad or maybe simply jealous. However, the moment we accept that it is okay to feel such negative emotions too, the healing starts and we can let go of these emotions by clearing all blockages.
So if you are still angry with a parent, a friend or a sibling for any real or perceived injustice done to you, tell yourself that it is all right to be angry. The moment you experience that anger, accept it and then finally let go. Pick up that phone and make the call you have been wanting to, but could not make due to your emotional blockages. The other person may or may not respond in a favourable manner but you will definitely feel much better for having started your emotional clearing!
“First understand what freedom is. Drop whatever burden you feel in the mind. Quieten the mind. The mind will say: ‘I want this’, ‘I want that’ – drop everything. Have the sankalpa: I am happy, contented and don’t need anything. When you are free, bliss follows you. ‘
– Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Scientists have found that ideas and thoughts also have some kind of weight or pressure and require energy to be maintained. So imagine the energy wasted on the mental clutter that we carry around.
Set patterns of thinking can also clutter our brain and discourage it from accepting new ideas or suggestions, even if they may actually be better. Perhaps it is our fear of rejection or insecurity that prevents us from shedding an old line of thinking and moving with the times!
Mental clearing is intricately connected to the ability of being able to release or let go. It also means being open to adapting new and positive forms of thinking and working. The ultimate goal is to have a mind that is open to everything but not attached to anything. Many of us cling to old ideologies because we fear the vacuum that follows letting go. A couple of old friends still cling fondly to communism even though they can clearly see that it has little perception of human nature. Similarly, we may have outgrown the teaching of the religion we have been born into but cannot free ourselves because we fear going against the grain of conventional thinking.
It is important to constantly reassess oneself from time to time and update our knowledge of ourselves. We may falsely believe that we never judge, simply because a friend had told you that 10 years ago. This may not be the case any longer. How aware are you of your present habits and dispositions? We need to judge whether we are still vulnerable to fears that hold us back or whether we are still clinging to beliefs and notions that have become obsolete. All of us are constantly evolving as human beings. It would be foolish not to clear out all those thoughts, beliefs and practices which no longer resonate within us. Some techniques which can help in clearing the mind may be:
• Take a walk
• Give attention to the thoughts
• Let go of thinking
• Be in the present moment
• Practise conscious breathing
• Shift to a new scene
• Shift to doing something different
• Free association: Grab a pen and paper and jot down what the first word associated with each thought is. Putting the thoughts on paper in free-association form is a good method of letting them out.
• Reverse the thoughts
• Practice mindful non-judgment
Writer Charles Berner gives a beautiful description of the kind of mindset to aim for:
“An individual who is “Mind Clear” is not under the influence of any impressions that are in the mind and might therefore perceive things as they actually are.
He doesn’t have any fixed attitudes. He has the ability to adopt any attitude or viewpoint that he chooses, or not. He might be in any viewpoint or attitude including anger, irritation, upset, etc., but he’s not stuck in them. They do not run his life. They don’t hold influence over the individual. He doesn’t go on and on in some inappropriate fashion to persevere with an attitude.
He has more freedom of action, thought, approach; and freedom of relating with everybody than ever before. This is a significant step on the road to true liberation.”
|Sri Sri Ravi Shankar ‘Have the sankalpa: I am happy, contented and don’t need anything. When you are free, bliss follows.’|
Spiritual and energy clearing
Ultimately, when all external layers of the physical surrounding have been cleared, only the soul remains to be taken care of! The law of karma is operational in all aspects of our lives. It is perhaps the greatest example of spiritual clearing by the Supreme Being. After all, isn’t it the cycle of birth, death and re-birth that gives each one of us an equal opportunity to clear out all negative influences of the past and make a new beginning each time? It is ordained that we carry forward only the learning from a past life and ensure that every conscious action of ours in this life helps to clear the negative and enhance the positive karma in our kitty.
Spiritual clearing for the seeker would also imply the clearing of doubts. It is a crucial exercise which has to be undertaken in order to progress from one level to the other. Unless all doubts pertaining to a notion or belief is cleared away by a guru or at times even through self-realisation, it would be impossible for the seeker to further strengthen his or her faith and move towards enlightenment.
The spiritual or energy body consists of different levels and the meridians which connect these levels are the energy centres or chakras. Spiritual and energy clearing would imply removing all negative vibes and energies from our bodies or surroundings or both. Some methods of such clearing are as follows:
• Chakra shower
It is a ritualistic bath which has different steps and postures assigned for each of the major chakras of our body. Directing the water at particular chakras would clear out the negative energies trapped in these centres and would enhance the positive vibrations of these meridians. The ritual leaves the individual feeling refreshed, rejuvenated and energised.
The daily hustle bustle of our lives at times forces us to lose the connection with our roots. Often we forget to even touch base with ourselves and over a period of time this results in a feeling of instability or disassociation with our lives and surroundings. A ‘grounding’ ritual helps to clear such negative feelings and enables us to reconnect with our core centre. A popular form of grounding is simply walking barefoot on the soil or grass and coming in direct contact with nature and feeling grounded, secured and focused once again!
• Camphor and cloves
Burning camphor and cloves in any space is believed to absorb all negativity in the surrounding while attracting and enhancing the positive. Incense sticks or aroma oils are other popular energy clearing devices which can provide an instant mood lift and promote a sense of well-being.
• Sound vibrations
The ringing of temple bells or blowing of conch shells are age-old methods of clearing all negative vibes and energies in the surroundings and many Asian households and places of worship have strongly upheld this belief through regular practice.
The chanting of mantras is yet another powerful sound vibration which clears any negativity or harm in your life or surroundings in general.
A clear You:
A clean body, mind, spirit and soul lay the foundation for a happy and fulfilling journey during this lifetime. Shed away all that is unnecessary and let go of whatever is in excess. You will not only travel lighter but much better as well. So, let’s go get out the broom; it’s time for some spring cleaning, folks!
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A clear sky, a clear heart, a clear mindset, clarity in vision and of course, clear soup, all depict a sense of simplicity and transparency.
If we appreciate clarity then why don’t most of us imbibe the quality when it comes to our emotions?
Pent-up and amalgamated feelings are like influenza to the mind and soul. They curb the breath of love in oneself.
If we can’t bear a congested chest and nose even for a few days, how and why do we live with a congested mind for years together?
Releasing and clearing of suppressed emotions can do so much good to us as well as to our loved ones around us. We can then open up a passage for more love to flow into our systems and be free to give and receive.
I tried a simple exercise recently in a desperate attempt to release the anxiety that constantly plagued me:
I thought of all the negative feelings thriving inside me and imagined them to look like tar. Then I visualised myself collecting all of this black tar and making a ball out of it. I then kicked the ball hard in my mind and released it in the sky where it eventually exploded. It felt like a humongous weight was lifted off me.
– Jasleen Bhalla (television producer)
Learning to let go
Cleaning my cupboard allows me to empty my emotional waste. It makes me feel lighter and freer. Listening to spiritual music, and doing shavasan helps me relax and let go of worries that build up during the day. Writing a problem on a piece of paper and burning it or tearing it up helps let go of it. Speaking to a tree also helps me lighten my heart, when I can’t speak to anyone else. A walk on the beach allows the sea salt to cleanse and charge me up. Walking in the park, or a wooded area, or playing with animals have similar effects.
Ira Gandhi, Mumbai
Detoxification for the three doshas
Boil two quarts of water, and add the herbs listed below. Let this steep for about 15-20 minutes. Strain the water and drink through the day, especially 15 minutes after a meal.
Vata: ½ tsp cumin seed, ¼ tsp ajwain seed, ½ tsp fennel seed
Pitta: ½ tsp cumin seed, ½ tsp coriander seed, 2 fresh mint leaves
Kapha: ½ tsp cumin seed, 1 clove, 1-2 slices fresh ginger root
Add a leaf or two of tulsi to the water for all doshas. Tulsi is known for its ability to cleanse the physiology off environmental toxins.
Dr Deepak Chopra gives a seven-step process for emotional clearing
• Take responsibility
• Sense where in the body the emotion is
• Define the emotion
• Express it
• Share it
• Use a ritual to release it