February 2014 By Chitra Jha In the process of eliminating the stuff accumulated over a lifetime, Chitra Jha learns valuable lessons on how clutter consumes energy I grew up in a simple Gandhian home. My father believed in providing for all that was needed for ‘simple living and high thinking’. There was no place for anything frivolous or ornamental. Everything we bought had to be something that was needed. It was a ‘need-based’ household. When I got married in 1984, to a man of my own choosing, I told him, “I am a very basic girl, with very basic needs; and can do with bare minimum stuff in our home.” However, unlike me, he had grown up in a stylish household, and believed in not only keeping an aesthetically pleasing, but also amenities-loaded home. So, he retorted, “You may not need anything, but I do. I need everything.” Hence began our journey of life. We moved from place to place on various transfers, and with each transfer the number of boxes kept increasing; loaded with books, crockery, curios, paintings, clothes, linen, electronic gadgets, gardening tools, furniture, and what have you! Even though we are neither shopaholics nor have unlimited money to splurge, we still have accumulated a lot of stuff over the last 30 years. Some of this stuff gets discovered only when we pack or unpack our boxes, which happens every other year; but we re-pack most of it, thinking that we might need it sometime in the future. But now that the children have flown the nest, and retirement is not far away, we are beginning to look at our stuff with new eyes. Letting go I remember the time in 1989, when my father-in-law moved in with us, in an army captain’s two-bedroom accommodation, along with all his ‘stuff’. Empathising with my predicament at having to find space for all that he had accumulated over the years, he had said, “All this stuff is very dear to me as it carries a lot of our shared memories, but you are an outsider, you have no such attachment. I would like you to use your practical head, keep what you want to keep, and do whatever you wish to do with the rest. Don’t ask me what to do with it, and don’t even tell me what you are going to do with it, lest I stop you.” That had made things easy for me. I kept some things, shared some with his other children, and gave away the rest to whoever needed it. My husband and I do not wish to leave the job of sorting out our stuff to our children. We have decided to deal with it ourselves; especially because we plan to live as simple a life as possible after his retirement. But the enormity of the task overwhelms me; not because we have too much stuff, but because we would need to really open our hearts to give it all away. However, we are keenly looking forward to that time of personal renaissance, as we continue to discover more of who we are, and what we want in life. Our intention is very clear; we want to do the things that we really want to do, and downsizing what we have accumulated sure is one of those things. Years ago, a Feng Shui expert had told me that everything in our home is alive and talks to us. At that time, it had seemed like a figment of her imagination, but today I know better. When I look at each thing while being mindful of my inner dialogue, I learn a lot about myself; as the stuff carries the history of who I was, and perhaps still am. Looking at my home, and what it contains, with conscious eyes, gives me valuable insights into parts of my personality that still need healing. Energy of stuff I know that everything we possess carries energy and information – and when I look at an object with this sensitivity, it talks to me, but I am discovering that this energetic information makes clutter clearing an exhausting and time-consuming task, especially when I am clearing my own stuff, or that of someone dear to me, because I end up feeling the emotional energy the objects hold. In my life coaching sessions, I often ask people about the state of their living space, and more often than not find that those who live with an unrelenting pile of clutter do not feel good about themselves – and vice-versa. It is a vicious cycle. When we do not feel good about ourselves, we end up cluttering our homes, and when the home is cluttered, we do not feel good about ourselves as over-stuffed homes do not allow energy to move and flow. As I listen to the energy of things, I learn that many items we own carry the energy of fear; the fear of offending the person who had given that item to us is one such fear, but most fear comes from the energy of lack. We feel inadequate without that stuff, and fear its loss – whether we use it or not, the fact that it is there when we need it, makes us feel secure. In our search for safety and security, we forget that keeping objects that we don’t like or feel good about, affects our energy more powerfully than we realise. We understand the difference only when we make small changes to our home, and notice big changes in our general sense of well-being. The fact remains that when our home lifts our spirits, it amplifies the happiness quotient in our life. When we feel good in our living space, we are happy people. When we are happy, we attract other happy people, along with happy opportunities in our life. On the other hand, if our home is cluttered with things that do not inspire us or bug us in some way, we become unhappy and depressed. Look around your home today. Observe each object with as much objectivity as possible. Does it reflect your current taste, love, and desires? If not, what can you do about it? How can you make your home a more pleasing place? When every object in your home is something that you use on a regular basis, something that you love, or something that reflects your current taste and desires, then your home will truly feed your soul, uplift your spirit, and move you forward in the direction of your highest potential. When you feel good about yourself, others will enjoy having you around. Your happy home will set forth a positive domino effect; reaching out to everyone and everything you come in contact with. Someone had rightly said, ‘charity begins at home.’ Now I know what they mean.
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