Letting go of clutter = Letting go of pain

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Recently, Oprah (on her show and podcast Super Soul Sunday) has started a special series on the book “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. Each Monday they talk together about a different chapter and readers of the book call in with their questions. I read this book many years ago, but this program reignited my interest in it. I picked up a copy of the book and to my surprise the chapter on the “pain body” really had a lot of meaning to me. I began to wonder if letting go of clutter and extra things in your environment could lead to letting go of pain. In my experience it certainly has.

According to Tolle “This energy field of old but still very-much-alive emotion that lives in almost every human being is the pain-body.”

I also believe that a negative energy force can live in the clutter we keep in our homes. Even if it is an every day item that we keep that belonged to someone else, if there was pain around this person in our lives or if it was painful to let them go because they have passed away, that item can carry pain with it instead of joy. You will know when you look at or hold those items.

In the chapter called “Breaking Free” Tolle states:

It is your conscious Presence that breaks the identification with the pain-body. When you don’t identify with it, the pain body can no longer control your thinking and so cannot renew itself any more by feeding on your thoughts. The pain-body in most cases does not dissolve immediately, but once you have severed the link between it and your thinking, the pain body begins to lose energy. Your thinking ceases to be clouded by emotion; your present perceptions are no longer distorted by the past.

—Eckhart Tolle “A New Earth”

When we are clearing our homes we are focusing very much on the present moment with our things as we decide what to keep in our homes and what to let go of. In this sense, the amount of pain and stress dissipates with each clearing session. You are clearing away more than just physical items. You are clearing away the painful attachments you held on to for so long that are no longer serving you in this present moment.

It’s like with each box and bag that leaves your home, a part of you feels a little lighter, there is less stress from the past weighing on you. You are freeing yourself from the pain that those things represent and lightening the load on your body and your mind.

When we no longer identify with, or put a label on certain things such as “I should keep this because _____________ gave it to me.” or “This belonged to _____________.” If you have a warm, loving feeling around that item, by all means keep it in your home because it radiates love. However, if the item is kept because of guilt, shame or an attachment to someone negative in your life or a difficult time in your life, let it go. It is part of the pain that is not serving you in your present moment.

Have you found that when you let go of things you feel less stress or you feel lighter? It means that you are starting to let go of the pain in your life.

Comment below on this question, or feel free to email me at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Joyful Minimalism: 

If you are ready to explore your things but need weekly/daily support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. 
trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Phone Addiction: Reclaiming my life and days

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Around a week or so ago, an event happened to a friend of mine that changed my life as well. My friend (and accountability partner) was painting her kitchen and had a bucket of water near her when she accidentally dropped her phone in the bucket. She had to dry out her phone for several days, so that meant no phone for her during that time. Curiously, at this same time I was noticing that I was spending way too much time on my phone, especially continually checking email and social media. At the end of the day, or even during the day it would feel as though my brain were scrambled and confused from information overload. It was such a happy accident that my friend went without her phone for a few days, because it was a wake-up call to me that living without a phone, or reducing your time significantly on it can be so, so valuable.

Before this big change which I will tell you about here, I was spending an average of 4-5 hours a day on my phone. I know that some of that was listening to podcasts, however I know a lot of time was wasted checking too many apps too many times in a row. I was shocked at how much time I was spending on my phone, but I noticed I would go back to the same habits. Since I had been exploring the concept of the present moment so much and wondering why we are all so afraid of the present moment, I decided to create a different daily experience to reclaim my days. It is important to note that I am not perfect. At times I really feel like checking in on something, so I may do that, but my habits have gotten so much better over the past few days and the results have been astounding.

First of all, my first few minutes of the day are not spent checking in on anything on my phone. I have started to meditate, then exercise first thing in the morning. I used to use the timer on my phone for meditation but that caused me to launch into checking other things. So, now I use the oven timer for meditation.

My accountability partner and I have cooperated on how many messages we now leave each other per day as far as our progress and things we have learned. The limit on the messages means that we both have a big part of the day that is dedicated to focused work. That is so very important that you have time during your day to really focus and not be distracted by notifications, messages, apps, texts, emails and phone calls. This means report on what is to get done in the morning and then we don’t come back until the afternoon to report on how we have done for the day. This system works great!

I have also set a short amount of time to post on social media for my business which includes Facebook and Instagram. I do quickly check notifications and answer comments/questions. Over the last few days I have met a friend in person for tea, but I have not really looked at a lot of what is going on with people’s lives on Facebook. At the beginning it can feel like maybe you are not in the loop as far as the news with people that you know. However, I feel much more connected to people when I am able to meet with them in person over coffee, tea or a meal. I am making that type of connection a priority right now. I can text, email or call people as well who are long distance. I don’t have to be “in the know” about every detail at every moment because I have found that it really overloads my brain and I don’t have the capacity to be at my best for myself, my business or my family in that scrambled state.

I have noticed that if I have focused work time from 8:30am-11:30am I can accomplish an amazing amount of work. I can do a lot of writing, following up with people, work on my website and more. This is my real creative time and if I keep my brain clear it can really work for me. I have been amazed at how productive such a short work time can be if you really keep focused and on task.

After I have had lots of productive time in the morning I can then enjoy a lunch break, do some projects or chores, do some errands, spend time reading a book and more. I have more free hours to really explore life. The other day I even got out a paint set and painted on some nice multi-media paper and had a relaxing time.

In the evenings I can relax sooner after dinner, chat with my family, have family reading time and more. Limiting the time on my phone has brought me more time, more peace of mind, more focus and more present moment awareness.

I realize that I really was addicted to my phone. I think often when I was checking email and social media was that I was searching for validation, searching for proof that I was enough. I don’t need that because I have the present moment to tell me that I have infinite possibilities to explore in life.

Have you found that you are spending too much time on your phone? Are you checking email and social media too much? What has your experience been with this?

Feel free to comment below or email me at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Joyful Minimalism: 

If you are ready to explore your things but need weekly/daily support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. 

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Are we afraid of the present moment?

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A little while ago as I was working away daily on clearing my home of extra clutter, I went through several “memory boxes” I had of old letters, journals and other mementos. It was a very interesting process because it had been so, so long since I last looked at these items. Most of them were from the 1990’s when I was an exchange student in Mexico or later on in college. A quick look at most of these items made me realize that by keeping so many of these although I didn’t look at them, symbolically I was living a lot in the past. I began to wonder- Are we afraid of the present moment?

I posted a photo of my memory boxes and journals on social media and so many people said that it would be so very difficult for them to get rid of those items. It made me ponder my own attachments to these letters, journals and documents. Yes, it is important to have a record of where you have been, and maybe my son or future generations would like to look at these items to get to know more of who I was or what I did in life and my relationships. On the other hand, by keeping so, so much of this old stuff, I felt a bit stuck in the past and part of me felt held back by even having so many boxes and bags of the past hanging around. It felt like a strange old security blanket telling me to hold on, but not to look at my present moment and live here.

Here’s what I did with those old memories that I feel at peace with here in my present moment. I can tell you that I had to take 2 passes at my old papers in order to be at peace with what I kept and what I recycled. I didn’t look at every single letter, but I did save sections of letters from people that still matter to me now in my present moment. The limit I put on myself was that I could keep 1 notebook full of old cards and letters and one box of memories of journals/mementos. The last go-round of looking through those things and making the notebook took over two hours. However, I really feel so very much lighter and able to live right now in this beautiful moment with the rain falling outside my window. Right now I am content with who I am and who I am becoming and some memories along the way that I did choose to keep brought me to this moment here today.

This process made me realize that I was really afraid of the present moment. I was hanging on to a large amount of the past in the physical form of these items. A lot of times physical and also mental clutter from the past can hold us back from living our true potential right now. Having fewer of these items means that i can begin to live in the now.

Beginning with paring down the past by de-cluttering my old papers and journals was a great foundation for me to build upon to start being less afraid of the present moment in other ways as well. I began to get curious about why I kept checking email and social media multiple times a day. It can falsely feel like we are living in the present moment by checking up on “what’s going on.” but really we are still not in the present when on our phones so much. Things people post have already happened and you won’t get an important e-mail every 5 minutes. I noticed that every day starting in the morning I would be continually distracted by checking way too many apps. I was shocked to see that I was spending sometimes more than 5 hours a day on my phone!

Determined to get that time back and be more present with myself, my family, my friends and activities that matter to me, I experimented beginning with last weekend. I decided I would spend very little time on my phone, especially in the mornings. Mornings are my creative time, a time when my brain works best on things like writing and creating. I made sure to start my day out with meditation, tea and breakfast instead of the usual round-robin of checking email and social media. It felt so relaxing. It reminded me of the few letters that I did keep. I remember a time that we couldn’t instantly share what was going on in our lives every single second. We would save up our news and write it into letters for those living far away. We took extra care and time with those letters. We could live our lives in the present moment more, and just take a bit of time to write letters when we wanted to communicate with someone out of town.

My weekend experiment worked very well. I only checked email a couple of times and didn’t check social media at all. I was amazed at how much time I had to read, study my Japanese, do a bit of writing in my notebook and just relax a bit with my family. I really did reclaim those several hours a day and my brain didn’t feel as scrambled as it did when I was on my phone so much. It felt like real rest, real connection to the present moment and real connection to myself and others.

My question to you is: Are you afraid of the present moment? Can you get curious about what is going on there? How can you change your connection with the present moment and be there more each day? Leave a comment below or email me at:

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Joyful Minimalism: 

If you are ready to explore your things but need weekly/daily support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. 

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com

Nowhere for the Eye to Rest

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Random Items:

The other day I was working with a long distance client in the U.K. and commenting on the videos of her home that she sent me to help her on. Her main areas to work on were her kitchen and her living room. She wanted to spruce them up and learn what items to move, what to de-clutter and how to decorate her space using what she had.

As I looked around her kitchen I noticed that she had some items on top of her kitchen cabinets that she was storing there. Some of the items were in boxes. I couldn’t tell what all of the items were, but I know that they are items that she uses in the kitchen. I asked her if she could perhaps move them to a different area, like the pantry or inside a cabinet because “there is nowhere for the eye to rest.”

By seeing random items on top of cabinets as our eyes move around the room, it creates a bit of unrest, we are unable to find a focal point in the room and it leaves us feeling more stressed. Even though we can get used to items being in random places such as on top of cabinets, there is a hidden stress that is occurring in our environment on a daily basis. Because there is no one focal point for our eyes to rest on we may feel overwhelmed in the rooms in our homes. Our homes can begin to feel more like storage facilities rather than a cozy, peaceful space to live in.

Allowing our Eyes to Rest:

An alternative that allows our eyes to rest is to place a few choice items of a similar size, shape or color on top of the cabinets so that our eyes can rest on those and we find a place of peace and beauty there. Imagine a small collection of 3-5 vases of a similar color, or 3-5 potted plants that add greenery and aliveness to the room. This alternative allows us to take in the beauty of those few things that we have decided to keep and lovingly display instead of viewing our collection of stored items every day.

Action step:

Look around your home and see if your eyes are allowed to rest, or if there are too many items to look at and you feel overwhelmed. Try de-cluttering those items first. Which ones do you need to keep? Do you use them often? With the items you have chosen to keep, where can you store them so that they do get more use? What decorative items do you already have that you can display there instead, or just leave a blank space to enjoy as well. This is a great action step to take with bookshelves and china cabinets with glass doors.

Let me know how you progress with this action step and comment below!

Joyful Minimalism: 

If you are ready to explore your things but need weekly/daily support and would like to work with me one on one, feel free to reach out to me by email and I can send you a client survey and set up a call with you. I can work with local clients and long distance clients. 

trista.signe.ainsworth@gmail.com