We recognize physical clutter, but do we know when it's time for a spiritual de-cluttering?
This post was originally published as a guest post on Cyndi Briggs's blog The Sophia Project. It is no longer available there, so I've refreshed it and am sharing it here again.
Spiritual life gets cluttered too
Some days, my prayer time is frenetic, and my mind bounces all over the place. I’m sure I must seem like a squirming puppy on God’s lap, cute and lovable perhaps, but unwilling to settle down and enjoy a peaceful and meaningful interaction.
This unsettled feeling is just one sign I might need a little spiritual de-cluttering.
Spiritual de-cluttering is getting rid of as many distractions as possible to create the sacred space in which we can meet and connect with the divine power in our lives.
It makes perfect sense: if a clean desk contributes to increased productivity in my business life, a clean spirit can do the same in my spiritual life.
Watch for the signs
Besides the challenge of achieving mental calm during prayer time, there are other signs it might be time to step back, take stock, identify the distractions or obstacles, and consider what might need to be swept out of your life.
- Emotional fragility
When I break out in tears (or want to) without any easily identifiable cause, I know I’m either tired or overcommitted.
- Unusual anxiety
Anxiety is a normal part of life, but when it escalates for no obvious reason, there’s usually something else going on.
- Relegating God to a to-do list
Most of us hit the floor running in the morning. I start my day with quiet time, but far too often, I realize I was in “get it done” mode and didn’t seriously engage in meditation or prayer.
“Clutter is postponed decisions.” (Barbara Hemphill, organizational expert). If I’m honest with myself, my restlessness may stem from grappling with choices that stir me up until I’ve made a decision.
Spiritual de-cluttering must be intentional and, like physical de-cluttering, it has to be repeated from time to time. Consider these tips I’ve found helpful:
- Get up earlier, before the household gets too busy and distracting.
- Take a walk.
Breathe in the natural beauty all around and breathe out your frustrations and worries.
- Finish what you start and beware of procrastination—it causes stress.
- Honestly identify worries and hard feelings.
Dump them in an imaginary trash can, close the lid down tightly, and resist the urge to take it off.
- Think about the emotional triggers in your life.
Acknowledging them is a step towards diminishing their power over you.
- Notice the connection between your inner feelings and your outer surroundings.
Would some physical de-cluttering of your home or office help? I’ve written about this before: “Find yourself when you remove the clutter.”
- Delegate or resign.
Ask yourself if you are over-committed or if there's any activity you can change. I often find delegating or resigning from something can make a huge difference to my inner calm.
- Get enough sleep.
I know I suggested getting up earlier, but perhaps your schedule could include a nap or an earlier bedtime.
- Take some downtime before you go to bed.
If I work at my computer right up until bedtime, I rarely sleep as well.
- Try a “brain dump” before you go to bed.
Are you worried about forgetting to do something important? Get in the habit of doing writing down your to-do list at the end of each day. This enables you to go to sleep and know you'll be reminded in the morning.
- Try meditation.
I have enjoyed the app “Headspace” and find its approach to reducing the noise in my head is refreshing and non-threatening.
Lay claim to your sacred space
You’ve worked hard clearing a sacred space. Now step into it.
Make yourself at home.
In your mind’s eye, feel the fresh air, the warmth of a sunbeam. Listen to the burble of water in the courtyard fountain, the tinkle of wind chimes. Come with an open heart and a grateful spirit, ready to receive the gifts of Spirit.
Don’t slog through your life under the weight of unnecessary spiritual clutter. Lighten your load and let the sunshine in! Let me know what helps you most to create sacred space in your life. We’re all on this journey together.