Saturdays with Silvia: Clearing out the Clutter

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This morning’s class with Silvia was refreshing and challenging. The theme of the class focused on physical and mental clutter in our lives and how this space waster distracts us from those things we should be concentrating on.

Silvia started the class with a simple question: “Who was the first person in your life who taught you how to concentrate?” I sat (stood?) there in down dog with a big, fat blank in my head. I don’t ever remember any relative sitting me down and just teaching me how to be there in the moment. I was too busy chasing my brother around the house and tormenting him — you know, big sister stuff.

As we started to flow, Silvia brought up a book endorsed by Oprah (so you know it has to be good), “Does this Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?”  Humorous title aside, the book’s premise is that our life’s clutter sometimes — indirectly or directly — influences us to make poor decisions. This can manifest itself in over-eating, in how we treat ourselves and others, etc.

Finally, Silvia let us know that none of us were taught to concentrate. Ever. (Phew, because I was getting really worried about my upbringing for a second there…). In order to quiet the mind, we have to learn how to clean out the clutter in our lives. Yoga is a perfect example of one method for de-cluttering the mind. Every pose is supposed to require such physical strain that you have no choice but to concentrate on staying still, letting the other thoughts float away with the tide.

As I drove home, I was thinking about clutter in my life. I am already a very tidy person, but I have this ritual of getting into the nitty gritty of organizing and cleaning when something is really bothering me. When my grandpa passed away, I reorganized every kitchen cupboard and drawer in the house, purged clothes I haven’t worn for years and did a deep clean on the entire place. For less extreme times, such as when I’m preparing to write an important paper or start a big project for work, I have to “prep” the room before starting. If the room around me is not de-cluttered, I can’t seem to find space in my mind to work.

Does anyone else experience this same kind of urge to de-clutter when things are getting to be overwhelming?

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