By now, you’re probably familiar with my book, The Declutter Code: 10 Simple Steps to Clarity and how it explores the simple philosophy behind decluttering our minds and the journey to getting clear.
It is a process to declutter our lives. It shines a light on our clinging and hoarding, and clears the way through mental and environmental clutter. It accomplishes this by offering steps to calm the chaos and clear the fog in our minds. It encourages full-body awareness and the use of our senses.
The results of practicing The Declutter Code, in addition to clarity, are peace of mind, less stress, managed anxiety and freedom from overwhelm.
The next several blog posts are dedicated to the 10 steps of The Declutter Code. I’ll break down each step and provide a quick and easy way to incorporate it into your life.
Don’t let the simplicity of these steps fool you. They are powerful, decisive and transformative.
Step 1: Slow
To slow is to pause. It is a significant and unmistakable pausing to breathe, observe and reflect. It is taking our foot off the gas and physically slowing the movement of our bodies. It is becoming slow to speak and slow to react.
Slowing invites in a respite from the frantic, crazed doing. A treat for our sanity. We slow down to go with the flow.
To slow is to come into awareness because as we slow down physically and mentally, our senses heighten and we take notice of our surroundings. Because we slow down, everything around us slows down.
The slower pace makes it possible to hear, smell, see, taste and touch, more consciously and more mindfully.
How It Clears Clutter
Slowing is decluttering.
Constant movement clutters the mind. It doesn’t allow for a break in the endlessness of hustle and routine, which can lead to overwhelm and overload. The more cool, calm and collected we become, the easier it is to slow the clutter buildup at inception.
Slowing down is slowing our mental activity from missile-launcher to mindful. We become watchful over our thoughts and stories. We deliberately slow our intake of information, being more cautious over our ears, eyes and mouths.
And what follows is being slower to judge, complain, and victimize ourselves. Slower to stuff our mouths with food for comfort or escape. Slower to fill our calendars with too many activities and appointments.
When we slow, we build in breathing room—room for rest and reflection. Space opens in our schedules and our day-to-day routine to live and experience what’s happening now, instead of five minutes from now. Last-minute activities are few and far between. Planning our day around our priorities and resources comes easier. Rushing around stops being as necessary or important.
When we slow down, we make time to experience deeply and fully, which makes space for observation and gratitude. Allowance and acceptance. We’re slower to draw conclusions or make assumptions. We’re slower to commit to new roles and responsibilities. We pause for inspiration before acting.
So instead of being always on the run, we’re scheduling room to breathe into our life experience. We’re able to measure our activities against our priorities and see if they’re aligned. If they’re not aligned, we’re slow (not frantic) enough to make proper adjustments to our day without huge hiccups.
What This Feels Like
The benefits of slowing down are endless, starting with how it makes us feel. Slowing feels like the physiological slowing down of breath, pulse and heart rate. It feels like a calmer mind and body.
It feels like relief from the constant grind of going and doing, doing and going. It feels like “taking a breather.”
Slowing down heightens the senses so we are more keenly aware of even the most subtle thought, smell, texture, sound and flavor. Attuned to our surroundings, all senses work jointly to offer a robust experience. The sniffing nose smells a single fragrance in a bouquet. The touching hand feels the smallest pebble in the sand. The listening ear hears the faintest chord in the orchestra. The tasting mouth tastes the hint of nutmeg in a bowl of chili.
A Tool for Slowing: Yoga
Yoga is a great tool for mind-body awareness—and mind-body awareness is the key to decluttering. Yoga, with its strengthening and lengthening postures, helps us slow down and connect mind with body. To get into a posture and gradually perfect its expression within your body requires our slowing down and an intention to adjust the body accordingly.
Mind sets the pace and the endurance of the body. Slow, deliberate movement allows us to recognize the interplay between mind and body and how they constantly work as one. Each yogic posture depends on every muscle group, for balance, for execution, and the mind (thought) is at the precipice of each.
We can witness how the mind thinks and gets us to move. This is moving meditation. We mind our thoughts and gain insight as to how they affect the body’s behavior.
When I first got into yoga, I immediately felt the mind-body connection that it fosters. I’d watch myself move from one posture into the next and felt the ripple effect throughout my body. I found that whenever I fell out of a posture or got discouraged, I could immediately sense that it was because of what I was telling myself in the posture. I’d be comparing myself to another yogi. I’d be dissatisfied with my abilities or progress. I’d be hungry, looking forward to what I was going to eat after class. Distractions. And in those moments my practice suffered.
Now, when I am focused on my body, my breath, and the instruction, I am tuned into the inner workings of my mind and how it creates my entire life experience. I stay centered and enjoy the dance.
Practice Slowing Today
Take a beginner Hatha, vinyasa or Ashtanga yoga class, even if you’re a seasoned pro. Return to the basics of a beginner yoga class so you can slow down.
Watch your mind instruct your body. Watch how both work in unison. Come into a beginner’s mind to experience the connecting of mind and body without heavily contorting postures or inversions.
You can find a local yoga studio simply by searching “yoga + your city” on Google. I would attend a group class for your first time, if you can, for the benefit of live instruction. Most studios offer a free first class.
Leave a comment below on your experience with yoga and the practice of slowing. What does it feel like for you?
Excerpt taken from “The Declutter Code: 10 Simple Steps to Clarity.”