finding a home for ones things as a way to find home within ones self
Everything deserves a place or a home. How can we possibly believe deeply in ourselves when we do not extend the same courtesy to our things? This question aims at exploring how our external environments may be mimicking our internal states of being. The goal is to expose a short-cut to deeper introspection and a sense of internal belonging that can come from caring for our belongings. For example, let’s look at minimalists. From my experience, minimalists often abstain from the classic “junk drawer.” Honestly, junk drawers are one of my guilty pleasures, but when I begin to explore my own junk drawer—or open one with a clients—it tends to be closed quickly. A junk drawer is a place that says, “you like to bury things you are unsure about.” Junk drawers are a good place to start investigating because they are often a small and contained version of that “scary feeling” which arises when we begin to unearth clutter. When one can clean out a junk drawer they often garner the courage to face other cluttered areas in their home. Marie Kando would say start with the closet. Her system hones an awareness of objects “sparking joy.” She moves through 1. clothes than 2. books, then 3. papers, then 4. kimono (miscellaneous) and then 5.sentimental items. I believe her system to be almost flawless. That said, I find the junk-drawer-first approach is a good appetizer for what is to come.
Clean up can be a catalyst for deeper resonance with our authentic selves because it allows us to make space both physically and subconsciously. Imagine opening a junk drawer and knowing there are layers of things tossed in and subsequently piled up over time. What are your feelings? Maybe you want to quickly close the junk drawer and forget about it. What is in there that prompts that fear response? Now imagine opening a drawer you designed: it is spacious and has clear cut nooks for everything you actually use every day. A spot for scissors, a spot for tape, a little home for pens and pencils. Ahh, that feels better; everything has a home, a space allocated for it to return to and rest while not in use.
With the advent of technology, it is easy to feel we are always in use. With this comes a greater need for boundaries around a space to rest and relax. The focus with Nested Feng Shui is to “help clients settle into themselves, by settling into their space.” In more scientific terms, Nested Feng Shui focuses on how to help spaces support dropping into their parasympathetic systems: the “rest and digest system.” Honestly, a home is a place to rest and digest. Maybe there will be the occasional party or guest, and yes, with the advent of technology like laptops more and more of us work from home, but overall home is intended to be a sanctuary to relax and restore with good sleep and good food. To facilitate this parasympathetic reaction at the deepest level we need to feel at peace with our space.
To be frank, getting organized is a gargantuan task often undervalued in our society. Most clients looking for help tend to assume they are the only ones struggling with organization. It amuses me because even as a Feng Shui Consultant who loves Marie Kando, I struggle to stay organized—and I have all the tools in my arsenal to fight off physical clutter. What I realize watching myself and my clients is the battle is within ourselves and within our headspaces. More often than not I find the attachments we have to our objects and/or the ways that we have collected them holds a deep resonance and value in our sense of self and safety. The reason I am of service is that as a Feng Shui Consultant I play the audience and everyone benefits from an audience. Think of a child learning to walk: it much easier to fall over and look up at mommy and daddy’s smiling faces cheering you on and then get back up again than it is to fall over alone and fixate on the pain and shame and confusion of falling over. As an organizational consultant, my personal approach is to meet each client where they are at. Some people need to be bossed around, others need someone to clap and cheer when a client they have done an excellent job, some even need someone to help laugh off stumbling upon a belong that brings up fear and shame. Mostly, my approach to organizing is to lean-in with my client when it feels intense and remind them they are not alone. Organizing is hard AND it is worth doing. I moved almost six months ago and have still not opened the two 27 gallon crates with my books and old papers. The boxes represent all the years of study and stories I escaped into as a child and teen. Opening them feels like a can of worms, letting go of some of the books (some probably musty or moldy) feel like abandoning something I love, and there is a lot to be acknowledged in those boxes. Additionally, my parents helped pack them up, so leaving them around in a new home feels like a talisman or protective totem telling the space “no one can get me because these boxes are love infused.” Compassion and understanding for my client’s attachment to particular things come from a deeply personal place of battling with saying goodbye to pieces of my past. There is nothing wrong with having clutter; there is, however, a freedom that is worth striving for in letting it go and relishing the extra space.
So let’s get back to “everything deserves a place or a home.” Everyone deserves a home, and we have one, our bodies. “Home is inside” and I personally believe there is great value in feeling a deep sense of belonging to one’s authentic, centered self. There are mentors in my life I can point to who seem to feel at home with themselves. They exhibit attitudes worth aspiring to, loving themselves and not looking for approval or comparing themselves to others. Rather than trying to fill a void with food or drugs or alcohol, they seem to effortlessly respect their bodies’ needs and their brains’ wants. Focusing on being outside, spending time with their pets and loved ones, cooking, practicing yoga, etc. There is much to be desired for being at home with one's self, but I am not there. I am a post-grad buried under mountains of my childhood things: old clothes I am scared to get rid of, boxes of books, piles of bills and paperwork, all things we all collect. Often times I find it easier to meet clients (yoga or Feng Shui) where they are at. For me, as my own client, this meant starting small with a junk drawer. For clients it means looking at their homes, the most intimate space outside of themselves, where they rest and digest and to come back to, day after day, for shelter and seeing what is around them.
There is merit to the idea that our true home is something that is inside of us and that it is all we have to cultivate. In reality, we have jobs, we have people we love, and we have a place to sleep and feed ourselves. These are an extension of that brain space and body and often by de-cluttering those spaces, we make space to find “home” within ourselves.