Last year I went on a giveaway cleanse. I gave away ten things each day for ten days. At the end of the period, I had 100 items that I happily gave up.
At the beginning of this year, I embarked on a kind of similar culling process, but this time focused on things I could use up. For some reason, the thought of all the half-used bottles and containers of stuff made me batty. Seriously. I was on a mission to use up all of the crap and lighten the feeling in my space.
I made up recipes to use up all the little bits of rice, quinoa, amaranth, currants and lentils. I used up small shampoos and conditioners, hand lotions, ends of body lotions, all in an effort to declutter, and, in a sense, simplify my life. My goal was that feeling that you get when you’re on vacation and you’re all unpacked in your hotel room. You have, like, 5-10 outfit choices and everything is easy to see and find. It takes no time to get ready, and life just seems so simple and, well, uncluttered.
At some point this winter, I came across Marie Kondo and her book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’ve read it and started the work. Yes, started is the key word here. I think that we can generally divide people into two groups: those who like stuff and those who don’t. I come from a long line of collectors, so my urge is to collect treasures. But my yoga practice demands the opposite of me. I’m by no means finished, but I’m somewhere along the way.
Having a simplified space is healthy. Think of a spa retreat and all the clean lines and minimalism. Think of a monk or person devoted to a religious practice. And cleaning up is just so… yoga.
Have you ever had several tabs open in an internet window and had someone make a comment, like, “Whoa… you’ve got a lot going on there.” And you think, “I know, you should see what it looks like in my head.”
Constant clutter can really do a number on our psyches. Outside clutter is a physical expression of what’s happening inside. If we have tons of stuff in our personal space, we’ve got tons of stuff in our minds. It can be hard to finish projects. It can be hard to get anything started… How can we start a meditation practice when our home is cluttered? How can we make a beautiful, healthy meal if our kitchen is dirty and full of junk food? How can we invite abundance into our lives if we haven’t let go of the old crap that’s slowing us down?
It’s like an iceberg, as above, so below. Cleaning our personal spaces falls under the yoga principles shaucha, or living purely, and aparigraha, or non-grasping. In her book, Yoga Mind, Body & Spirit: A Return to Wholeness, Donna Farhi describes shaucha as:
“Maintaining a cleanliness in body, mind, and environment so that we can experience ourselves at a higher resolution. The word pure comes from the Latin purus, which means clean and unadulterated. When we take in healthy food, untainted by pesticides and unnatural additives, the body starts to function more smoothly. When we read books that elevate our consciousness, see movies that inspire, and associate with gentle people, we are feeding the mind in a way that nourishes our own peacefulness. Creating a home environment that is elegant, simple, and uncluttered generates an atmosphere where we are not constantly distracted by the paraphernalia of yesterday’s projects and last year’s knickknacks. Shaucha is a testament to the positive power of association.”
With that in mind, here are some of the most important things I’ve learned from Marie Kondo, peppered with a little yoga stuff:
1. Don’t be afraid to give things away.
How many things do we keep simply out of guilt? How many half-read books line our shelves? (Mine are literally bursting at the seams and I have to file books into double rows.) Marie Kondo says, if you’ve only half-finished a book and can’t get into it, send it on its way. Thank it for coming into your life and set it free to someone who will appreciate it. That book is doing you no favours aside from collecting dust and making you feel like you’re bad at reading. Say goodbye. And next time, follow the yoga principle of only allowing one book on your nightstand. This moves your consciousness in one direction rather than several, and just helps you get more into the book. If you’re not into it, donate it and move on. Amen.
2. Go by category.
Be yoga. Instead of being like a cleaning a tornado around your house, look at each category on its own. Your closet and clothes, your kitchen, your bags, etc. Keep whatever clothes make you feel beautiful and fantastic. Have things tailored that don’t quite fit, toss anything that you’re just keeping out of guilt. Contemplate one of those blog posts you’ve read about paring down your wardrobe into the absolute essential pieces for a French person or the new normcore trend. Once you’re done, arrange everything like Gwyneth would. Repeat on the next category.
“To get rid of what you no longer need is neither wasteful nor shameful. Can you truthfully say that you treasure something buried so deeply in a closet or drawer that you have forgotten its existence? If things had feelings, they would certainly not be happy. Free them from the prison to which you have relegated them. Help them leave that deserted isle to which you have exiled them. Let them go, with gratitude. Not only you, but your things as well, will feel clear and refreshed when you are done tidying.” –Marie Kondo
3. Don’t clean every day.
Cleaning should be a ritual, not a chore. Pick one day to clean. Blast the same album on repeat, throw on your weirdest outfit and set out to totally clean your space. You just throw yourself into it, 100%. You’re conscious cleaning. This is called flow and it yields the most amazing results.
4. Do the contents of your home spark joy?
When it comes to what to keep vs. what to toss, ask yourself whether the item itself “sparks joy” and brings beauty or function to your home. I think back to a quote I read a long time ago: “Do not keep anything in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” My gosh, what would that feel like?
5. Clean your kitchen.
Although this isn’t necessarily a Marie Kondo thing, having a clean and happy kitchen sets the stage for the healthy and beautiful food that you’ll cook. As Robin and Jan Robinson explain in their book The Sacred Kitchen, the kitchen should be viewed as the stress-free, holy place of the house. For many of us, our kitchens bring up negative feelings – our kitchens are the places that we feel relegated to. Cooking for ourselves is a necessity but sometimes the kitchen can feel like a cooking and cleaning prison. But if we take care to move out all the old stuff in the pantry that we don’t eat (especially the unhealthy stuff), remove dishes that we don’t like eating from, and improving the look of the kitchen, especially ensuring its cleanliness, we can do wonders for our outlook on nourishing ourselves. (If you need help determining what to ditch, get in touch.)
“The next time you are making a meal for yourself, stop and think a moment. Are you aware of the significance of what you are doing? The primary purpose of cooking is to prepare foods that will sustain our physical and psychological well being, nourish our humanity and improve the quality of our life.” –Lima Ohsawa, Macrobiotic Cuisine
6. And my favourite, if you wear track pants all the time, you’ll start to look like you belong in them.
Unless it’s yoga or workout clothes. I have no problem with that.
As Marie Kondo says, our living spaces affect our bodies. If we’re doing all the right diet and exercise stuff, but live in clutter, we’re missing out on a big piece of the puzzle. I’m sure that you’ve heard the phrase that our bodies are our temples. Our bodies are where our souls live, so we should do what we can to make our bodies as healthy as possible. We think of cleansing our bodies but we rarely think of giving our homes the same love. Our homes are where our bodies live, so we should make our homes the ideal places for our bodies to live.
Wishing you happy and healthy temples of body and home. xo Andrea
p.s. If you want to delve a little deeper, I definitely recommend that you pick up Marie Kondo’s book.
Goodbye Summer Juice Cleanse with CEDAR Juice
If this post has made you want to do a juice cleanse, my gosh, you’re in luck.
The amazing yoga teacher and human Joshua Lewis and I have partnered with CEDAR Juice, a Toronto-based organic and cold pressed juice company. These guys are amazing. They make all their juice in the Junction. The juices are delicious and always organic, cold-pressed to keep nutrients and enzymes alive, and never pasteurized.We had such positive feedback from our group of juice cleansers this past April that we wanted to offer you another cleanse. We’ve made it even easier and better this time around:
- 10% discount on your Cedar juice cleanse
- Open to anyone across Canada (shipping is free across Ontario)
- Dates are flexible. You can choose a date that works for you, discount and all
- When you sign up with Cedar and us, we’ll invite you to a private Facebook group
How to sign up:
- Go to http://cedarjuice.com/cart
- Select whichever juice cleanse you’d like (this time around, the offer is valid for both the 3-day or the 5-day cleanse options)
- Select your desired delivery date
- Enter promocode GoodbyeSummerCleanse
Email either of us to let us know that you signed up so we can add you to the Facebook group (or comment below).
And, if you’re cleansing with us and are in Toronto, the incredible yoga/pilates/Thai yoga massage powerhouse Robin Lamarr has graciously offered a 20% discount on her services. Let her touch you!
Juice cleansing is a great way to reset your body. Many people who regularly do Healthy Delicious cleanses find that a juice cleanse is a great next step. And starting a juice cleanse at the end of summer is kind of like the perfect time. Your body is still warm from the summer sun and it’s typically a time when you want to jumpstart a new routine. If you’d like to learn more about juice cleansing, read these posts: