The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Organizing and Decluttering, by Marie Kondo, came highly recommended by so many friends and I have finally finished it! My boyfriend and I moved into a house together recently, and I started yoga teacher training almost immediately afterward. We unpacked all of the boxes right away, but it happened in such a rush that I still don’t know where many of my belongings are in the house. I have this dream of floating into this perfectly organized home, knowing where everything is, and just being creative in my space. I don’t know that life will ever actually be like that, but with Marie Kondo’s help I could maybe get a little closer!
The cornerstone of the Kon-Mari Method is to only keep items that spark joy. She says to discard once and completely, moving one category at a time. Gather all of the items in one category (such as blouses) and lay them out on the ground. Pick up one of the objects, hold it in your hand, and look at it. Does this spark joy? If it does, keep it. If it doesn’t, discard it. There are some items that spark joy with function but maybe not appearance, such as a pocketknife or car key. If you’re wondering if they spark joy or not, try going without them for a day. Maybe you’ll gain a new appreciation for them, or maybe you don’t need them after all! After you’ve sorted through all of your belongings, look at the pile of items that spark joy, and the pile of items that have served their purpose. Do you notice any patterns here?
Now, you can organize those things that spark joy. Items should be stored vertically to take maximum advantage of available space, including clothes. Store all similar items together, and small items in a container like a shoebox.
The Kon-Mari Method can be applied in the same way to your body. Our bodies tell our life story. We have our first nature that we are born with, then the training (or lack of training) efforts and dietary practices that change our bodies into something else. Take a moment to close your eyes and reflect on your body’s habits. Do these spark joy?
In yoga, we move in a way that promotes balance and longevity. It’s very challenging to find the physical awareness of habits developed from other training methods, and even more so to let go of them if they no longer serve you. It’s likely that there are also old thinking patterns and practices that you still hold onto and no longer serve you. In yoga, when a pose gets challenging, it’s easy to resist by not trying or thinking negative thoughts. Yoga is supposed to be challenging. Resisting through negativity keeps us from growing. Do these thought patterns spark joy? If they don’t, can you let them go by changing your expectations?
Sometimes letting go is even more important than adding. It can be a painful process to discover and acknowledge. But you have three choices: face it now, face it later, or avoid it until you die. But I believe that the sooner you put your house in order, the sooner and more fully you can live the life you want for yourself.
The idea behind the Kon-Mari Method is that if we clear out the clutter from our lives, there is space for new things to enter and spark joy, and for the truly joyful items to really shine. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is filled with good advice on proper storage methods and focuses on the tidiness of a living space. A few good pointers: keep it simple, sunlight is a good disinfectant, store similar items together, organize by color from light to dark (yin yang), have a sacred space for personal power (like a shelf that you keep lucky charms on), and leave no stone unturned.
Be aware that, as in all aspects of life, it’s easy to deflect onto the people around you. It’s so easy to focus on what other people are or aren’t doing. For example, maybe it drives me crazy when my boyfriend leaves mail on the coffee table. But if I look around the house, there is way more clutter that I make – like I’m really bad at putting away my clothes. The clutter that you see in other people is likely a reflection of the clutter that you have in yourself. Lead by example, and the people around you will follow. The other day, I came home and my boyfriend had cleared the mail off the coffee table. This was so exciting for me, that I put away all of my clothes.
According to Kon-Mari students, tidying has a more profound effect on individuals than feng shui or power stones. It may be that the act of discarding bolsters the decision-making capabilities of the tidiers. When you put your house in order, you’ve made space to discover what you really want to do. Similarly, yoga is a vehicle for you to find the balance, space, and health that you need to get to a place where you can discover what you want next. Do what sparks joy.