As the new year has dawned, I’ve been reflecting on the idea of clearing space to leave room for new possibilities during this brand new calendar year, this fresh canvas of time.
There are of course many different ways to think about this, but the obvious place to start is the cluttered spaces most of us co-exist with: rooms overcrowded with furniture and possessions; drawers and cupboards crammed to the gills; desks awash in papers; electronic devices bursting with a dizzying array of data; unfinished projects filling our shelves and crowding our conscience.
A huge and immediate visual reward results from clearing away what no longer serves us. Life becomes instantly simpler, calmer. And we have a new clarity and energy, as the more spacious open vistas allow us to see our world more clearly and recognize what really matters.
For me, there’s a wonderful exhilaration that comes from rolling up my proverbial sleeves to look afresh at what I have, using my new eyes to cull what’s old and no longer needed to make space for something new. What’s interesting is that the “something new” is rarely, if ever, a physical something, but rather an opportunity to grow in new ways; to expand more fully into the life I truly want.
For many of my clients, a large majority of whom are discovering how to reclaim their health and become powerful agents of change in their own life, this clearing of space is both extremely practical and highly symbolic. Prolonged illness very often leaves people with a backlog of household projects, including managing belongings and keeping household order. So it is immensely empowering to take charge of ordering our physical world once again: to create a new canvas that reflects and supports our new revitalized self. It’s also true that dusty, musty piles of possessions create a stuck, stagnant energy in our environment that subtly erodes both health and well-being. How much are these unwanted, unneeded objects in our lives holding us back from the flourishing health and joyful lives we deeply desire?
Important as they are, though, the spaces we live in are really just the external expression of our internal landscape. Clearing takes on even more powerful meaning when we look beyond the world of physical possessions and the dust they collect to deeper less tangible levels of being.
· We might start by asking what’s holding us back from freeing ourselves from the dead weights of all this unwanted stuff. Usually it’s about fear: fear of letting go, fear of our future, fear of life’s uncertainty. Somehow our possessions equate to comfort and security in this way of thinking. Though the reality is something else entirely. What would it be like to have comfort in life’s uncertainty without feeling the need to carry these heavy loads? To feel the lightness of newfound trust and confidence in our own inner resources to navigate whatever life delivers?
· What are the old beliefs and stories we’ve been telling ourselves, sometimes for many years, that we now realize are old and outdated? How could our life be immediately transformed if we consciously chose to clear away this bleak chorus of doubt and negativity to embrace more life-enhancing beliefs and stories about ourselves, our health, our future, what’s possible for us?
· What, too, if we cleared away unhelpful patterns of thought and language – those habitual ways of responding to our world that undermine the quality of our days – to make space instead for joyful, mindful presence in each moment?
· In the world of relationships, how much do we carry from one year to the next that keeps us stuck in the heartaches and difficulties of old hurts, old losses, old conflicts? What if we consciously chose to heal, release and transform those feelings from the past; to leave glorious open space of heart and mind for new, wholehearted engagement in our lives today?
The good news is that all these things are possible. And, just as the house clearing might first begin with one small drawer, the clearing of body, mind and soul might have small beginnings too. Perhaps with the clearing of one old, limiting belief about what’s possible for our future. Or by changing a single repetitive non-life-enhancing thought (that we might have been thinking, over and over and over again, with the same predictable result) to a thought that affirms what we actually want. Or by resolving to heal one hurt from our past that we don’t need to carry one more day.
It doesn’t really matter where we start. And there’s nothing sacred about the new year as a time to begin. Starting at all is the point.
Imagine how empowering it will be to transform the clutter from the past that blights our present and limits our future. And what expansive spaces of possibility we can create instead.