by Dr. Tina Marcantelwoman with clothes

It’s spring cleaning time, and for me that means tackling my out-of-control closet.

I’m taking a feng shui course right now, and as part of the practice of this ancient Chinese art I’ve been working on uncluttering my home and particularly my clothes closet. I’ve actually been surprised at some of the spiritual connections I’ve been making as I go through the process of releasing objects that I’ve had for years—I’m not only cleaning out my physical space, I’m cleaning out my mental closet, as well! Let me explain…

The practice of feng shui is partially based on the idea that our homes are a mirror of ourselves. The goal is to harmonize your home’s energy with your own so you can allow a flow of energy (qi) that aligns with who you are and where you want to go in life. This can be accomplished in many ways, but for now I want to concentrate on the idea of getting rid of clutter.

Clutter is defined as that which you no longer need or no longer love. In the home this could take the form of too much furniture, too many books or knick-knacks, or overstuffed closets. In feng shui, this is considered “stuck energy” in your home. It’s also a reflection of being stuck in old thought patterns that are not for your highest good. A lot of clients come to me who talk about having constant mind chatter. Often our minds are cluttered with a never-ending stream of images that do not serve us well. Dwelling on critical and self-judgmental thoughts can rob us of peace, rest, and the ability to experience our fullest potential.

Cleaning your closet is a great practical tool to begin the process of clearing out those negative thoughts. As we clear our physical space and allow energy to flow, we also are making space in our minds for new, life-affirming thoughts. Where there is more space, there is more peace.

Often we keep clutter around us—things we no longer use and maybe even don’t like—in order to make us feel protected. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with feeling safe, but what if those things are a way of burying thoughts or emotions that we should allow to surface and deal with? To illustrate this, let me give you a personal example.

There are several pieces of clothing in my closet that belonged to my mother, who passed away in 2002. The other day as I was going through my things I tried them on. They really aren’t my style, they don’t fit me well, and I never will wear them. So I asked myself, “Why am I hanging on to my mother’s clothes?”

The answer, of course, is that I want to remember her. As I considered this more deeply, though, I realized that I don’t need these particular objects to remember Mom. She still lives in my heart; often when I am in a place of stillness and prayer memories of our times together come flooding in. So again I asked myself, “Why?”

This time, my answer was more revealing. I realized that I was afraid that as time passed my memories of my mother would fade and that I would somehow lose touch with her. I also recognized that it is a baseless fear that’s a negative emotion I don’t want to associate with my relationship with her. By allowing these thoughts to rise to the surface, I was able to make the conscious decision to release both the pieces of clothing and the fear of forgetting—making space in both my physical and mental closets. At the same time, I feel I am honoring Mom by sharing her clothes with someone who will truly appreciate and use them. It’s a win/win—energy flows out of my space and into the world where it can benefit someone else.

Here’s a tip that can make the process of cleaning out the closet more fun for you: Be kind and compassionate with yourself as you thin out your clothes! A lot of things can come up as you go through a closet that hasn’t been cleared in a while. You may find yourself saying,

“Why did I buy this? It’s not even my style!”

“How did I let my closet get so out of control?”

“I’ll never be able to fit into that again!”

As we have these thoughts we can start to harshly judge ourselves. Allow yourself compassion and self-acceptance as you go through your old wardrobe. Release the past and embrace and love yourself for who you are now. It really can be a wonderful spiritual process as well as a practical tool for creating space in your home.

There are many great places to donate your clothes. One charity I have given many of my old business suits to is a place called Dress for Success, that helps underprivileged women with clothes to go on interviews or professional clothes for work. It’s also fun sharing with friends and family members who will give new life to that blouse or dress that’s been tucked away in your closet for years!

As you release the clutter in your closet, you allow that stuck energy to flow out into the world. As it flows, it creates room for new energy in your home and in your life. New growth, both in the physical and the spiritual realms. The shedding of the old and anticipation of an exciting future. That’s what springtime is all about, isn’t it? Have fun!

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