Spring Cleaning for Our Mental Closets
Where do we store your material possessions? A cupboard/almari safe, a cabinet maybe or even a chest? Some of these have shelves and drawers and other may not, but the fact is, this is where our belongings go. Sometimes they’re neatly stacked, sometimes dumped, stuffed or basically just squeezed into all corners and crevices, filling up the space as best as possible.
More often than not, once most of this stuff goes in, it rarely comes out. Possibly because we rarely bring it out. We keep accumulating more and more “things” we seldom have a need for and tend to even forget they exist.
The Mental Closet
Our ‘mental closet’ is pretty much the same. It’s that place where we hoard our emotions, experiences, memories, thoughts, beliefs etc. And here too, once they go in, they sit there, gathering dust as it were. We store away these emotions and feelings in boxes and trunks and suitcases from our past and carry this emotional baggage all through our lives. This is especially true of disturbing feelings and memories.
Is it any wonder then that the present becomes sluggish and tiring because of the weight of that baggage while the future looks rather bleak?
Somehow, despite being aware of all the pain and grief these negative emotions bring us, we are still not willing to open up our mind’s closet and clean the contents of its shelves.
Nothing goes in without something coming out
Unfortunately, we can’t possibly add fresh, new, vibrant colours and experiences without first emptying the contents of our spilling-over pile of unhealthy junk. In order to have positives like love, joy, serenity, compassion, and hope that soothe and refresh us each time we delve into your emotional wardrobe, we will first need to empty out the piles of rubbish we have so diligently been storing.
Negative feelings like anger, guilt, shame, hopelessness, anxiety, hatred and others of their kin have been sitting on the shelves as part of our personal possessions. And this is what we cling to for life, So, we need to learn how to detach from them. However, to do that, we need to understand where they come from.
This may come as a surprise to some, but all of them are self-created as a part of our thinking process and belief system and try as we may, we can’t blame anyone else. That is the simple truth; one we need to admit and accept.
Getting rid of the negative junk
Since they are self-created, there are ways of destroying them as well –
For instance, Yoga teaches us to practice Aparigraha or non-accumulation of possessions – material and emotional, positive and negative and thus, achieve a state of Vairagya or detachment.
Practising Pranayama and meditating daily helps us begin a self-discovery process by helping to segregate ourselves from our thoughts and behaviours. As we begin to observe and distance ourselves from both, our emotions no longer have the same influence on us, thereby preventing unwanted actions.
Other ways include being mindful of our disturbing feelings and being aware of the automatic thoughts racing to distort our minds and mental make up at the time.
It also helps if we, once in a while, take “inventory” of all we’ve have hoarded to do some serious emotional and mental spring-cleaning. This can leave our mental closets uncluttered, clean and fresh so that our bodies can feel lighter and freer.