By Marguerite Jill Dye
Perched on the deck this shimmering hour, hummingbirds hum and songbirds sing. Pico and Killington peek through the trees as sunlight illuminates chartreuse spring leaves.
The peace on the deck contrasts sharply with the chaos I’ve created inside. A decluttering tornado has just passed through. Plastic bins’ contents of keepsakes and lace, seasonal clothing, fabrics, and linens lay piled atop every flat surface, awaiting decisions as to their fate. Letting go of family treasures (some are precious, others are “junque”), isn’t as easy as some might think.
I’ve always felt guilty letting things go. I hear Mom’s voice with each object’s tale, although I can’t recall the exact words. Did Nana or Granny crochet this shawl? Who wore this delicate christening gown? How many dinners would it take to employ each one of these hand-embroidered napkins? (They’ll always have wrinkles because I don’t iron.) We have tablecloths coming out the yazoo, ample bedding and towels for the U.S. Army Corps.
We’ve definitely got more stuff than space! And have I mentioned the boxes of papers that are awaiting me downstairs? Each time we moved, I stuffed papers in bags, then stashed bags in boxes and bins galore. Not only my boxes of papers await me, but also Mom’s boxes of poems and notes.
Clutter is an indication of other things going on. It protects us from the world like a buffer zone or extra weight. We may build clutter walls to distract from reality and keep our minds focused on our immediate surroundings. Sometimes clutter feels more like a prison. Some objects hold sorrow and grief – only distance and time help us deal with them.
In Feng Shui, tackling clutter has powerful effects. It clears stagnation in our energy fields, benefits health, and makes space for new ventures. “Old ways won’t open new doors,” it is said, and according to the Tao of Dana, disorganization has many forms. Piles of papers (my specialty), stuffed drawers and closets, feeling overwhelmed, lacking money or time are all ways that clutter can impact our lives.
Another frequent symptom of disorganization is lacking a purpose or plan. Knowing where we’re going helps us stay on course. Envisioning how I’d like to live the next two decades of my life, I ask myself, “Does this fit my plan?” Designer William Morris suggested asking, “Is this object really beautiful?” and “Do I truly love it?” If not, perhaps someone else can enjoy and benefit from it. So I’m assembling lovely things for family and friends, based on their interests and tastes. Little by little, I’m beginning to fill boxes to donate, keep, or sell.
I’ve attempted a major decluttering for years and made little dents in the past, but I credit my current progress to the “Tapping Solution.” It’s helped alleviate my guilt and change my attitude. It’s unblocked the dam that was holding me back. One year ago, I tried tapping when I found myself overcome by anxiety about traffic and accidents while riding in the car. It definitely helped me until recently, when I simply repeated the easy process.
People use EFT, the Emotional Freedom Technique or Tapping Solution, to reduce chronic or short-term stress, tense muscles and joint pain; decrease headaches and fatigue, boosting energy levels; cope with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem; and improve sleep quality, also concentration, coordination, and athletic performance.
The mind-body method of TFT, Thought Field Therapy, was first developed by clinical psychologist Dr. Roger Callahan in the 1980s. He discovered it helped people self-manage symptoms of anxiety, phobias, and stress-related problems. His students refined it into EFT in the mid 1990s. Neuroscientists have tested and proven its effectiveness in releasing disturbances in energy pathways and eliminating negative emotions. It’s now used to treat PTSD, depression, anxiety, addictions and other unwanted behavior, fears, and phobias. You’d never imagine something so simple could be so effective.
Five basic EFT tapping steps are:
One, name one specific problem or emotion in a short reminder phrase, i.e. “I feel afraid when riding in the car.”
Two, before beginning, note the intensity of the negative emotion or thought on a scale of 0 to 10. It should decrease with each tapping repetition.
Three, create a phrase that includes the emotion and problem with a powerful affirmation, i.e., “Although I feel afraid while riding in the car, I deeply and completely love and accept myself.” Repeat your personal phrase as you tap four fingers several times on the edge of your palm, alternating with tapping just above the wrist.
Four, perform the tapping sequence with two or four fingers, using firm, gentle pressure over eight key meridian points. Continue to focus and repeat the affirmation as you tap four times at the following acupressure points: on the top of the head, above the eyebrows’ start, outer edge of the eye socket, cheekbone indentation below the eye’s pupil, indentation between nose and upper lip, just below the bottom lip, indentation above the center of the collar bone, and a few inches under the arm.
Five, check in to re-evaluate your problem on a scale of 0 to 10, then repeat the process until you no longer feel stuck. You can change your affirmation as needed.
Many people have experienced relief from this simple technique. It’s certainly worth a try. I didn’t realize it can help with muscle pain and sleep, so I’ll see if it can help my husband’s back pain and send me into more sound, restful, and uninterrupted sleep.
It will be exciting to see just how far this spring’s decluttering will go. I have the will and, at last, found a way. I hope to let go of old ways to open new doors. Care to join me on this springtime journey?
Marguerite Jill Dye is an artist and writer who divides her time between the Gulf Coast of Florida and the Green Mountains of Vermont.