Not just about the clutter: how the Konmari Method transforms lives

My son came home from school having seen 'Tidying Up with Marie Kondo' in his 4th grade classroom during a rainy day lunch. He was eager to share the show with us, so we settled in and watched the first episode.

Now, I am a certified Feng Shui consultant, a sucker for a good decluttering, but I've never been able to inspire my own family to go through their belongings and let a little go. After watching a second episode the next day, my oldest was hooked. As we turned off the tv to move towards bedtime, he earnestly asked if he could go get his clothes. Not at 7:30pm, no. Tomorrow.

And that's how I woke to find my little guru, who normally struggles to untangle himself from his nest of blankets each morning, standing over my bed at 6am on a Sunday morning.

"Are you ready mom?" Wh-what? "I'm going to pull my clothes out now." Okay. When something you've been waiting years for finally comes, you can hope the inspiration lasts past 7am, or you can get out of bed and muster some excitement for the clearing process. Carpe diem. I got up and we "konmari-ed" our hearts out.

By the end of the day, all of us had gone through our clothing. We'd run the gamut of emotions and released multiple bags. We were running high on the joy we'd found. But why exactly does this process work?

How the konmari method transforms lives

If you've watched the show you've seen the inspiring before and afters. But why do people feel so good clearing out? Here's my take on it:

Marie Kondo's method is a mindfulness practice.

Her process gives you permission to quiet the chattering monkey mind that tells you to keep everything just in case, because it's useful, because you paid for it, because it was a gift, because, because, because. So many stories up in there. Shhhhhhhhh.

Get past the chattering mind and listen carefully. Take an object into your hands. Knock on the door to your own heart and ask, anybody home? Any joy in there? If yes, give it a home. If no, gather up your gratitude and release it to bring joy to others. Put that item down and start again. Some people are doing this practice for an hour or two a day. Others are weekend warriors and practice like this from sun up to sun down.

Practitioners spend their time tuning in to joy and calling up gratitude. Over and over, item by item.

Imagine what might happen if you focused on joy and gratitude for hours a day for a month, maybe two.

That neural pathway in the brain would become like a superhighway.

It happens in every episode of Marie Kondo's show. People are happier. Relationships improve. Practitioners feel more inspired and more creative. They feel more content.

Folding becomes mindful, washing dishes becomes mindful, and it all gives a focus for the mind to call up more gratitude and joy. The secret is this can be achieved in many ways, as there are opportunities for mindfulness everywhere. So if Marie Kondo's method doesn't speak to you, know that you can reap the benefits with another practice. There is always more than one way in.

Consider developing a mindfulness practice separate from the care of your belongings:

  • Practice meditation, Loving-Kindness can be especially useful

  • Focus on the breath

  • Notice sensation while eating, bathing, exercising, resting, or waking

  • Keep a gratitude journal

If Marie Kondo's practice calls to you, as it does my son, find joy in the process and enjoy the added benefits of mindfulness. Clearing clutter is powerful medicine for the home, but calling up joy and gratitude magnifies the benefits.

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