Space clearing expert Karen Kingston on clutter

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I heard Karen Kingston, author of Creating Sacred Space with Feng Shui, speak at a NAPO conference years ago. I was familiar with her work, but hadn’t read her book so I went and bought it after the conference.  

Although she’s not an organizer, her work ties in quite well with organizing. One of the skills she practices is space clearing, which means cleaning out stagnant energy and replacing it with new vital energy. This clearing can help get you “unstuck,” aid with healing and enhance your spiritual development, to name a few benefits.  

However, before you can perform space clearing, Karen advises that you clear out the clutter. “Clutter is stuck energy,” says she, and no amount of space clearing or bell ringing will get rid of it. Clutter is not only in your way physically, but mentally and emotionally as well.

It can make you tired and also prevent you from living in the present since it ties you to the past or prescribes a future that can seem oppressive (an example of this is holding on to clothing that fit years ago in hopes that it will again). 

To those who keep things because they may need them someday, she says that attitude tells the universe you don’t trust it will provide for you. So instead of providing comfort, all those “necessary” objects actually insure that you’ll feel uneasy about your future.

Although she doesn’t consider herself a neat person, Karen puts things away when they are not in use. I have also advised this to my clients because it gives them more room to work (on the desk, for example), it reinforces their memory for where things are so they don’t lose things as much, and it cuts down on the mental clutter induced by being in a space where too many things are competing for their visual attention. 

I know that people with ADD are often advised to keep things out and even move them regularly because they forget about them when they’re hidden, and stop seeing them if they’re in the same place for too long. This may work for some people, but then to compensate it would be a good idea to keep the decor clean and streamlined.  

Karen mentions another reason for putting things away. It “creates space for the next thing to happen.” What a wonderful idea! This again relates to the idea of being able to live in the present. In order to effectively use and manage your time, you need to prioritize tasks (imagine the future) and then give them the attention they need to get done in the here and now.  

You can help yourself a great deal by setting the stage for what needs to be done. This means having the tools and supplies handy when you need them.

But the next task is likely to need other tools and different supplies, mental ones as well as physical ones. By putting away the things associated with one task before starting the next you also allow yourself time and space to mentally adjust to a different task.  

Most clutter, boxes of photos, special collections, even quantities of books, have a way of keeping you from moving forward. Sometimes this can be appropriate.

When I first moved to the Bay Area I was very determined to make a home for myself. My family had moved around a lot when I was young and neither parent then lived in a place I could call home. So I found an apartment and furnished it and then stayed there for the next sixteen years! It was by far the longest time I’d lived anywhere and I relished it.  

About halfway through that time I realized that I was hanging onto a lot of things, and I knew I’d be devastated if I had to get rid of any of it. It was part of me and it grounded me. It created my nest.

There is no dramatic ending to this story, but over the years I have become less and less attached to my things and I now realize that my identity and security doesn’t derive from them. I enjoy my things but I use them to create a happy atmosphere rather than giving them power over me. (And, yes, I too collect stuff over time and have to set aside time to purge it.)

If this is your situation, you can try getting rid of some clutter and see how it feels. If it’s uncomfortable, it might be worthwhile for you to think about what it means that you are so attached to your things. The more light you can shed on your own situation, the closer you’ll be to understanding it and releasing that energy.

Some physical clutter directly stagnates energy by being in hallways, foyers and doorways where you have to step over or around it. Not only does it impede your passage around your home, it impedes energy movement.

Karen writes that clutter on the floor is more energy depressing than clutter up high. So, until you can get rid of the clutter, see if you can get it off the floor and out of doorways and hallways.

According to Karen, clutter can take the form of unresolved relationships, unreliable friends and undone tasks. This is what I call mental clutter. She recommends being clear in your communication to resolve issues with others and to stop associating with people who bring you down or make you feel powerless.  

Undone tasks clutter up your mind and your date book and to do list. If tasks stay on your list for months on end, try to figure out why you’re not doing them and reassess whether they are worth doing at all. If you decide they really have to be done, see if you can get someone else to do them for you (even if you have to pay them). 

Or try to get a friend to help you, even if just to keep you company while you do it. Or tell a friend you are going to do it by a certain time and ask them to check up on you. These are all tried and true tricks for getting that clutter off your to do list.

As the title suggests, Karen’s book shows you how to create sacred space in your home and office so you’ll have “happiness and abundance in every area of your life.” But the first step is dealing with clutter.  

The result of getting rid of clutter, Karen and I agree, is that you will “release huge amounts of energy for other purposes.” You have better things to do than providing warehouse space for material objects. Life is short! Don’t let clutter stop the energy flowing in your life.