“Organizing and spirituality?”, my clients query, “What does one have to do with the other?”

My response to this question is simple. Organizing brings order to the physical chaos and spiritual practice brings order to a chaotic mind or calm to our inner life. The ancient Chinese proverb, “A cluttered space equals a cluttered mind” rings true for many people. What we feel on the inside is reflected on the outside and vice versa. When we bring order to our lives, both inner and outer, there is a sense of calmness, peacefulness, and stability that naturally occurs. Even in our hurried, chaotic world we have a deep desire for order; we can find it through being organized and developing a spiritual practice.

What does it mean to be spiritual?

Many people associate spirituality with religion. Although there is a significant element of spirituality in religion, there are no religious elements (dogma, doctrine, structure) in spirituality. The new spirituality is about cultivating a way of life where we come to know ourselves on a deeper level; a level detached from the material. Some spiritual qualities include, but aren’t limited to: peace of mind, intuition or inner wisdom, gratitude and appreciation, stillness, being in service, being conscious or aware, clearing the mind of clutter (resentment, jealousy, guilt, or worry), guidance from a Higher Source, living with compassion and generosity, and experiencing the ordinary as extraordinary. When we incorporate these qualities into our lives and allow them to guide us, life becomes more enjoyable.

How does our view of organizing impact the process?

For most of us organizing our physical space is far from enjoyable. Often it’s a daunting task and feels like drudgery. Many people can’t create the vision of an organized space and allow being daunted to stop them. It’s truly overwhelming to be in the middle of stacks of paper, tons of old clothes, piles of books and magazines, unused gadgets, and old, dusty, discarded furniture. It feels like a set up for failure rather than an opening for success. Avoiding the inevitable creates more angst and frustration, though.

When the organizing project is completed the rewards are incredible. Can you recall the last time you cleaned out a closet or the garage or even a simple desk drawer? What did you feel, a sense of spaciousness, lightness, or maybe freedom? When we clear away the clutter, bring order to the disorganization and eliminate the heaviness of our accumulated and unwanted stuff, we naturally experience a shift in our physical energy. We can breathe again! In fact, many of my clients tell me that they become more creative and productive in an organized space.

How can we move beyond the struggle and reap the reward?

It might be helpful if we think about ourselves as having two sides. When we are overwhelmed we’re in “fear mode” and our thinking or our ego—negative, defeatist voice-- is in control and works against us. Our attempts to feel optimistic are squelched. The ego tells us that organizing the space is useless, not that important—right now, or futile because it will return to the same condition in a few weeks, anyway. So we naturally give up and convince ourselves that we’d rather be doing something else, something more fun. Or we plow through it with resentment and frustration.

Where the ego operates from a fear perspective, Spirit operates from a place of love. Spirit is always kind, compassionate, gentle, and serene. There is a wisdom that comes from Spirit that tells us all is well. When we connect with this inner wisdom anything is possible; we are literally limitless. Think about a time that you overcame a huge obstacle in your life. How did you do that? You shut the door on ego; you allowed yourself to be guided by Spirit.

How can we partner with Spirit and “marry” the inner and the outer—the being and the doing--aspects of ourselves to get the job done?

We know how to “do” so well, but we’re not as familiar with being. When we allow Spirit to guide us through our organizing projects, we view the project from a new perspective. We are conscious of the ego voice and its influence and make choices to shift away from that energy. Problems become challenges and difficult situations become opportunities to learn and grow. We understand and accept our humanness and find ways to stay connected to Spirit. This is spiritual wisdom, the “beingness” of organizing. The result is our organizing projects are accomplished with more ease.

How do we stay connected to Spirit?

It takes between twenty one and forty five days of engaging in a new behavior to change an old habit. Practice is the key and it takes discipline. Be patient with yourself as you’re going through this process. These are some practices you can use right now:

****Meditation—even a few minutes of stillness everyday goes a long way
****Set an intention prior to every project for how you want to be
****Be conscious of your ego thoughts by checking in with how your body feels
****Use prayer to center yourself
****Stay fully present to the moment
****Create a mantra, eg. “I can see peace instead of this”

Choosing to turn organizing into a spiritual practice is a true gift to us. When we bring order to our lives we gain clarity and spaciousness. We give ourselves the gift of time and energy to do the things we really love to do. Our stuff is no longer in charge, we are. Be peaceful, be joyous, be wise; it’s our true essence, after all.

Author's Bio: 

Maggie McCauley, ACC, LICSW is an Organizer Coach—Certified Life Coach & Professional Organizer. Her coaching, organizing and speaking business is A New View. She has a background in clinical social work and has been working with adults promoting balanced, vibrant and healthy lives for over 16 years. She is a member of the International Coach Federation, the National Association of Professional Organizers, and Toastmasters’ International. You can reach her for comment at www.anewviewforyou.com.