A Daily Guide to Simplifying, Decluttering, and Letting Go
With all our best intentions and rich resources, why is it so hard to slow down, simplify, and care for ourselves? Why are we so afraid to let go?
In A Year to Clear, leading space-clearing expert Stephanie Bennett Vogt takes you on a journey of self-discovery, letting go, and transformation. Each of the 365 lessons--organized into 52 weeklong themes--offers daily inspiration designed to release stress and stuff in ways that lighten, enlighten, and last.
This is YOUR YEAR to . . .
- Free yourself of unwanted things in your home and mind by bringing awareness to messy habits and the outdated beliefs behind them.
- Transform those mindless housekeeping tasks you do every day (on auto-pilot) into nurturing, soul-filled experiences.
- Realize at the deepest level the essence of who you are and what you came here to be.
Stephanie's methods of gentle encouragement and humor will guide you to look at the items and clutter in your home not simply as a "mess" to be dealt with, but as an outward reflection of your inner presence. By using her clearing exercises to clean up on the outside and the inside, both your physical and emotional realms will return to a sparkling state of balance and serenity.
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 6.70(h) x 1.10(d)|
About the Author
Stephanie Bennett Vogt is a leading space clearing expert, international speaker, and the author of Your Spacious Self. She brings over 35 years of experience to SpaceClear, the teaching practice she founded in 1996 to help homes and their occupants come into balance. Stephanie teaches her inspirational clearing programs worldwide, including at Kripalu and the New England School of Feng Shui, and shares her unique perspectives on simplifying, personal reinvention, and letting go in the Huffington Post, DailyOM, and other venues. To learn more, visit www.spaceclear.com.
Read an Excerpt
A Year to Clear
By STEPHANIE BENNETT VOGT
Hierophant PublishingCopyright © 2015 Stephanie Bennett Vogt
All rights reserved.
The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.
— Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
It seems we spend half our lives winding ourselves up, like mechanical toys, and the other half unwinding, or trying to unwind. If we've learned to live well, our unwinding will be even and steady. We'll have energy to spare right up to the very end.
If we've wound ourselves up too tightly or too fast over the years, however, we'll either find ourselves stuck in a logjam that keeps us spinning in circles, or we'll unwind so fast that we'll careen off the table, hit the wall, and keel over.
This book will show you how to unwind the slow and steady way. But it also teaches this little mind bender: You are not the wind-up toy.
Curious about what this might mean? Start by closing your eyes for a few moments, taking a deep breath, and tuning in to your wound-up self. Notice what it feels like to be coiled into a tight ball. Allow whatever is stirring to arise. It could be a word, an image, an emotion, or an experience you had recently.
After a minute is up, breathe out all thought and tension and imagine yourself being infused with spacious goodness, awareness, and possibility. Take this expanded feeling with you into the rest of your day.
When you have a moment, consider this question: If I am not a wind-up toy, who am I?
Deepen your experience of this lesson by completing the phrases that follow. They are deceptively simple, designed to bypass the thinking mind and release buried insights (and unprocessed clutter). Don't think too hard or force an answer. Allow your highest wisdom to reveal itself in these responses, and all subsequent explorations from here on:
Being coiled into a tight ball feels ...
It is easy for me to experience spacious goodness ... (If it applies, notice the part of you that is unconvinced or confused by this concept, and just be with that.)
Who I think I am is ...
WHAT IS YOUR THING?
Behind the coiled-up mess that is our stress and our clutter there is an infinitely spacious place one might call stillness, or joy. This is our natural state of being, but we hardly notice it because most of us are caught in a tangle of worry, fear, negative beliefs, material attachments, and endless, mechanical "doing."
So what is your thing? In what ways do you resist the whole being that you are?
Spend today reflecting on these questions, without forcing an answer, and see what pops up. And if you're rolling your eyes right about now, resisting or squirming over how cliché this all sounds, simply allow and notice that impulse.
One of the key principles you'll be hearing a lot (and exploring) throughout this book is that of observing and allowing events to unfold without doing, changing, or fixing the outcome.
My thing is ...
One of the ways I resist being true to myself is ...
YOUR SPACIOUS SELF
Behind all the clutter and the padding is a you that is spacious and whole, grounded and present. This self can be innocent and curious like a child, deeply happy like a dog on a walk in the woods, giddy like an explorer who has found hidden treasure, or content and complete like a grandma sitting in her rocking chair recounting stories of her remarkable life. This self lives in awe and wonder. To this self, everything looks and feels new and fresh, sparkly and amazing ... and clear!
Actually, this self is not really all that new — just new to you! This new, bigger self has been with you all along, waiting patiently on the sidelines to come out and play. I'm sure you've experienced her or him in flashes from time to time. This is the self that laughs a lot, doesn't take everything so seriously, and has a lot more fun.
What are some traits of your new-to-you self that you'd like to cultivate? Is it your sense of humor? Compassion? Ambition? What are some ways that you can start integrating these traits into your everyday life in small, baby-step ways?
Some traits in my new-to-me self I'd like to cultivate are ...
One small way I can integrate these traits into my daily life is to ...
CLUTTER AND CLEARING IN A NUTSHELL
I wish there was a better word for it. Because of our culture's fixation on physical "stuff," clutter doesn't come close to describing the myriad ways it shows up in our lives, much less how it affects us and makes us feel.
I define clutter as anything that gets in the way of experiencing our true nature and best life. Visible and invisible, external and internal, clutter comes in many forms and has many faces. Here are the three most common ones:
Physical clutter — possessions we don't use, love, or need; things that have no home; things that don't get put away.
Mental clutter — thoughts and beliefs generated by a fearful or attached mind; noisy chatter.
Emotional clutter — unprocessed emotions, negative charge, or polarizing behaviors that grow out of the belief that we are separate.
At its essence, all clutter is a form of low-vibrational energy that sticks like a magnet to things, people, and spaces. It is this invisible side of clutter that creates imbalance in our lives and makes us feel stuck. Today, consider the many ways clutter can manifest, and how it's done so in your life.
Some ways that clutter shows up in my life include ...
This is how clutter stops me from accomplishing what I most desire ...
MAKE IT LAST
With all our best intentions and seemingly unlimited resources at our disposal — from container stores to feng shui cures, professional coaching to TV makeovers — why does clutter of every kind continue to grow at such an epidemic rate?
This is the million-dollar question I've been studying for the better part of two decades. Years of space clearing have taught me what is necessary to create enduring change. For clearing to last, you need to
Put yourself first. No amount of containers or cures is going to make a dent in reducing the stress and stuff until you've healed the patterns that created them. If you don't feel safe, you will not let go. Clearing is an inside job that begins and ends with you.
Change your mindset. Clearing is not something you "do," fix, or squeeze into your life. It's a way of life — a journey — that doesn't always add up, make sense, or go in a straight line.
Slow down. Clearing old habits and resisting behaviors is not possible until you slow ... it ... way ... down. Slow-drip efforts applied consistently over time are the real game changer here.
We'll be incorporating all three of these ideas into our practice, but for now focus on one or two to start.
Of the three things needed to make clearing last, these are speaking to me right now ...
I know for sure that ...
SHEDDING LAYERS BY SHINING LIGHT
You know the self? That overwhelmed, sometimes grumpy, fragmented self that has lost the ability to live fully and think big? The self that is fully padded with all kinds of protections (and stuff) to ward off the calamities which "are certain to come at any moment"? The self that feels like there is a simpler way, but can't seem to figure out where it is or how to cultivate it?
Yes, these are the layers that will be melting away this year.
Take a moment today to reflect on your experience over the past few days: What is beginning to bubble up as you contemplate a yearlong journey of clearing? Have you been made aware of any revealing dreams, shifts, synchronicities, or aha moments since you began?
Tomorrow you'll have a chance to check in with yourself more deeply. If you do not yet have a notebook or journal, now would be a good time to get one as you prepare yourself for this great adventure.
What is bubbling up for me as I contemplate a yearlong journey of clearing ...
These are the dreams, shifts, synchronicities, and aha moments I've had since starting this journey ...
CHECK IN — DEPARTING
The focus this week was to provide an overview of clearing and to anchor some intentions for the journey. As with any adventure, it helps to gather some provisions to gain the most out of our experience.
Take a few moments today to reflect on your goals for the year using the prompts that follow. Use your time, too, to release any apprehensions or worries, and reflect on what it would mean to feel more spacious in your home and life.
Some worries I have about taking a whole year for myself to clear what's holding me back include ...
After clearing what no longer serves and supports me I hope to feel ...
I hope to let go of ...
I hope to attract ...CHAPTER 2
CLEARING MADE EASY
The longest journey you will make in your life is from your head to your heart.
— an old Sioux saying
CONFESSIONS OF A PACK RAT
My name is Stephanie and I am a recovering (uncovering) pack rat.
Yes, squirreled away in the dark recesses of my house I still have boxes of things I haven't seen or used in over twenty years. I have food in the freezer that is over six months old. I have a cigar box full of those tiny keys you get when you buy a new suitcase — each pair neatly secured with a twist tie.
I hang on to more Bubble Wrap and cardboard boxes than I need "just in case." I have floppy disks containing God knows what dating back to the early nineties (without the computer technology to run them even if I wanted to). Stacked neatly in the corner of my desk drawer is a year's worth of price tags for clothes I've bought ... and washed ... and worn.
Most people who know me as the space clearing expert, a healer of homes, a teacher and devoted messenger of hope to the clutter-weary are surprised when I tell them I am not clutter-free.
Your home may be free of all excess, or be super organized and neat as a pin, but if you live in a body that thinks thousands of thoughts a day (not all of them positive), feels pain and loss and fear from time to time, gets out of balance, or loses itself in the worries of the moment, I hate to break it to you, but you're not clutter-free either.
The fact is, most humans suffer one way or another from a condition called "holding on." Me? I was born with squirrel tendencies based on a deep fear that there is not enough to go around. Softening the hard wiring of my past is my hero's journey that involves consciously clearing one suitcase key, postage stamp, and freezer-burned lump-that-passes-as-food at a time.
But this is good. Years in the trenches have taught me that we can soften our grip on attachment — slowly and gently — by first naming and feeling the object of our stress and distress. We can release the charge that these issues hold by taking them less personally. We can change our relationship with any thing by clearing it consistently — or just moving it from the floor to the drawer — with compassionate awareness.
Yes, clearing even a single paper clip or hairball has the potential to change our lives.
One thing or thought I know I'm holding on to right now is ...
Naming it here makes me feel ...
FOUR PATHWAYS OF CLEARING
It took me years to break the code, to identify what could make clearing not only radically simple and sustainable, but also a powerful force for change. I call it the Four Pathways of Clearing — the keys to the kingdom of living clear.
The basic idea is this: For clearing to work its magic in our homes and lives we need to integrate four key ingredients into a daily routine:
Though each pathway is worthy in its own right, the four working together creates a synergistic effect. Neglecting one would be like taking a leg off a table. The model loses its strength and stability and diminishes the return for effort. But when the four work as a team, even our tiniest one-minute efforts are significant and lasting.
Don't worry if you don't know what any of these mean. Today's message is just the overview. Over the next five days I will explain them in the context of daily living.
For all of you who are wired for speed and outcomes, you may have noticed that action only comprises one quarter of the work. This is where you'll be going off-road into a new way of being. Hang in there!
When I think of what my life might look and feel like without friction or resistance, I picture ...
The idea of going off-road into a new way of being makes me feel ...
INTENTION — CLARIFY YOUR DESIRE
You've probably heard the expression, "Be careful what you ask for, because you just might get it." The mind is a powerful generator. Intention is the pathway that helps us clarify what we most desire.
In clearing it isn't enough to engage the mind purposefully, however. There is a follow-up step that is required once we've put our intention out into the world, and that is to let go of attachment to the outcome. When we detach and allow divine intelligence to take care of the details, we create openings, and even better outcomes, we couldn't even imagine before.
What is it that you most desire for your home and life that you'd like to shine the spotlight on this year? Can you feel into your desire and then get out of the way? This is what it means to clear with intention.
My intention for this journey is ...
What I notice when I feel into my intentions and let go of attachment to the outcome is ...
ACTION — GO SLOW TO GO FAST
We definitely need action if we want to get anywhere. As Will Rogers once wrote, "Even if you are on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." If intention steers the clearing vehicle, action is what gives it gas.
Action at full throttle, however, would be like living with sun twenty-four hours a day without the balance of moon and nighttime to rest and recharge. It's too yang. When we live solely to do, fix, or make things happen, we miss a huge opportunity to cultivate the balancing effects of yin energy — receptivity, presence, intuition, surrender — qualities that are only available to us when we slow down.
Have you noticed that slowing down can actually deliver the goods faster? In what ways can you adopt a "less is more" approach to clearing?
When I slow down, it feels like ...
One thing I can do today to "actively not do" is ...
NON-IDENTIFICATION — BE THE OBSERVER
Can you witness a disturbance without taking it personally? Can you feel discomfort without feeding the story that created it? What can you do on the spot to unplug from a drama that is pushing your buttons? This is the work of dis-identifying.
Non-identification is the pathway of becoming the silent observer of our experience: to accept things as they are, take things less personally, witness without judgment. It takes patience and practice not to get plugged in.
Try it: If something or someone challenges your equanimity today (i.e., pisses you off, pushes your buttons), give the situation a number from 1 to 10, with 10 being the red zone of activation and attachment. See if naming and feeling the problem doesn't reduce the charge and lower the number.
Someone or something that has gotten under my skin lately is ... (and the number I would give it is ...)
One thing I can do to unplug from this situation is ... (and the number I would give it after naming and feeling my discomfort is ...)
COMPASSION — CULTIVATE SELF-CARE
Compassion, as it relates to clearing in this book, is not just that altruistic, openhearted Mother Teresa quality that we all wish we had more of. The focus here is not about embodying selflessness, but rather cultivating self-more-ness — as in more self-kindness, self-acceptance, self-worth. It means allowing yourself to disappoint and be disappointed; having it be okay to make mistakes and fail; setting clear boundaries.
Compassion means holding a space for yourself by practicing nourishing self-care. Only when we've fed ourselves fully can more be made available for others. Compassion is the feel-good principle of clearing. When we feel safe, supported, and good we are more likely to let go. Without self-care there is no clearing.
Are you being an advocate for yourself? What is something you can do for one minute today that would feel really good?
Some ways that I am my own best friend are ... (Notice the part of you that struggles with this.)
One thing I can do today that would feel really good is ...
Excerpted from A Year to Clear by STEPHANIE BENNETT VOGT. Copyright © 2015 Stephanie Bennett Vogt. Excerpted by permission of Hierophant Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Week 1: Departing,
Week 2: Clearing Made Easy,
Week 3: Gaining Awareness,
Week 4: Coming Out of the Closet,
Week 5: Moving Stuck Energy,
Week 6: Tuning Up the Senses,
Week 7: Embracing Emotional Weather,
Week 8: Slowing Down,
Week 9: Releasing Old Stories,
Week 10: Paring Down the Purse,
Week 11: Sensing Energy in Things and Spaces,
Week 12: Connecting with Home,
Week 13: Being Enough,
Week 14: Moving Things, Moving On,
Week 15: Inviting Calm,
Week 16: Turning Up the Light,
Week 17: Soul Calling,
Week 18: Letting Go, Letting Flow,
Week 19: Filters and Perceptions,
Week 20: Dissolving the Illusion of Separation,
Week 21: Taming the Monkey Mind,
Week 22: Cultivating Ease,
Week 23: Tending the Home,
Week 24: Easing Pain,
Week 25: Breaking the Chain of Pain,
Week 26: Taking Time to Pause,
Week 27: Releasing with Water,
Week 28: Letting In the Light,
Week 29: Being Bold, Being Vulnerable,
Week 30: Allowing Imperfection,
Week 31: Waiting It Out,
Week 32: Singing Praises,
Week 33: Cultivating Self-Care,
Week 34: Nourishing Self-Worth,
Week 35: Stepping into Stillness,
Week 36: Homing In on Joy,
Week 37: Feeling Good,
Week 38: Honoring the Past,
Week 39: Cultivating Deep Rest,
Week 40: Getting Good Sleep,
Week 41: Tuning In to Guidance,
Week 42: In-quiring,
Week 43: Embracing Not-Knowing,
Week 44: Supporting Real Ease,
Week 45: Marking Progress,
Week 46: Being with Loss,
Week 47: Forgiving,
Week 48: Spacious Revealing,
Week 49: Loving Up Our Spaces,
Week 50: Dreaming Big,
Week 51: Losing Ourselves, Finding Ourselves,
Week 52: Continuing,