I am reading a wonderful book with the not-so-enticing title: How Yoga Works. It is chock full of ancient wisdom from the Yoga Sutras wound around a story about a chance encounter and ensuing relationships. Though there are many lessons to chew on, today I am captured by the simple wisdom of cleaning up and clearing out the spaces we inhabit.
This means cleaning up our physical environments – where we work, live, play – and getting rid of or donating what is no longer needed. Being in clean, organized spaces makes us feel clear-headed. How Yoga Works suggests that our brains subconsciously record everything around us and that is why a cluttered space affects our thinking. It is true that our brains record much of our environment, albeit unconsciously. For instance, how often have you driven to a particular place, completely preoccupied, and not remembered a single thing about the trip? If we assume that the book is correct, and knowing that so much of our suffering comes from our thoughts, why not simplify our physical environments to be more clear-headed?
Equally important is the inside job – cleaning out the clutter in our minds. A clear mind often inspires creative and supportive thinking. But this takes ongoing practice. The first step is being aware of what is going on in the background, then letting it go, and finally focusing on something positive, neutral (like the breath) or the present moment (mindfulness).
Our thoughts are like seeds planted moment-by-moment. They create the foundation for our future and need as much nurturing as our loved ones. Healthy seed thoughts can be reared through a formal daily meditation practice or mindful living. As we contemplate our wishes for the year ahead, perhaps the best preparation to weather nature’s storms and appreciate her dynamic sunsets, is to nurture healthy seed thoughts into strong, supportive, deep-rooted, flexible and wise trees.
Happy New Year!