The end of another year is upon us. My children and I have begun our annual clean-up. To them, this means giving away toys and books. To me, it’s a time of parting with everything—from clothing to books to kitchen stuff I haven’t used in years. This year, I’ve already packed a few balikbayan boxes worth with more to go. This exercise can be a gentle review of the year that has passed or, if you’ve accumulated decades worth of possessions, a sometimes painful revisiting of your life.
In the children’s school, we have regular garage sales to encourage families to live according to the value of “sapat” (having just enough). We deliver our things to school and the organizers price the items so that even the household help in the villages can afford them. This way, we raise some funds for the school as well. There are things I donate to this initiative and others I send to different charities. Toys, children’s clothing and books, I always send to Bantay Bata. There is such a great divide in our country between people who have too much and those who have barely enough. We must somehow carry the intention of living towards achieving a balance.
I remind my children that gifts are coming their way this season and we need to prepare so that the new can come in. This early, they know that we don’t senselessly accumulate things. We have to create the physical space for the new not just to enter, but also to land neatly and comfortably in our home. They learn early to live without clutter, which also negatively affects our health and the energy around us. I’m also hoping this instills in them a healthy relationship with material objectso that greed, hoarding and fear do not become irreparable habits.
I had my home space cleared by a very gifted woman recently. Space clearing is a special ritual of freeing your house of embedded energies. When something unpleasant happens in a home, this energy is somehow imprinted in a space and we live with them all the time. The same is true for positive and happy things, of course. These energies affect our lives in very unconscious ways. She gave me a lot of useful tips about living in a way that supports clear energy. Much of it had to do with clearing your space of things you don’t use or need—this can be clothing, books, photographs and knickknacks– medicine even. She said that having too many medicines around all the time illustrates a kind of lack of trust that one will get better. Books and videos must also be cleared out. How many times do we re-read novels anyway? I always donate mine to libraries at the end of the year. The basic rule is to get rid of the extras and keep only what you really need.
Of course some people think they need all that clutter or are threatened by the prospect of letting them go, but I sense that this means there are deeper issues that must be addressed. It has to do with facing fear and uncertainty about the future. In the meantime, the clutter causes health problems and even blocks the flow of prosperity and positive energy. I always feel physically lighter after clearing my house of things I don’t need. Just knowing I have Christmas decorations in storage that no longer hold meaning for me feels heavy. I can’t wait to give them away and have every space of my home reflect the truth of who I am today.
As I get ready to write my weekly column, I find myself clearing my workspace, which often accumulates clutter during the week with children’s drawings, toys, receipts, and things I used hurriedly and did not put away. I open windows and let the light in. I’ll light a naturally scented candle or diffuse some favorite essential oils to get the room smelling special. My sister reminded me that this was a way of clearing my mind as well, to prepare for the creative and intellectual work about to take place.
These are the ways in which our outer world affects our inner spaces and it is a very powerful practice in living consciously. You can also tell a lot about a person’s inner world from their living space, so it is a matter of doing inner and outer work, and letting both spaces authentically reflect who you are and what you aspire your life to be.
Living like this instills very important values in our children. You don’t have to lecture them about it, but the year-end rhythm of letting go and letting come is a spiritual practice that goes very deeply into the heart of Advent and Christmastime. It shows, in a practical way, how during the darkest time of the year, we need to let go of that which in us has already hardened and consciously create the space that allows His light to enter.
It is a relatively no-fuss practice that inspires simplicity and authenticity in your life. It creates a world less burdened with materialism and untruth. It teaches children to live without greed or fear. It ensures that the Garcis and the GMAs of the world are met with clear souls that grow stronger and more upright through the years; men and women who know where and how they stand in relation to the material world.
As this special season begins, let us make an effort to rid our corners of darkness and allow the significance of the time blossom fully. Let us create the space of Light within that we may shine it back into the world at last.