In a world where there are more distractions and choices than ever before, we need a higher level of inner calm and a mind that is clear and sharp—two qualities that may seem hard to come by. Consummate consuming, especially electronic communications—computers, iPhones, Blackberries, iPads, e-mails, text messages, tweets, endless postings and the next new thing—distract us 24/7. Television and the Internet give us a window into a tandem world of persuasive information and unfettered violence that can weigh heavily on our minds and spirit.

Our brains are not wired to take all this in.

So where do you start to rid yourself of the clutter in your mind and to get your inner life in some semblance of a new order? Well, it has to start with you and where you live, right in your own skin and in your own home. You can’t function at your full potential when you are inundated with your own homegrown clutter. You run the risk of reversing personal progress and you can’t attract anything new if your spaces at home and the office are filled with irrelevant clutter. Clutter crowds out the positive, and it must go. You must make room for the new, for refreshment.

Clearing the clutter in outward areas is really a form of emotional cleansing.

Clutter is a funny thing. It has a life of its own, and it seriously zaps your energy. It is demanding and persistent, like a weed. It could be the clothes you have not looked at in years, but they still crowd your closet; books stored in the basement taking up precious space; equipment that has not worked for ages; poor lighting that has never been fixed; computer files that need to be organized, trashed or upgraded. The list goes on and on. Once you are aware of the fact that clutter in your physical environment creates a cluttered mind, it’s time to get started. Put your body and mind to work. You can start small, even if it’s just a drawer every day, but it’s important for you to start. I started with a room every month. Expect the cleanup to be hard—but know it is also a critical and courageous act of life change. 

You may fool yourself

Beware. You may be temporarily motivated to change, especially when you are away at a seminar or conference or vacation (in an uncluttered space) and you return home (to a cluttered space). You think you are ready to start anew, but nothing has changed at your old setting, and you can slip back into old patterns and dilute the progress you have made. Believe me, if nothing changes at home, you will continue to come back to your own messes, and they will affect you in a negative way. They can take you down. I know, because I struggled with keeping breathing space, which I continually stress in my Power of One discovery program.

You are creating breathing room in your day-to-day life.Once there is space, another factor comes into play. What do I want my space to feel like? What is in my space? How is it positioned? Do I like it? This is why the feng shui movement has taken off in the Western world. In the West, we understand the need for space, but we don’t know how to preserve it. Generally, we try to fill it up with things—like filling silence with words, verbal clutter. But you can destroy the tranquility you seek if you do not take care of your space.

Literally translated, “feng shui” means wind and water, two elements that are always in flux. One of its theories is that energy is all around us and that building (or arranging) things in a space can affect how the energy flows. Following feng shui principles means an increase in positive energy, leading to an increase in well-being. From my own experience, simple recommendations from a feng shui practitioner can alter the whole disposition of a room and its occupants. When rooms breathe better, people breathe better. 

Your place becomes a living space.

There is no question that we humans love stuff. So we must deal with this openly and honestly. Periodic cleaning is like a good tune-up to maintain sound mental health. As you move and position things, you learn to honor your space. You also begin to understand that discrimination needs to precede any new purchase. The rewards are manifold. The feeling of plentiful interior space is inviting. I am as welcomed by my own home as I am by my wonderful pets. The great bonus is that there is also ample room to welcome friends to enjoy this space with me.