I’m a small-town California girl turned mental health therapist. Favorite things: babies (but don’t have my own!), comfy pants, and taking too many pictures. I'm all about realistic self-care, mental health for everyone, and personal growth even if you hate that phrase (cause I do!).
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Since her show, Tidying Up, slid into our Netflix stream back in January, Marie Kondo’s organizing and tidying methods have been inspiring seemingly EVERYONE. Practically every other instagram story I see is someone sorting, folding, thanking, etc. I love it! So many of us are learning from Marie Kondo. There’s something magical about seeing a before and after transformation of a space, especially with how calming a well organized and tidy room can be.
Back when her book became popular about 8(?) years ago, I avoided it as another fad (little rebel, me *eye roll*)… which is strange because I’ve actually always loved organizing and rearranging furniture and throwing things away.
In high school I’d get a wild hair and decide, at 8pm!, to rearrange my room entirely, staying up way later than I should have pushing furniture around. My dad is a self-described mild “collector,” so I’ve pushed against doing this myself and try to routinely evaluate my belongings. Not to mention, moving has a way of encouraging you to pare down, and I’ve moved a fair share of times as an adult.
But about a year ago I stumbled across Kondo’s book at the public library and checked it out, along with the guide. I devoured the thing!
I’ll be honest, I’ve adapted some of the techniques to my own liking––mostly I try to not get caught up in my folding method. I use her basic principal, but for instance I have my underwear in two small boxes in my drawer because who wants to fold those every time? Not me!
But most of the themes have stuck with me, and seeing her work in “real life” brings it to another level. There’s more to learn from Marie Kondo than just organizing tricks, but we can also learn some profound life lessons.
It may seem “silly” when Marie “wakes up” the books, introduces herself to the home, or says thank you to no-longer-needed belongings. But there’s actually something really profound happening there.
In western culture, we are the inheritants of a dualistic way of viewing the world, meaning seeing the “spiritual” as separate and disconnected from the “material” (thanks, Descarte). Not only that, but the “spiritual” realm (which can also be understood as intellectual, etc) is seen as more important and “pure” than the material, which is considered disposable, impure (think puritanism), and corrupt.
However, in Eastern thought, the two––the physical and spiritual––are seen as interwoven, inseparably connected. Even further, every material object is seen to have it’s own spirit (ie even the books).
I don’t want to try to describe it further, but Marie’s seemingly “strange” practices are actually an important reminder that we are embodied beings, which places the physical and spiritual on the same playing field.
Think about it, when Marie is asked what sparking joy means, she says it’s a feeling like, “ding!” and shows a big smile, her whole body alert and attentive. That’s an embodied understanding of emotion. Rather than asking, is this item useful to me? and evaluating it from a merely intellectual and utilitarian perspective, she invites us to see how we respond to the item with our whole being, emotion and bodily sensations included.
This skill, noticing our “spark of joy,” is similar to the skill of paying attention to our emotions and physiological needs, important for self-soothing and emotion regulation. Seeing ourselves as embodied beings is an important part of our self-care and growth, and Kondo’s practices teach us ways to lean into our embodiedness.
When you listen to the guests talk about their homes, they often feel like the house controls them. They feel overrun by their belongings, that their stuff has taken over, and they are overwhelmed at the thought of changing it.
But the Kondo method is all about making a choice about each and every single item in your home, putting yourself back in control of your belongings, and ultimately how your home feels for you (of course this is limited by our financial ability to purchase decor).
This is a powerful mindset to have in the rest of our lives too. We get to choose, to an extent, what we surround ourselves with. What we let into our space. What we allow inside. I don’t mean buying furniture or a bigger house, but rather with the boundaries we use and the relationships we nurture (or not).
Not only is the result of this kind of deliberateness important, but the process and practice of being deliberate is important as well.
Another signature of Kondo’s method: saying goodbye and thanking the items you are parting with. This is such a beautiful picture of an aspect of grief––the gratitude we feel for the person we lost and all they gave us.
Thanking items and saying goodbye is also helpful for establishing a sense of closure, allowing us to appreciate what we have more fully and move forward more lightly (without the burden of what we don’t need).
This process is a useful way of thinking of emotions, relationships, old beliefs and expectations, etc: non-judgmentally notice (Marie is never judgmental!), decide if it serves you or not (from an compassionate, curious, and embodied perspective), thank for what it/they gave you, and let it go.
What else has struck you about Tidying Up? Any other lessons you’ve gleaned from Marie Kondo’s method? Have you applied her principles to your home? Leave a note in the comments!
by Kylie |
February 3, 2019
© Tend and Mend, Kylie Bennett 2019.
I'm Kylie. I’m a small-town California girl turned mental health therapist. Favorite things: babies (but don’t have my own!), comfy pants, and taking too many pictures. I'm all about realistic self-care, mental health for everyone, and personal growth even if you hate that phrase (cause I do!).