Clutter is anything that gets in the way of what matters most to you. It can certainly be material—unwanted trinkets and clothes that no longer fit—but clutter also can be spiritual, emotional, and psychological.
Maybe you’ve found yourself unable to meditate or pray because you can’t stop thinking about an insensitive remark your coworker made. Or you’ve filled hours of your life with worry and irritation about something you can’t control. Perhaps you’re still mad at a college roommate who has owed you rent money for decades, or the memory of an embarrassing moment in your past sometimes creeps into your thoughts and leaves you cringing and mortified for hours.
These aggravations and other negative thoughts about people and situations can get in the way of an intentional life focused on the things you actually value. Regrets, anger, frustrations, anxieties, envy, and other nonproductive emotions may be depleting your limited energy. And, unfortunately, mental clutter doesn’t magically disappear; the only way to alleviate mental clutter is to deal with it.
Shining a light into the inner chambers of our hearts.
I often say that yoga makes you better at absolutely everything, except remembering where you put your car keys.
A regular yoga practice boosts your immune system, regulates your hormones, makes you more creative, more honest, more compassionate, more sensitive, kinder, gentler, and altogether much more of a superhero. Car keys just don’t feel as important after Savasana.
Sometimes it's just fine to be a selfish jerk.
A landmark study by the University of Michigan has identified a likely reason why feeling emotionally close to a friend works wonders on a woman’s mood — and even boosts her health. Friendships, they say, increase the women’s hormone progesterone, which enhances a sense of well-being while reducing anxiety and stress.
A couple of centuries ago, nostalgia — the wistful, sentimental yearning for a person close to us, for a significant life event, or for a place important to us — was dubbed a medical disease. In the twentieth century, medical experts listed nostalgia as a psychiatric disorder. Today, spiritual teachers and life coaches cajole us to live in the moment, right now. But guess what? When psychologists induced feelings of nostalgia in a group of volunteers, the volunteers emerged from the exercise with higher self-esteem and an increased sense of being loved and protected by others.
In a research project at the University of London, volunteers were asked to listen to 15-second snippets of music before judging the emotional content of faces. The results were remarkable — happy music caused the volunteers to judge the faces as happier, while sad music caused the volunteers to judge them as sadder. Interestingly, the emotionally charged music had the greatest effect when the faces were, in fact, emotionally neutral.
When I was in graduate school, I was fascinated by a play by Eugene Ionesco called The -Lesson. In it a young woman studies for the total doctorate, but she has a problem. She can add perfectly but can’t subtract. The teacher gets so upset by her failure to learn that eventually, he attacks her with a knife.
What should we do when we’re upset or depressed? Should we analyze our feelings to figure out what’s wrong, or should we just forget about them and move on? Opinions differ, but new research suggests a solution to these questions: taking a more Buddhist or Taoist approach, rather than a Western model of psychotherapy.