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Lions Roar : September 2016
WHEN I LEARNED that “tidying” is currently the subject of several bestsell- ing books, I remembered with pleasure that one of the definitions the Venerable Mahathera offers for mindfulness is that it functions as a tidier of the mind. The contemporary books about tidy- ing deal primarily with disencumbering closets and shelves of things one no longer needs. I also think of my mind as a repository of nonessentials, such as timeworn grudges, outlived attach- ments, and out-of-date opinions that continue to bias my understanding without my knowing it. De-cluttering closets and minds are both spiritual practices that succeed when the attach- ments that create confusion are made conscious. I keep a magnet reminder on my refrigerator door that says, “The sweater in your closet that you have not worn in a year is not yours. It belongs to a home- less person waiting for you to return it to them.” So each time I decide, “I don’t need this. I can give it away,” I am practicing nonattachment. I rediscover the joy of not needing. How many of anything do I actually need? How many pairs of socks do I really need, given that I do laundry once a week? Do I really need the sweatshirt with the cute logo on it, just because my adolescent child gave it to me as a Valentine’s Day gift forty years ago? Do I need the contents of numerous plastic bags of half-knitted sweaters that I might someday finish? Wouldn’t they better serve as gifts, with extra yarn and needles, to the knitting group at the seniors’ residence nearby? I once had a reel-to-reel tape of a HEART & MIND Finding Clarity in Clutter SYLVIA BOORSTEIN on how cleaning out your closet can free up space in your mind. SYLVIA BOORSTEIN is a psychologist and teacher of Insight Meditation. Her most recent book is Happiness Is an Inside Job. TARAHARDY LION’S ROAR | SEPTEMBER 2016 23 CULTURE • LIFE • PRACTICE