Home Mindful Living How to clean your spiritual closet #mentalclutter

How to clean your spiritual closet #mentalclutter

by Vidya Sury May 30, 2016 22 comments
Clean up your act. Clear the mental clutter Vidya Sury

Collecting junk as we pass through life is something none of us can avoid. Who doesn’t have those once-lovely things that comfortably occupy space around the home or office? So hard to get rid of them. In fact, many of these things are long-forgotten until we resolve to clear the clutter, then we end up going through them all over again and find it hard to let go.

Yes, I am very guilty of this. Sure I enjoyed the process, but at the end of the day, my clutter clearing didn’t see any major results. So I had gotten rid of the dust, and after realizing I had wasted hours reviving what I had actually forgotten about – things best left that way – I was forced to move on to more important things that HAD to be done.

The clutter? Still there.

That was no good at all.

And then came the wake-up call. I won’t bore you with those details, but suffice it to say that I decided I would create breathing space. I got down to it with determination and simply resolved to donate or dispose something every day. I am still a work in progress, and it is taking a little time, but I know I’ll get there this time. And it is a great feeling to give away stuff.

Now, that takes care of the physical clutter.

What about the junk we carry around in our head? The emotional baggage?

Mental clutter is just as important to clear up, right? Those memories we store – happy and sad – do require some re-hauling from time to time to allow fresh thoughts in. Why carry around old negative stuff and limit ourselves?

To stay healthy, we need to let go of unhappy experiences, fears, worries and regrets and claim our focus back. We need to let go of toxic relationships. Can you imagine the amount of energy and space all this is taking up, stopping you from being your best self?

But is it really possible to clear mental clutter?

Fortunately, yes.

Letting Go Vidya Sury Holding On

Let’s define clutter as just about anything that interferes with our happiness.

I remember, many years ago, when my Mom suggested meditation to get all the mental junk out of my head, I would find it very hard. Each time I closed my eyes, her soothing voice guided me to close my eyes and take a deep breath, but all I would think of was that thing that annoyed me or some hurtful thing someone had said or done.

So anyway, realizing that this wouldn’t work for me, at least not at the time, my Mom, being the innovative teacher she was, taught me to follow the same steps I used in an activity I particularly enjoyed. Don’t laugh – but from the age of 4, I just loved cleaning closets. Yep. Just picture me standing in front of a messy closet, hands on hips, taking stock and deciding on course of action. That’s exactly what I did with mental clutter.

Here is what I did, and still do.

Take stock

Now, a cluttered closet is easier to look at and sort out, but what is in the mind is a lot harder. Here are some questions that can help with this:

  • Are you in any relationships that are wearing you out?
  • Do you have a habit of overthinking about things that keep you from the life you deserve or want?
  • Do you feel distracted from feeling emotionally happy?
  • Will this matter a few years from now?
  • Is it really clutter or am I making a big deal out of it?

It helps to sit in a quiet spot and figure out the answers to these questions. In fact, I like to write it all down.


Once you’ve got at least some of the answers, sort them out just as one might do with clothes – socks, shirts, pants and so on. Except, with the mental stuff, it goes like this:

  • What can I let go of now?
  • What feelings can I release?
  • What problems can be solved?
  • What can I accept?

Add your own questions if you feel like. If you think you need help, please do get it. I was lucky to have my Mom.


It is time now to make a plan of action to deal with each of those things. Based on the previous step, make a to-do list. It helps to schedule each item in your calendar. For example, to get rid of distractions that eat into your productivity, if email is your demon and messing with your mind, deal with it by resolving not to keep your mailbox open. Don’t feel obliged to reply to every email the moment it comes in. Depending on what’s on your list, schedule an action and a date to help you resolve it.

Trash it

As you resolve each issue, it is time to throw it away. It now belongs in the trash can. Let it go. Do it.

Vidya Sury Letting Go 6

Keep off the clutter

Ya know, just like weight loss. Work hard, lose it, keep it off. Avoid that mental clutter from building up again. Be alert to the signs. One obvious indication is when your desk, your home, your space is a mess. This is usually considered a sign of inner imbalance. To keep track and stay on track, why not set aside a few minutes to take stock every day? Write down what is bothering you. Try and make it a habit to spot mental clutter and deal with it before it snowballs into a major issue. This will help you focus on the things that really matter. And oh, it helps to cultivate the habit of saying NO. More about that in another post!

You know what they say – we become what we think. Why not turn our thoughts into meaningful ones that lead us to where we would rather be than wallow in the quicksand of negativity?

You can’t zap mental clutter away – it takes time and effort to clear up that precious space of all the crap that builds up over time. And we have to deal with issues. We are all so caught up with our routines that we become automatons. We lose sight of the present moment. When that happens, things just pile up into a mess. Practicing mindfulness can help you get there and make space for good things!

How do you keep your mind clutter free? If-you-let-go-a-little

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Suzie Cheel May 31, 2016 at 8:31 am

I love this Vidya, and yesterday i drew my let go card. Yes we all have relationships and practices to release so be better know who we are and feel that love xxoo
Suzie Cheel recently posted…When You Be Love Your Life Changes

Sunila Vig May 31, 2016 at 10:35 am

Beautiful post Vidya. At any point in life it is timely. Very practicable also. I pictured you as a lil gal taking stock of ur closet muaaahhhhh and what a wonderful mum is yours. Hugs
Sunila Vig recently posted…First ever purely Gratitude post, thanks to Vidya Sury 🙂

Danny Simon May 31, 2016 at 11:19 am

Well written!! Don’t know though if we can limit the definition of clutter with just that… The step by step process to declutter is amazing! I do think simply if people could truly let go and learn to say no, a lot of clutter could be easily avoided! But that’s just it.. Not easy to do!

Vidya Sury May 31, 2016 at 2:22 pm

Thank you Danny! I know what you mean! I could only loosely define it – because clutter is a matter of perception. Thank you for your input.Oh yes easier said than done, and for some of us, a lifelong process! 🙂
Vidya Sury recently posted…How to clean your spiritual closet #mentalclutter

Ellen Bard May 31, 2016 at 3:24 pm

Love this Vidya! Such great questions, and a different approach to meditation. I’m definitely more comfortable with visualisation than meditation after spending time working with a hypnotherapist and learning self-hypnosis, but i think there’s space for both in my life – once I’ve cleared out the mental clutter that is! 😉
Ellen Bard recently posted…How to End Negative Self-Talk

Mahevash May 31, 2016 at 5:33 pm

A useful walkthrough for people like me who can’t meditate. Will definitely be trying this out 🙂

Please could you approve this comment and delete the earlier one? My little blog could surely use some traffic 🙂
Mahevash recently posted…Conquering Stage Fright

Kaarina May 31, 2016 at 5:56 pm

Lovely post 🙂 I’ve been going through the process of letting go of physical possessions this week. I assist clients with this all the time and am pretty good at it for myself, but this week has been a huge purge. Perhaps it’s the aging process that allows us to realize that some things we’ve held on to for so long no longer need to be in our possession. They yearn to be set free: just like negative thoughts and mental clutter. I like the image of kites and floating balloons, dandelion fronds and bubbles as representing “letting go.” Cheers!
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Asha May 31, 2016 at 8:34 pm

Very much my problem Vidya. Many days I struggle to still my mind with all the clutter floating around..

Darla M Sands June 2, 2016 at 8:49 pm

I actually have the issue of carrying around and idealizing parts of my past. This is excellent guidance that will surely help me. Thank you!
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Vidya Sury June 8, 2016 at 12:02 am

Thank you for your kind words, Darla. I think we might all have that issue… and while some parts resolve themselves, some need a little push from us. Hugs!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Because We Are Best Friends Forever

Rachna June 3, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Oh yes, l sometimes grapple with this. Overbooking is a huge issue, sometimes taking long to let go. Sometimes l find that confronting my thoughts help me release them and move on. Very important points you’ve shared here. Just like your mom advised, meditation helps as well, even my daily workout. I think l should do this decluttering more often and like you said keep the negativity off. Thank you for the reminder, Vids.
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Vidya Sury June 7, 2016 at 11:48 pm

Hugs, Rachna! We get so caught up with our routine that we end up gathering thoughts and things that may not serve us. Nice to take stock occasionally. I find Saturdays are a good time for this. And of course, setting boundaries helps! Thank you for coming by!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Because We Are Best Friends Forever

Shailaja Vishwanath June 3, 2016 at 12:55 pm

I agree that a clinical approach to clutter is the best thing. Even mental clutter. The hardest must be the trashing and the not collecting again. It takes me a while to let go- especially of deep-seated hurt and anger. But I’ve learned to do it better over the years. Meditation, good sleep and doing something I love on a daily basis helps me wonderfully.

As always a peaceful and beautiful post to end my week. Hugs, Vidya!
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Vidya Sury June 7, 2016 at 11:47 pm

Yes, Shailaja! Sleep and meditation are overall healers and keep many other health issues at bay. When we’re well-rested, we tend to see things differently. That said, I am wading through my physical clutter. 🙂 Thank you for coming by. Great to see you here!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Because We Are Best Friends Forever

Aditi June 3, 2016 at 9:56 pm

Such a lovely and useful post Vidya. I do over think everything – work, life and everything in between and my mind is in dire need of decluttering. Because of over thinking, I find meditation so difficult, my mind drifting away every time. Will try to use these practical tips. Much love!
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Vidya Sury June 7, 2016 at 11:46 pm

I’d love to know if you practiced these, Aditi. I find meditation doesn’t always work for me as sitting still makes my mind wander. A happy mind = happy life. Hugs to you!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Because We Are Best Friends Forever

Parul June 4, 2016 at 7:46 am

Physical clutter is easy to clean. You set time and your mind and it gets done. Mental clutter takes time. Anger, hurt or pain hood us back from letting go but what helps me focus is joy in everyday things, being grateful, and finding what’s positive. Great post to start my day with.
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Vidya Sury June 7, 2016 at 11:45 pm

Thank you Parul! Appreciation changes the way we see life. Hugs!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Because We Are Best Friends Forever

Birgit June 7, 2016 at 7:15 am

This is so true and I think if we have a cluttered home, it doesn’t help our mind either. I like what you said because my boss…is a bit of a …..jerk. I love my job and have been there for 25 years. I have received a lot of accolades from my clients which warms my heart but I didn’t get one bit of recognition from my boss. I could write so much to explain the reasons for my disappointment but this is cluttering my mind and has been for a while. Your post has woken me up as to the negativity coming from this and how it really isn’t doing me any good at all. I am going to practise some more mindful meditation and realize that my job is more about the people I help and not about the recognition. I deserve the recognition but my boss is one who prefers to intimidate, says very little and is actually not a very happy person. Thanks Vidya for posting this
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Vidya Sury June 7, 2016 at 11:43 pm

Hugs, Birgit! What a boss! I had one like that – each time I had a major achievement he’d say “Nothing less was expected from you” as if it was all in a day’s work. That used to be upsetting because as sales people, we needed to recount what happened and feel good – something my subsequent boss realized! But eventually, as long as the old boss was around, I simply learned stop expecting any motivation from him and instead, saw my clients as my sources of joy!. It really helps to change perspective. I am sure the people you interact with must love you and remember you all their lives. Your boss, on the other hand, probably has his own demons to deal with!
Vidya Sury recently posted…Because We Are Best Friends Forever

Birgit June 7, 2016 at 7:16 am

I hope you received my previous post??
Birgit recently posted…My 3 Clues- The Armchair Squid Film Society

Vidya Sury June 7, 2016 at 11:36 pm

Yes, thank you Birgit! 🙂
Vidya Sury recently posted…Because We Are Best Friends Forever


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