The Clutter In Your Soul, and How to Clear It

by Lynn Brewer  Mar 8, 2016
Sitting in the grass with a shirt over the head

So there's this thing I do as part of my practice. It's called Fear Inventory, and it's basically a writing meditation where you list out all the fears you have underlying a resentment you are feeling. After you write them all out, you read them aloud to someone else and then tear up the paper it was written on, thereby releasing the fears you've been carrying and trusting that a higher power will take care of the rest.

And then one day, in mid-January of this year, I started saving my inventories to read to someone. At first it was just two or three that could easily be knocked out in a ten minute phone call. Then I got busy and kept putting it off. I was still writing everything down, I just wasn't reading it and releasing it.

It wasn't very pretty. I went into a depressive spiral that took me further down than I had been in years. For the first time in the better part of a decade, I had self-destructive thoughts. I thought about cutting myself. I thought about suicide. I scared the daylights out of my husband and family.

Finally I decided to assess the situation for what it really was. I had written - but not read - thirteen inventories over the course of six weeks. All those fears I had dredged up were still floating around inside me, like a filthy aquarium where the nastiness keeps getting stirred up but never filtered out or replaced with clean water. I confessed my hoarding to my husband, whose shocked face will stay with me as a reminder forever not to repeat this cycle. I asked him to listen to them.

"All of them?"

"Or as many of them as I can handle reading right now."

Unlike other inventories I've read aloud, where I would speed up to rush through the unpleasant sensation, this time I just breathed into whatever was coming up. There were even moments when I felt myself go unconscious in a way; I would be reading aloud the words but I wouldn't be paying attention to what they meant or how I felt about them. And I would apologize and say, "I'm sorry, I need to back up." There was one fear that I had to repeat two or three times before I could actually feel it in my body.

After reading the first inventory and tearing it up, this dark heavy sensation revealed itself in my chest and belly. After two more, I felt the dark mass start to heat up and burn around the edges. After the fourth one, I felt the bottom of the mass start to disintegrate and break apart from the whole. The sheaf of papers I felt in my hands was growing lighter. Then I read a really intense inventory, and the sheaf felt ten times heavier than it had a moment ago. My husband started asking if I was okay, if I needed to stop, and I kept shaking my head, insisting I needed to keep reading if he could still handle hearing them. After the eighth one, I felt like I had smacked up against a cement wall and was splattered over it, like a bug on a windshield. But at the same time, I could see the end in sight. I had to keep going. It was after the tenth inventory that both my mind and body felt spacey and detached, and I knew it was time to stop. Even though the end was in sight, I knew I needed to be as present for the final three as I was for the first ten. There was a respectable pile of torn up yellow sheets of paper on the coffee table in front of us.

I've been thinking a lot about clutter lately. There's this room in our home that has been used as a dumping ground for things that we didn't know what to do with or, more significantly, deal with. I think we all have a place like that in our own homes, and I also think we all have a place like that in our souls. We shove the things in there that are unfashionable or unattractive or just plain uncomfortable. We fill it with good intentions gone wrong, with things we always meant to get around to, with painful memories of things we want to wish away. But they never go anywhere until we deal with them. I used to get overwhelmed with these cluttered places, both in my home and in myself. Since learning to OM though, I don't get so overwhelmed. I can remind myself to take it all breath by breath and stroke by stroke. The shame and disgust I feel when I look over the cluttered places get as much attention as the joy I feel when the clutter has been cleared out. I won't lie, there's still an ungodly amount of clutter in my life. But the same way that I breathed into every moment of reading those stockpiled fear inventories is the only thing I know to do when facing these challenges. Keep breathing through the sensation, acknowledge when you've gone unconscious, back up when you need to.

And most importantly - do it and get it done.

Lynn's Blog can be found at The Om Muse

(Photo Credit: Unknown)