A couple of years ago I first encountered the KonMari method for decluttering and tidying. The method was developed by Japanese tidying consultant and best-selling author Marie Kondo, who claims that by following a few strict steps you can declutter and tidy your entire home – and keep it that way, forever.
After greeting your house and visualizing the life you would like to live there, all of your belongings are divided into five categories. For every category you will pick up each and every item and ask yourself: Does it spark joy? Yes? The item stays. If not, you thank it for its service and donate or trash it. After going through all of your belongings this way, the lucky joy-sparking items that made the cut are put away in a well-organized manner.
The method really spoke to me as soon as I read into it. For one, I’m not very tidy by nature but I do get frustrated when my apartment is cluttered. The promise of getting the entire place tidy, forever (Forever!) … Sounds awesome, right? And having a carefully described, methodical process sounds like a dream for a natural list-maker like me.
Besides all that, I have always felt drawn to Japanese culture and traditions. As well as spiritual development in the form of yoga and meditation. Wait, what? What does this last aspect have to do with KonMari?
The Yoga of Tidying
First, I should make clear: in her books, Marie Kondo does not describe her method as a spiritual path at all. The entire workflow is very practical and geared towards our lives in the material world. That said, when I read the books I immediately noticed how her tidying principles seamlessly fall into line with my personal yoga practice.
When I have rolled out my mat, I first take some time to connect with my body. The same way as Marie Kondo may greet the house before getting started.
When I practice asanas, I really tune into myself to feel what my body needs. I also mindfully feel whether I am tensing any muscles that do not serve the pose and may be relaxed. The same way as Marie Kondo asks you for eve3ry item whether it sparks joy. And the way she invites you to let go of the things you no longer need.
When I look at the anatomical alignment of asanas, there is always a way to build up a safe and stable pose. And joining several poses into a sequence, you should be able to easily flow from one asana into the other. The same way as Marie Kondo would give each of your belongings its own “home” where you should always return them after use, while at the same time keeping them ready to be taken up into the flow of daily activities.
Lastly, the entire tidying process seems to be brimming with gratitude and mindfulness. That is why I say: the KonMari method is yoga, with your living space serving the same function as your yoga mat would.
Your Living Space as Nirvana
After reading both of Marie Kondo’s books, I got started on my own so-called “Tidying Festival”. I spent almost a year full of decluttering, tidying and joy. I became more aware of how I use my living space and belongings in daily life and started to enjoy returning any items lying around to their rightful home, in order to prepare a clean slate for the next day.
… OK, I don’t always succeed at these habits and maybe it’s also time to weed out my things and check whether the organization still makes sense.
The idea that you could become tidy forever may be a fantasy. The same way we are never done learning in our yoga practice and we need to keep coming back to our mat. If anyone does succeed to keep their space tidy without fail, forever, they probably have reached enlightenment.
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