The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing - Marie Kondo 2014
Tidying is a dialogue with one’s self
Finish discarding first
“KonMari, would you like to come stand under a waterfall?”
I got this invitation from a client, a charming woman who was still an active business manager and an avid skier and hiker at the age of seventy-four. She had been practicing meditation under running water for more than a decade and seemed to really enjoy it. She would casually remark, “I’m off to a waterfall,” as if she were going to the spa. Consequently, the place she took me was not a spot for beginners on an introductory tour. Leaving our lodgings at six in the morning, we hiked along a mountain path, climbed over fences, and forded a river where the rushing water came up to our knees, until we finally reached a deserted waterfall.
But I didn’t bring up this subject because I wanted to introduce this peculiar form of recreation. Rather, I found through this experience that there is significant similarity between meditating under a waterfall and tidying. When you stand under a waterfall, the only audible sound is the roar of water. As the cascade pummels your body, the sensation of pain soon disappears and numbness spreads. Then a sensation of heat warms you from the inside out, and you enter a meditative trance. Although I had never tried this form of meditation before, the sensation it generated seemed extremely familiar. It closely resembled what I experience when I am tidying. While not exactly a meditative state, there are times when I am cleaning that I can quietly commune with myself. The work of carefully considering each object I own to see whether it sparks joy inside me is like conversing with myself through the medium of my possessions.
For this reason, it is essential to create a quiet space in which to evaluate the things in your life. Ideally, you should not even be listening to music. Sometimes I hear of methods that recommend tidying in time to a catchy song, but personally, I don’t encourage this. I feel that noise makes it harder to hear the internal dialogue between the owner and his or her belongings. Listening to the TV is, of course, out of the question. If you need some background noise to relax, choose environmental or ambient music with no lyrics or well-defined melodies. If you want to add momentum to your tidying work, tap the power of the atmosphere in your room rather than relying on music.
The best time to start is early morning. The fresh morning air keeps your mind clear and your power of discernment sharp. For this reason, most of my lessons commence in the morning. The earliest lesson I ever conducted began at six thirty, and we were able to clean at twice the usual speed.
The clear, refreshed feeling gained after standing under a waterfall can be addictive. Similarly, when you finish putting your space in order, you will be overcome with the urge to do it again. And, unlike waterfall meditation, you don’t have to travel long distances over hard terrain to get there. You can enjoy the same effect in your own home. That’s pretty special, don’t you think?