If any of you are into lifestyle magazines or watch home decorating channels and videos, chances are pretty good you’ve heard the name of Marie Kondo.
Cleaning Up House and Developing Spatial Intelligence
Kondo is the writer of the runaway bestselling book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing”. She’s been featured in just about every mainstream publication imaginable at this point and people have been raving about her methods and how it has helped them declutter their own lives. The gist of Kondo’s book and work as a space efficiency expert, is this; organize your home, your belongings, keep only things which “spark joy” (i.e gives you a boost or positive energy connected to it) and get rid of everything else which doesn’t and you will be astounded how that will tidy up your own life and psychic space.
Kondo isn’t coming out of nowhere with this. In fact, before she became a celebrity efficiency expert, she was an attendant at a Shinto temple for years and much of what she is saying is actually based on Japanese Shinto belief. Shintoism is an animist religion and it believes in the energy and spirit of things, people and places and many of its teachings are based on far older shamanistic beliefs indigenous to Japan. In some ways, Kondo’s ideas of space management and decluttering and allowing the energy of things which spark joy come forward are not unlike Chinese ideas of Feng Shui. It would explain why the Japanese are easily the best in the world when it comes to designing with space efficiency in mind given that it is a very crowded island nation where space is at a premium.
Her method offers very specific methods in decluttering and getting rid of stuff you no longer need, use or no longer makes you happy. She suggests taking a whole day off and doing an epic house cleanse, starting with clothes, books, miscellaneous belongings, papers and sentimental belongings. There are even methods on how to fold clothes properly and make the most of your space.
There is a method to her madness. By touching and holding every last thing of the thousands of things you own, you’re not only seeing if it sparks joy anymore in you, but you’re also confronting your past, the decisions you made and aspects of yourself you’d rather not deal with. When you decide to get rid of something, before tossing it, you say “Thank you” to that item for its time and service with you. It’s an exercise in generating gratitude. You also learn to develop your abilities in discerning what works for you and what doesn’t anymore. It works on so many levels. By tackling the easy stuff first (i.e clothes and books), by the time you start dealing with personal mementos and things which hold sentimental value or bring back memories, you’ll be able to discern if it sparks joy for you or not and be able to “read” the item past your own emotional fog.
Furthermore, by correctly folding and storing things you aren’t using, you’re allowing them to rest (OK, so that sounds a bit woo-woo) so that when you do use them, they’ll be rested and ready to go. Read: more positive energy.
I can’t understand hoarders or people who constantly live in a mess, clothes and food everywhere or keep their stuff in garbage bags. When I see those TV shows of hoarders, I actually feel really bad for them because its obvious there’s a sickness there. I can see why keeping things out of duty to a memory, keeping collections of things (in my case books and vinyl records) can sometimes hold you back from moving forward. When you own too much stuff, the stuff starts to own you instead of you owning it.
Surprisingly, you’ll also begin to start saving money. When you go out shopping or happen to walk by shop windows or while browsing through your favorite spots, because you now know what sparks joy for you when you hold something, it becomes that much easier to see what’s worth buying and what isn’t. You’re going to become less susceptible to impulse buying, following trends or keeping up with the Jones.
There are a fuck-ton of Youtube videos of people using the KonMari method . Mostly before and after vids but I think a lot of them miss the point. Most of these videos just play up on the decluttering and organizing aspect and don’t even deal with the spiritual aspect of the exercise at all. For that, you’ll probably have to do it yourself to experience it. Spiritually, I think you become closer to who you really are. Your clarity of vision starts to come back. You become less attached to the belongings and start to see it is these very things which keep you anchored in the material world. These are the pins holding the matrix up, the one we call “reality”.
One of the things I’ve noticed with the KonMari method is that you also start to develop your spatial intelligence (if you don’t have it already).
One of the reasons why I hate stepping into malls is that I can no longer walk in a straight line anymore without at least stopping 5 or 6 times because some one has cut in front of me. I don’t know if it’s the constant looking down at your cell phone, a protein deficiency to the brain or just plain stupidity, but people do not walk straight anymore or with purpose. They walk in curves and change directions all the time and don’t seem to realize what they are doing or where they are going. Next time you find yourself in a mall, just sit down and watch. You’ll see. It is a lack of spatial intelligence and an animal herd mentality. It’s the same on trains or subway cars. People will automatically pile into the one which is already uncomfortably full to capacity and fail to see, that if they just looked or walked ten steps further, the next car is practically empty and full of seats.
Give it a go, folks. The reason why her book is resonating with so many people it that it simply works. You’ve got nothing to lose except maybe cleaning up your living space for the better.