This summer has involved a lot of packing. I cleared out my apartment in Lexington, KY and shipped my furniture to Portland, OR, moved my personal belongings into my parents house, and am now packing a car with camping gear for a 3 week cross country road trip. 4300 miles later, I'll be unpacking all my things and setting up a new apartment the week before medical school begins.
This has me thinking a lot about SPACE and all the STUFF we put into it.
I do an exercise with clients where I ask them to describe their mind as a physical space. Try it. If your mind, where "you" are every day, could be described as a space, what would it look like? Would it be cozy, or expansive? Dark, or lined with windows? Cluttered, or clean?
The space we inhabit - both mentally, and actually - has a profound impact on our moods, capabilities, and lives.
The answers I have heard are as varied as we are: an efficient mechanical system of gears, a dusty old attic, a wide open space where somehow nothing is out of reach, a room full of filing cabinets and folders, etc. Mine is a pleasant room under the eaves, where my eyes are windows.
Your answer will tell you one very clear thing about yourself: do you ENJOY your mental space? Are you comfortable, safe, and creative in your own mind? Or do you feel trapped, overwhelmed, and lost?
After you discover your mental space, take a look at your actual surroundings: the one impacts the other. If your mind feels cluttered, your space likely is, too. Cleaning up your physical space and making it comforting to come into may bring a welcome peace of mind. If you need guidelines about what to keep, I love this line by William Morris:
"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."
Taking the time to just imagine what you would LIKE your mental space to feel like can help, too. Imagine it until it becomes real. When you feel stressed, try to take yourself to your ideal mental space (cottage by the sea, perhaps?).
If this seems silly, that's okay. I encourage you to give it a shot anyway. You never know, the mansion of your dreams may be sitting on your shoulders.
*The art is by Bobbie Baker, Day 579 "Butterflies of Academia"