We all need space – physical, psychological and spiritual – but in this age of information, virtual space can become as cluttered as our living rooms or our minds. By space clearing our physical, psychological and virtual clutter, according to ancient spiritual principles – we nurture mind, body and spirit.
“We leave this world just as we entered it – with nothing. In spite of all our work there is nothing we can take with us.” (Ecclesiastes 5:15)
“You can’t take it with you” is the more common expression of the fact that, whether we like it or not, one day we must let go of our material possessions forever. It’s a reminder that who you are is important. And a reminder not to become too attached to things at the expense of your being. It also speaks to us today, in the digital age, which has ushered in a whole new dimension of materialism, and where virtual or e-clutter has begun to pose some interesting challenges for us.
We are all familiar with physical clutter; it’s part of everyday life in a consumer society. However, sometimes our attachment to physical possessions can become irrational to the extent that we cannot throw anything away. The sheer volume of it all becomes the overriding problem. This situation is graphically depicted in reality television shows about hoarding, where some intrepid reporter/investigator ventures into a hoarder’s home and encounters mountains of household objects, appliances, newspapers or bric-a-brac.
Regardless of how it came about, in the end the problem is about not having enough space
Space has never been more important for us than it is now, in this second decade of the 21st century. We all need physical space or room to move, or for personal privacy. There is also psychological space, which allows us to think clearly and/or make important decisions. Sometimes too, time and space are closely connected – for example, when we take time out or have time away – but today not only is our inner, mental world targeted and engaged by information around the clock (advertising, mass market emails, blogs, SMS, social media, news bulletins, online subscriptions and so on); we are increasingly active in virtual space. This is where we communicate, shop, bank, trade and conduct business.
On the one hand, conducting our affairs in virtual space is highly convenient and environmentally conscientious. On the other hand, unlike living space in a room or house, which can be de-cluttered by removing or rearranging physical objects, in the virtual world there is no real limitation to how much clutter can be accumulated. It is worth noting that as the physical ‘footprint’ of data storage technologies shrinks, their capacity to store information is actually expanding. So as technology advances, more and more e-clutter can be stockpiled in less and less space. It’s the equivalent of a traditional hoarder being able to magically add more and bigger rooms to his or her house to accommodate more and more stuff.
Clear out your virtual world
We need to space clear our virtual world, just as much if not more than we need to de-clutter the physical spaces where we live, work and play. Traditional space clearing practice is a well-recognised, modern way of tackling the problem of physical clutter and the spatial arrangement of objects. The aim is to maximise the flow of energy or ‘qi’; an idea which goes back thousands of years to the Chinese feng shui tradition. While virtual space may not be subject to the same limitations of physical space, we cannot underestimate the psychological or psychic impact of storing, or hoarding large amounts of information. We are only just beginning to see the emergence of information-related disorders such as internet and video game addiction.
Space clearing in the modern age asks us to be vigilant in two key areas. First, in our virtual housekeeping practices. And secondly, the most sacred space of all, our innermost world of heart, mind and soul: here lies the source of our true humanity, the miracle of life itself and our potential to become creators in our own right. But without a disciplined approach to clearing our virtual living spaces, modern life can become a mishmash of passwords, account, serial or registration numbers, usernames, multi-digit pins, subscription IDs, memberships and so on; our email inboxes can turn into unwieldy online ‘cupboards’ stuffed with things we are dimly aware of but loathe to clean out, in case one day there is something in there we need.
It may be easy to play down this overload of digital information, considering it is wireless, weightless and invisible. But is virtual clutter really ‘out of sight, out of mind?’ Evidently, online ‘convenience’ is not saving us time and energy; quite the opposite. Now so many things are easier and quicker to do, we are busier than ever. Time poverty has reached epidemic levels around the globe. The technology driven acceleration of modern-day life means we now have more to do than at any other time in history – and less time to accomplish it. We have more things on our mind than ever before. The virtual world is placing an unprecedented multi-tasking demand on our mental and intuitive capacities.
The bigger picture
If we step back for a second and take a bigger view of this situation, however, we see that there is a wealth of wisdom to draw from to guide us forward in this accelerating, digital world. Great spiritual traditions have long recognised the significance of things that are non-physical in nature – prayer or its equivalent is an ancient practice common to religions throughout history. The effectiveness of prayer is based on the existence of what you might call the virtual realm of faith, hope and love, where the human mind has the capacity to connect with the will of the Divine.
The view that we can influence what happens to us, or attract certain events or life support of a material or non-material nature, has long been recognised by various teachings; and more recently in mainstream life by spokespeople like Rhonda Byrne, author of “The Secret” (2006). The law of attraction described by Byrne recognises that everything is energy. According to the principle of ‘like attracts like’, therefore, our energy and thoughts have the power to attract or repel wealth, health and happiness. Even in mainstream science, the theory of quantum physics agrees that human beings and the physical world are interconnected through a dynamic interaction of pure energy.
For feng shui practitioner, Rodika Tchi, space clearing is all about freeing up physical space on this energetic level. It is an art practised daily in ancient cultures such as India and Bali, Peru and Morocco. Although perhaps we hear less about what space clearing can achieve in virtual space, the principles still apply. Just as the flow of energy or qi can be disrupted or restricted in our living spaces, so might clutter, in the virtual worlds we inhabit, have consequences for our mental and psychic life.
Emotions and breath
Most of us have experienced heavy emotions. Or how, in certain company, we can feel weighed down by the quality of energy around us. We might also agree that if particular social, work or domestic situations are left unattended to for long periods time, negative emotions can accumulate. Just like clutter and other forms of physical residue. Perhaps one day a new vocabulary will emerge to describe phenomena such as this. For example, psychic or emotional dust, grime, rust or debris.
The quality of our breath – and the way we breathe – is another aspect of our being. This is well recognised in many ancient spiritual traditions. In this context, breath and consciousness are closely connected. And so the conscious breath – as it is demonstrated in meditation and esoteric practices that are increasingly finding their way into mainstream personal and professional life – is one of the big brooms in our inner toolkit. With this, we can learn to become aware of the side effects of e-clutter and our constant online activities, and sweep clear the cobwebs of our psychic closets.
To truly take advantage of the technological genius transforming society at all levels today, we need to learn how to cultivate a holistic sense of self. We need to foster a quality of being and consciousness able to stand free of the tsunami of information that would otherwise clog up both our minds and the virtual spaces we inhabit for so much of our time.
The future will require us to be diligent in our digital housekeeping. And even more important is our ability to space clear on the inside: heart, mind and soul – an inner feng shui you might say. Our current preoccupation with technology leaves us information rich but time and knowledge poor. By revisiting some age-old principles from spiritual traditions thousands of years old, we may finally uncover the key to managing technology in a balanced, creative way.
Rodika Tchi’s ultimate feng shui test of a home lies in the following question: “At the end of the day, when you come home, do you feel like it puts its arms around you?” Similarly, we might ask ourselves if our activities in virtual space save us time and energy, empowering us to give more of ourselves to the things that really count in this life? If the answer is yes, then maybe when our time is up on this earthly plane, we will take something real within us when we return home; there to be embraced by the eternal, as creators in our own right.
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