Clearing a Space

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There’s a lot going on in my life. I don’t know where to start – what to look at first.

Some of it will take a short time to sort out, other things might take days, weeks, or even longer.

Do I tackle the high priority items first, or those that will take just a few minutes, even if they can wait?

Does this sound like you?

You have probably read or heard of techniques that help you to organise yourself. Many of them require that you prioritise your list with letters or numbers, and then go down the list. Or reduce your list to just three things each day. There are Apps to help you keep things in order.

All well and good, but the first action – of prioritising – can be the most difficult.

And it’s not just about To-do lists – there are other things in our lives that need our attention – and our time.

 

What does your list look like?

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This is mine at the moment (just in the order that is occurring to me as I write):

  • Check my holiday dates
  • Does my elderly aunt need more help?
  • Phone my friend to firm up a date for our day out
  • Print leaflets
  • Buy milk
  • Pay bills
  • Tidy my desk
  • Go for a walk
  • etc.

I’m sure you don’t want to read more of my list. I’ve only included it here so that you can see how difficult it is to work with this. But of course you know that.

Deciding whether tidying my desk is more important than going for a walk – well, it’s like apples and pears – not comparing like with like. I’d like to start tomorrow with a tidy desk, but the world won’t fall in if it’s not. A daily walk is good for my health and well-being, but one day off won’t make much difference. And how do these compare to checking on my mother, and my elderly aunt?

Focusing is of real help here.

When I’m feeling even a little bit overwhelmed with lots to do, I start by ‘clearing a space’. Eugene Gendlin describes this in his book ‘Focusing’. 

Clearing a Space

Start by asking yourself (or asking your Listener to ask you) what is in the way of you feeling alright now?

Then just say what comes first. So if I were to start with my list here, I’d say, ‘Oh I need to check those dates for my holiday, and I have to do that because the flights need to be booked.’

Then without going into detail, mentally put the issue of the holiday to one side away from your body, in whatever way feels helpful to you today. You may choose to mentally put it on a shelf, a window sill, on the floor beside you, or by a tree over there.P1030898

Another way might be to attach each issue to a helium balloon on a string. How you do this doesn’t matter, you just need to imagine it’s there on one side, and that you can pick it up later if you want to.

Then choose something else that’s on your mind. The order doesn’t matter, just the next thing that comes to mind. Spend a minute or two describing the issue, and then put it next to the first.

Continue doing this, asking yourself what’s in the way of feeling okay right now, until nothing else comes. This part of the process is rather like clearing your desk before you start on a project, or clearing the work surface in your kitchen before you start cooking.

Then take a pause, and sense the feeling of these issues being lifted. Often a new freeing energy comes into the body. Enjoy this space for a while.

And when you feel ready to move on, look at your row, or pile of issues, and sense which stands out from the others. It might be more brightly coloured, it might be shiny, it might be jumping up and down, or showing itself more subtly. That’s the one to prioritise, or to Focus on right now.balloons-154949_640 (1)

If you chose to attach the issues to balloons, you might decide to hold on to one, and let all the other strings go, so that the balloons float up and away.

This may be all that you need right now – to help you organise yourself. Or you may have chosen to spend time Focusing, and this method can help you to Focus on what’s really calling for your attention; the one your inner self has decided to Focus on, even if it is quite a surprise to you which one came as the most pressing.

And be curious about what unfolds. The others will wait until another Focusing time.

And there are other ways of starting a Focusing session, some of which you may find more helpful. I don’t always use ‘clearing a space’, but I do when a list like the one above is nagging at me.

One of the benefits of this method is that, as the Focuser, you begin to see that you are not those issues that you have cleared. There is a deeper self that is the real you. Yes, these are our thoughts, and we are not our thoughts.