Do you know that you need to declutter, but the thought of it consumes you with dread and maybe even guilt? Author and teacher Stephanie Bennett Vogt knows the feeling. That’s why she created the Spacious Way, a conscious method of clearing your home. She’s written five books on the subject, including her first, Your Spacious Self: Clear the Clutter and Discover Who You Are, which has been updated for its 10th anniversary. We asked Stephanie to explain her unique take on home organization and how you can apply it to your own life.
Read Part 1 of this blog post below and then read Part 2 here.
What inspired you to start your own clearing journey?
I wouldn’t necessarily use the word “inspired” to describe my start on this path. It was more a case of accidentally stumbling into it, or it stumbling into me.
I was in my early 40s at the time, having walked away from a 20-year career as a high school Spanish teacher. I was at the top of my game and burned out. I didn’t know what I loved anymore, or who I was. Quitting the sure thing to enter the big unknown was about the most terrifying thing I’d ever done.
It was during this time that I discovered, to my horror, that I was swimming in clutter. Not the unsightly messes that most people associate with clutter, but the kind that is squirreled inside things like closets and drawers… and yes, even head spaces. As someone who’d always prided herself in being neat-as-pin her whole life, this discovery came down like a sledgehammer to my self-concept and worldview.
I intuitively knew there was more to clutter than just piles of stuff because of how it made me feel when I made efforts to clear it. I could feel the energetic effects of it, the congestion, the stickiness and the stuckness. It was like I was living in a smog-filled home swirling with unprocessed emotions.
That’s when I was drawn to space clearing, a relatively unknown field at the time, and studying with the best teachers I could find. This deep-dive journey not only helped me to process my own messy relationship with clutter, but affirmed what I had instinctively known to be true: that clutter is a multi-layered phenomenon and way bigger than we can see. It wasn’t until a decade later –– after I’d completed two space-clearing certification programs, written my first book and began to teach –– that I was finally able to understand and explain why most clearing efforts, though well-intentioned, do not last.
Fast-forward almost 30 years later and here I am… still clearing and helping others walk an easier path towards spacious wholeness.
Can you briefly explain the concept behind your unique method of conscious clearing?
Happy to. As I see it, clutter is not limited to the physical stuff that we see and trip over, and clearing is not a linear, finite task that we rush through or squeeze into a long weekend.
Instead of the more standard practices of clutter clearing which are more like a painful, exhausting extraction process, the Spacious Way works more slowly and gently from the inside out to address the underlying root causes – the patterns, resistances, attachments – of anything that holds us back. Moving more slowly and mindfully is done on purpose, with the goal of charming the part of the brain that goes into fight-or-flight reactivity and overwhelm.
Be it physical, mental, emotional or energetic, people discover to their delight and amazement that their one minute of “slow drip” clearing has morphed into more minutes and less baggage without them even noticing it. They experience greater ease, calm and freedom, not to mention a quieter mind and calmer nervous system. In time, they realize that their small changes have become big ones.
This is the magic of clearing the Spacious Way.
How are physical and emotional clutter related? Which should you clear first, or can they happen simultaneously?
Good question. I would add mental clutter to the mix, as it relates here too. What ties physical, mental and emotional clutter to each other is that they all have different faces of the same thing: stuck energy.
Take for example, that tea set that you inherited from your grandmother that you don’t love but feel duty-bound to keep because “that’s what we do” in this family. The tea set is physically taking up space in your dining room, gathering dust bunnies as we speak. Add to that a layer of “should” and a layer of guilt –– that somehow letting go of this heirloom would be disrespectful to the memory of your grandmother and family history –– and you’ve just piled on mental and emotional clutter on top of those dust bunnies.
There is always some level of mental or emotional clutter associated with the physical. The good news is that when you focus on clearing one, you effectively clear the other. There is no separation.
What are the positive results that could come from clearing your clutter?
There are no downsides to clutter clearing. Truly. That’s because I see it more as a journey of self-discovery and personal transformation rather than an onerous task that we need to complete by a certain deadline. Seeing it in that light changes the game for good.
Continue reading Stephanie’s insight in Part 2 of this blog post.Start your clearing journey