Self Care Practices

Natural Order

Natural OrderNatural Order

Thursday, 7th March 2013

Here’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time, a practice that I have a hard time, well, practicing.

Putting things back.

That’s it. So basic yet so impossible on a daily basis, which is probably why I feel shame around it. In fact, I vacillate between acknowledging my real problem with returning things to their upright and locked positions and denying it’s an issue at all. Actually, I’ve been procrastinating about sharing this part about me. So to warm up, I’d like to start off with my justifications of why I don’t put things back, why this is a stupid, pointless exercise, and why I should be excused from having to participate in it. Forever. (If I forget any, please add yours.)

  1. Putting things back will take up too much of my precious time.
  2. I don’t care.
  3. It’s not my mess.
  4. I don’t know where to put the stupid thing.
  5. I don’t have time to process it.
  6. I don’t like doing this.
  7. I have NO IDEA where to begin.
  8. What’s the point again?
  9. There are other more pressing things to tend to.
  10. I’ll get to it later. Promise.

There you have it -- my resistance to putting things back, the unadulterated version. I will say that I really do love when things are in order – I feel disproportionately wholesome as a result. I become creative. I feel grounded. I forget my worries. Really. So if I like it so much, then what’s been holding me back?

In an effort to find out, I wrote myself a letter. You are welcome to read over my shoulder.

Dear Self,

Space is a reflection of mind. When something is not in its home, a teeny part of you too is not in your home. And on days that you feel cruddy it could be because your space is not playing the major chord you know it can. Instead, a disharmonic melody is looping and only you can hear it like a dogs’ whistle or the electric fence. When things are out of order, you are off your game and dominated by stuff.

How you relate to your home is a mirror to how you relate to your world. There is natural hierarchy. And when you disrupt this, you will become a miserable person. But since you’re probably already here, or already feeling somewhat bleh, all I can saw is start right where you are.

Clean up after supper instead of piling the dishes in the sink. Return the books to the shelf instead of leaving them sitting on the table. Hang the jacket on the hook. Put the clothes in the hamper. Put the shoes on the rack. Toss out the wrappers. Put the creamer back in the fridge. Close your notebook when you’re done. Put your computer to sleep. Throw out the junk mail as soon as you get it.

Taking care of your space is about living in a natural order. If you want to see the sky where do you look? That’s right – up. What if the sky decided one day not to be there. What then? It would be a chaotic day searching for the sky only to find bits of it strewn around the floor, stashed away in the closet, and forgotten under the stairs. Because the sky is in its natural place, you can celebrate its basic goodness. You can trust in the goodness of the sky.

Putting things back is more than just hygiene. It’s about creating sacredness. No matter how much or little you have – the way you engage home is how you engage life. When you put things back, you clear obstacles. The path opens. You tune into harmony.  

In the Buddhist tradition, teachers turn over their teacups in the evening so that if they should die overnight, there would be no mess for someone else to clean up. And I guess that’s the point. When we let things pile up or leave things lying about, it’s like we’re saying someone else will clean up my mess. It’s not my job. Not me.

But you are the ruler. You have been elected. You are the one. If you can do this with a pair of shoes, a jacket, and a teacup, then you can do this with absolutely anything. Everything has its place. This is empowerment. Put things back.


Denmo is the founder and CEO of Earthbody. She is a writer, artist, therapist, and coach. You can reach Denmo This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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