Tonight is garbage collection night. Driving along the street I noticed how my neighbours were neatly lining their garbage bins on the side of the road for collection tomorrow morning. It all looked so methodical and orderly. I am amazed at the routine and function of garbage collection as a service in any community. In suburbia and cities we often take it for granted that our waste can be so easily and conveniently discarded. It is almost as if out of sight, out of mind.
I know that there is a lot more to garbage collection than what we see in fron of our eyes. I used to be an auditor and one of my major clients was a waste management company in San Francisco. Yes I really enjoyed this job as I got to see the behind the scenes working of how garbage is collected, transferred and disposed of in communities.
So with this awareness and fresh observation I made a new link. Is there an equivalent to garbage collection, waste management, in the way we take care of ourselves on a mental, emotional, spiritual and physical level.
Now the obvious one is physical. I think this one is so obvious that I WON'T go there in this conversation. For those of you in the medical, healthcare, nursing or other professions, thank you for going there. Of course many of us know the virtues and benefits of a healthy diet and regularity. Perhaps you do the odd detox every once in awhile. You may also be aware of the benefits of massage and the way it can remove unwanted toxins that build up.
So on a physical level we take the garbage out but we have to be extremely conscious about it and have healthy patterns. The benefit of doing so is that we function fully, have high energy and capacity for living life and doing what we want.
Then there is the mental. For many of us our day is filled with thoughts, ideas, information. Now unless you are on a meditation retreat or a monk in a monastery you are not likely to spend your day free of thought. Therefore it becomes critical to raise your awareness of what goes on inside that head of yours. When you do you realise that your mental space may be taken up with negative or unproductive thoughts, ideas and information. Such mental baggage includes the self doubt, the voice of your inner critic, other people's "should" comments and various forms of negative self talk and beliefs. You may read something, see a news story on TV, participate in a conversation you don't like. Wham! Your mind has been infiltrated.
It is up to you to clear your mind and let go of what does not serve you. This is not as easy as it sound. However getting into practices that allow you do manage the mental will help. This is where taking out the garbage in the mind comes in. For me, waste management of your mind involves a daily practice. If though you don't get around to the daily practice please at least fit in a regular routine. What can you do? Lots. To name a few I would suggest meditation - whether guided by someone else, or you sitting in stillness practicing what comes intuitively. You can also use journal writing, creating artwork or other forms of 'getting the thoughts' out of you into another medium to be captured and then addressed outside of you. And if you are able to a good session with a coach, mentor or other trusted objective confidant will assist greatly. I am amazed at the number of times people say how good it is to say what they need to say out loud.
We next move to the emotional. For those of us who like to spend our time in the head, which is many of us, moving to this area will be challenging. For others it is normal and easy to express ourself emotionally. Irrespective as human beings we are prone to holding onto, bottling up or stifliing the expression of our true emotions. This will be either because of social convention, perhaps fear, lack of skill, lack of role models, non supportive environments - you name it - there are lots of challenges.
So the objective with emotionally taking out the garbage is we need to get them out so they don't stay in side. This means expression and release. In the moment is the word here. Where as clearing the mind might be a daily practice I believe clearing emotions needs to be as soon as they are experienced. Otherwise there is the accumulation of them and the challenge to let them go is even greater.
How to you ask? Well it is first necessary to ackowledge the emotion to yourself. This starts to name it and then contain it in a manageable sense. Then the next step may be to experience it at some level. Importantly though the release of the emotion is best when channelled constructively, as oppossed to destructively. Many of us mistake being honest and sharing our emotions however they arise as releasing them. I think this is great, its just a concern what the impact may be on the other person if directed to someone.
So I suggest outlets - eg sports, private yelling sessions, crying when you need to, sitting with the emotion in your own space, taking time out if you have to from the situation that is creating the emotion.
Not all situations are appropriate for such honesty. It is still important to find a time and place to let them come up and go.
Lastly we come to the spiritual. I include this aspect as it is what keeps us in balance and in alignment. When we don't take time out for this part of our life then we are incomplete. By spiritual I mean having a sense of experiencing wonder, mystery and higher levels of consciousness in our world. We can express this in a variety of ways - all personal. Some traditional, some quite unconventional. The main thing is we all need some form of outlet that enlivens us, ignites our spirit and passion so we stay fully alive.
When we talk about removing waste in a spirtual sense we can go into entire areas such as healing, motivational practices, ritual. The key thing here is to have a regular practice that touches us at a deep level and engenders purpose and meaning in our life. We will know because the part of us that comes alive fills us with joy and happiness. The more we fill with joy and happiness the more we push out other experiences that hold us back.
So next time you take your garbage out remember to consider your own personal waste management routine. How are you looking after your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being?
If you don't take the garbage out pretty soon you will be living and working in a pretty big stinky mess!
Let's go there...