Photo by Amanda Painter.

I always see articles and videos this time of year about clearing clutter as part of a January / New Year “refresh” to make a living space easier to live in. It got me thinking about **internal** clutter, and how debilitating it used to be for me.

By my mid to late 30s, I’d been involved in breathwork, regular talk therapy, and a short stint on an antidepressant — each of which had helped me to begin sorting out, and healing, various pieces of my inner puzzle. I was beginning to learn astrology and how to write about it while on the job at Planet Waves, and I was finally beginning to experience a sense of purpose in work that was making use of my talents and growing my skills — a real “career” type job.

Facets of my life that had been stuck and stagnant for a long time were finally beginning to open up and function better.


Certain personal relationships often were still fraught, marked by emotional reactivity on both sides, guilt trips, email exchanges and phone calls that spiraled off into psychological abuse, insecurity and jealousy, and so on. It was a mess, and it was exhausting.

I realized that I needed to explore other forms of healing. Even though it does indeed take two to tango, I needed help, and I was the only part of the equation I had any possible control over.

I encountered the work of a woman named Elisa Novick whose approach called to me, even as a part of me was a little skeptical of some of what she wrote. I wasn’t someone who had grown up learning about karma, about other forms of consciousness, or about the ways that our own healing work can ripple out — both in obvious, tangible ways, as we make better choices, and in subtle, energetic ways.

Although I don’t recall Elisa ever using this term, we embarked on a long-term process of identifying and clearing a shit-ton of “inner clutter”: the “stuff” from early childhood and all the years since that I’d picked up unconsciously and stored in my psyche, in my body, in my energetic fields, but which was not actually mine to carry. Even “clutter” unintentionally handed down through the generations by my ancestors. We also worked on karma from past lives (I’m not sure if karma counts as “clutter,” but it does represent the consequences of a soul’s journey, and consequences must be dealt with eventually).

All of that “stuff” was taking up so much room in me, “I” was not at all in my center. I was barely in my own body, despite thinking I must surely be quite embodied given how physically active I was — an actor and a dancer.

Layer by layer, we worked — sometimes encountering new versions of the same lessons if they were especially entrenched, compounded over the years or over many lifetimes.

Slowly but surely, I became better able to maintain my center and developed stronger inner boundaries. I began to make new choices — sometimes, scary choices — and meet much healthier results. My relationships became exponentially less reactive, less marked by blowback and dysfunction and internalized guilt — and more balanced and enjoyable. My sense of self-worth recovered from years of erosion.

I realized that the more I was able to occupy my own center, the less room there was for “inner clutter.” That in turn meant there were fewer places where others’ psychic or energetic hooks could land and pull me out of myself, whether the other person was conscious of them or not.

Eventually, I decided to learn from Elisa how to use many of the key tools and techniques I was experiencing as a client — and which I am now offering as a practitioner, seeking to empower others to identify and clear their own “inner clutter.”

Just like physical clutter in my home, keeping my inner space free of spiritual and emotional clutter takes some regular maintenance. But holy cow, that feels SO much simpler now than it used to. I still experience times of sadness, pain, anger, moments when I don’t react the way I’d like, frustration; I still struggle sometimes. That’s part of being human.

But it’s just such a relief to feel so much more at home within myself, more consistently joyful, and to have the tools to find my way back there if I really get thrown for a loop.

Now, about these piles of papers surrounding my work desk… 😆😬🙄

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