Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Hoarding Workshop - Now that's Some Real "Living Yoga"

So this is maybe a longer story than just a blogpost but here's where I'm at. I'm in the middle of an 8-week "De-Cluttering Workshop" as the "guest" of someone who has identified themselves as someone who perhaps lives in what some people might call a "hoarded environment."

(My boyfriend is a hoarder. Or has been, up until recently.)

Okay, I have to fill you in a bit more so here goes. When I met Steve two and a half years ago we connected instantly and can remember the moment we first saw each other. We spent lots of time together and he started coming over to my place and hanging out. My sister said what's his place like and I said I didn't know I hadn't ever been inside and she threw out the phrase that hadn't even crossed my mind, "maybe he's a hoarder."

"Hey Steve, I was talking to my sister and she said maybe the reason I haven't ever been over to your place is because your a hoarder, ha ha ha." Silence. And to this day he recalls how he knew me well enough by then to know that a deal breaker would be lying, so he said something like, "yea, well, that's maybe one way to describe it, she has a point, heh, heh."

So we broke up. And obviously things happened to bring us closer together and there's more to the story...

Without going into the gory details, we have had a great relationship but how we did it was we had most of our relationship at my house and he kept his place mainly to himself until he was ready to do something about it.

That time came two months ago. Steve gave notice to his landlord and said he wanted to move out at the end of May. The pressure was on. I asked him if he was sure, could he do this, did he need to rent some space because he could see those things he'd been saving were not going to have room at my little place.

We had already established that it was probably better for our relationship for me to not be the one to help him sort through his stuff. Over the past couple of years when I went over there it was not good. Recently, he had an amazing friend help him do the daunting task of actually going through the stuff a bit at a time over eight weeks and making progress rather than tossing everything out, which we learned would be dangerous. I found I could be supportive from home and not have to go in and get upset by the space, because it was upsetting to me almost every time I went over.

In the meantime, I saw an ad for a Hoarding Support Group in the paper. I let Elaine Birchall know that Steve had already given notice so we were maybe a bit further along but she said it would still be helpful and we signed up. The Hoarding Support Group consists of a dozen or so people who have identified themselves as having a clutter problem and if they have someone who can be of help to them, those people are there too, for no extra charge.

We started a month ago and every week I want to jump up and down and say "do you guys know you're doing yoga?!?" To take a look at our lives and to take steps to create alignment that will allow the flow of energy and bring people into our space - there's yoga there. Taking a look at our objects and our attachment to them - that's yoga. Seeing how the false sense of comfort we get from our belongings that will deteriorate over time is holding us back in living our lives fully - that's yoga!

Sometimes I meet people who ask me if my boyfriend does yoga. He doesn't do yoga postures so much, but is he a yogi? Has he walked the path of looking at his life and bringing himself into greater alignment? Absolutely.

May 31st has come and gone and Steve's place is empty. Value Village has loads more things to sell and there's a lovely apartment for rent along the canal in Ottawa. A quiet miracle has happened to a special man in my life and I'm thrilled for him and inspired by the massive change that has come about through his transformation (he read Anthony De Mello's The Way to Love daily throughout all of this).

I love it when people take a look at their lives and see what's there. Every time, something good comes from it. I've never seen people take a look at their lives and have bad things happen from it. So whether it's Landmark Education workshops or Makata Living Yoga programs or Hoarding Support groups, I find yoga in wonderful, messy, human places and it lifts me up, inspiring me to keep looking at my life and shed light on the dusty, dark places in my own world.

(The images are from a sheet Elaine passed around at one of our last workshop sessions. It was used to rate your spaces. She has lots of tools!)