Last spring while I was in a yoga class, the song, “Hearts A Mess” by Gotye came on. And it struck me that I was right there with him: my heart was literally a junkyard of broken bits.
When people talk about tidying up, immediately thoughts fly to the home: desks cluttered with unopened mail, drawers filled with messy receipts, closets that seems to vomit forth clothes you can’t remember ever wearing.
We buy magazines that tell us how to de-clutter our home to help keep us sane and happy. They tell us we’ll breathe easier after hauling 20-gallon trash bags worth of useless items to the curb. We’re better people now that we’ve rid ourselves of all that physical clutter.
But what we rarely stop to consider is the wreckage of our past, as it remains cluttered in our hearts. The relationship that never quite died, the rejection letter that told you your work was not good enough, the person who told you your love was not quite right for them.
Whether it’s hardened the heart or left scar tissue that still seems sensitive to the touch, most of us carry this kind of garbage inside of us. Often we don’t know how to get rid of all of it, so it stays with us, year after year, like a box of old goods that never made it to the garage sale, no matter how hard others pushed us to let it go.
The clutter in your heart can literally kill you. There are studies about the effects of oxidative stress on the body, and that spending a lifetime mulling over the same pain — and continually adding new resentments to the heap — can cause a whole host of health issues. Whether you’re still pissed that Suzie pushed you down the hill in a tractor tire when you were five, to the man who more recently broke your heart — heart disease, cancer, a stroke; these illness can be, in part, a result of your inner clutter reaching critical mass.
If you don’t let go of the past, you can’t enjoy the present, and in turn, a happy future can be taken away from you. If you find yourself in a similar place, ask yourself: how many more years do I have to continue struggling with the same issues?
All of these thoughts occurred to me in the downward-facing dogs that followed over the next few weeks. As my yoga instructor played Gotye’s song in various parts of her playlist, I made up my mind to release one negative thing each time, to literally leave those memories on the mat. And so, with each meditative movement, I reached into that junk pile in my heart and let something go.
“I release you, I forgive you, I forgive myself,” I said in my mind, as I let each individual item go. I started the ritual during my yoga classes, and then started practicing it in the morning when I woke up and in the evening before I went to bed. Soon, it took on a life of its own: I was gleefully reaching in to my “heart”, purging it of past sadness and replacing it with forgiveness. I must have been saying my little mantra out loud in line to get coffee one morning, because the man behind me got really irritated and said, “What’d I do?”
“Nothing,” I replied, and then promptly forgave him, too.
I’m happy to report that after a year of this exercise, my heart’s a pretty clean place. Not everything is spic and span, but it’s been significantly downsized from a giant mover’s crate to a small trinket box. And I’m trying to keep it that way — to not pick up new resentments, as I just don’t have the room.
I love the cleaner, smoother heart I have now. I’m no longer drowning in the clutter of wrongdoings, mistakes and pain. I’m at peace. My heart is tidy, and the future looks brighter every day.