Deeper Perception Made Practical

Tidying up Just Enough? RES Perspective on Marie Kondo's Bestselling Method

Too much shopping, too much tossing -- can there be problems either way?

Too much shopping, too much tossing — can there be problems either way?

On Black Friday, how many people will be buying “The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo?

I wonder, and not just because I have an eye for irony.

“Black Friday” is, of course, a post-post-modern American tradition, where you start Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving Day and go at it full force on the following day (which is always a Friday). Then binge-shop for several more days, merrily scooping up bargains as you go.

This year it is estimated that 135.8 million consumers may shop between Thanksgiving Day and through the weekend until “Cyber Monday” (when the shopping goes online).

What, is one of America’s loveliest holidays — our collective day of gratitude — really becoming the day to go out and shop ’till you drop?”

Gotta love Earth School, right? Because we spiritual idealists might have to weep if we didn’t sometimes remember to laugh.

Owning Too Much Versus

An Even More Revolting Choice

Renunciate-Type Austerity as an Alleged Upgrade to Householder Life

There it is, my blog theme for today.

What introduced me to this theme? It happened long before Thanksgivingeve. I was helping my client Gladys by cutting her cord of attachment to Marie Kondo, the highly influential author. Which is how I first learned directly about her immaculate blockbuster, “The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up.

Gladys gave me permission to write about that cord of attchment here at the blog. I’ll save that gem for a follow-up post. Today I would just like to give my perspective about this particular system for tidying up. What could be the unintended consequence?

Of course, Blog-Buddies, it would be great if you supplement my thoughts with your firsthand knowledge of trying Marie Kondo’s method. Please add your comments below or even  send a guest post. I’m sure curious, and others will be too, surely.

After doing the session with Gladys, I did have a look at the very appealing book and it’s very appealing premise.

Before going further, let’s go to a fundamental question…

Are You a Saver or a Tosser?

I’m definitely a tosser, somebody who relishes getting rid of what isn’t really needed any more.

I toss cords of attachment, for instance. As you may know. And as you may also know, if you have read “Hands of Light” by Barbara Brennan, that world-renowned energy healer gives instructions for detaching cords of attachment, cleaning them up, and then reinserting them.

A brilliant expert at Energy Medicine but not necessarily emotional and spiritual growth (i.e., Energy Spirituality), Brennan also writes that most cords of attachment go into the solar plexus chakra. (??? Really?  Not my experience, working in RES)

Another non-RES perspective about cutting cords of attachment from Barbara Brennan: If you’re curious about what a cord contains, your best bet is to study Transactional Analysis.

Anyway, I’m clearly more of a tosser than Barbara Brennan when it comes to cords of attachment, and many other things as well. I’m a cheerful tosser in many respects. Although of course I have married an extreme saver and our son is a big saver too. Haha. I’m sure not tossing either one of these guys. Ever!

So I have learned perspective on both perennial extremes, saver and tosser. I’ve lived through many degrees of compromise (and anguish) related to tidying and tossing. Why wouldn’t this be a problem for just about anyone who lives as a householder.

We householderes don’t live the perfectionistic alternative, renunciate life.

There’s a sparse beauty to that spiritual lifestyle: Living alone in one’s tiny room in the monastery or ashram, with something religious on otherwise bare walls, nothing much to wear, so few material posessions, and the bare minimum of… physical anything.

Maybe one pure white candle. What else does one need?

Really, what IS a householder to do when there are just soooooo many things? If you have any perfectionistic tendencies at all regarding material possessions, how tempting it could be to seek out a magical way to tidy up, once and for all?

When I Looked Over Marie Kondo’s Book

Of course I had to! Starting with the very attractive author photo.

Cute! Smart! So appealing, that Marie Kondo!

Only you know me, Blog-Buddies. I used some of my daily Technique Time to research her aura from that picture. Uh-oh!

Long story short: Very longstanding spiritual addiction.

And when I skim-read her book, it became pretty obvous why.

What could be a problem with the “revolutionary KonMari Method for simplifying, organizing, and storing”?

The KonMari Method for Moving into Spiritual Addiction

A tidy home is the goal of course, not moving into the consciousness lifestyle of spiritual addiction.

Yet I’ll tell you this. If you go through Marie Kondo’s method step by step, it reads like a step-by-step primer with a very effective method for moving into spiritual addiction. No wonder Marie Kondo boasts that once people go through her method they permanently have a different lifestyle, and never again lapse into untidiness.

I won’t go through specifics of her method here. For one thing, I don’t mean to set myself up as a cleaning expert. As if!

Sure you “could eat off my kitchen floor.” But not in a good way. 😉

Also, I have far too much respect for the hard-won intellectual property of my fellow writers to take an original system and attempt to summarize it.

Instead I’ll give you just one example.

  • Following the KonMari method, you must put all your clothing on the floor. Dump it right down. Every single garment, without exception.
  • Then you physically pick up one item at a time.
  • As you touch it, you go within and notice the “important part” which is how it makes you feel.
  • Does this particular object bring you spiritual joy?
  • If not, throw it away.
  • Don’t give it away, either. Immediately dump that useless garbage-like thing into the trash.

Why is that procedure a problem for consciousness lifestyle? Because for hours a person is locked into Technique Time, transferring loyalty away from very human ways of thinking about material objects (like “Why would I wear that sweater?” and “What is my personal history with that sweater?” and “Does that sweater make me look NOT fat?”)

No, it’s the energy that matters.

And when something fails the standard for perfect energy, just throw it away? Euwwwww!

If you happen to own a copy of this book, you might find it interesting to go through Marie Kondo’s entire method that way. I think you’ll find that every single component creates a switch of loyalty away from human objective reality and towards spiritual perfectionism.

Uh-oh indeed!

Usually I Love Books about Cleaning and Tidying

I don’t mean to sound like a grumpus, especially on the day before Thanksgiving. So I’ll hasten to add that I celebrate most books and authors designed to help folks like me not act like slobs.

From Thrill Your Soul Aura Reading Research, I can tell you that if I just spent one hour a day polishing silver, my High Heart Chakra Databank for Soul Thrill would be working great.

And what was my favorite present from 2014, both birthday and Christmas and wedding anniversary? Hands down, it was the blue plastic clothes-foldey gadget that I saw on “The Big Bang Theory” TV show. Mitch and I would laugh about that gizmo when it came up in different episodes, and I guess I said (without ever meaning to hint), “I sure wish I had something like that.”

I thought it was something just made for TV, like Penny’s fetching hairstyles. 😉

Well, my thoughtful husband found it. And bought it for me. That lovely contraption has become a favorite toy.

(Just in case any of you Blog-Buddies needed further evidence that this fancy Enlightenment Coach is just as weird as any other human being.)

Also, one of my favorite books from last year was a how-to by Jolie Kerr, “My Boyfriend Barfed in My Handbag . . . and Other Things You Can’t Ask Martha.”  Not only did I purchase this book for myself; I gave it as a gift, too.

There’s Jolie, so obviously a down-to-earth woman, funny, caring about people, and full of gusto. Just as some folks like to read “Food porn” (Cookbooks) or “Travel porn” (Books in the travel writing genre), I am such a sucker for “Cleaning and Tidying Porn.”

Only I’m not a big fan of any methods that inadvertently shift people into spiritual addiction.

In conclusion, from my perspective, Marie Kondo has a great sweetness and great originality — also effectiveness — in the service of a renunciate-flavored version of householder life. Understandably, her kind of magic is appealing to people now.

But might I suggest? Pursue this particular form of magic at your peril, Blog-Buddies. Tomorrow and the days to follow, you don’t have to focus your life on either tossing or saving or accumulating. One idea? Giving thanks for all the goodness in your life.

Tomorrow, Blog-Buddies, I’ll be giving thanks for you.

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  1. 1
    Kira says:

    Interesting! And I am very much a saver. You could probably tell that just from the part of my room you can see via Skype.

  2. 2
    Tricia says:

    I have been using this method for a bit off and on. As part of that, I’ve joined a fb group for people who are interested in Kondo-ing their possessions. It’s interesting to me to see what people do with it – some people take it to mean that they need to shift to a very minimalistic lifestyle, giving away most of what they own. They fret and fuss and look everything over multiple times, trying to do it “perfectly.” I guess what I have taken away from it, that feels very helpful to me, is to ask the question “does this bring me joy?” As a result of that, I’ve been able to give away many things that I did not like or use, but that I thought I “should” keep because they belong to Great-Uncle George, or because a certain person had given them to me.

  3. 3
    Tricia says:

    I also became aware of what I really needed in terms of clothes, decorations, etc. and realized that I had much more than I would/could ever use.

  4. 4
    Tricia says:

    At the end of last year, when I looked over lists of what I had donated, I realized how many of the things I had put off giving away because I was sure that I would need or miss it, I hadn’t even thought about since they left my house.

  5. 5

    TRICIA, thank you for sharing what has worked for you.

    And it’s certainly lovely to encounter you here at the blog. Your first comments here, yes?

    Might I ask, what about your vigorous experience of life now? So far you have commented only in terms of tossing. What are you as a person doing better now?

  6. 6

    Also, I can’t resist making this bit of follow-up as well. Not as an expert on Marie Kondo’s work but because (as you may know) I run a Facebook group for empaths.

    When there is a FB group devoted to a person’s work, it can easily go out of control. And that’s even when you, the originator of the work, are going there just about every day and doing what you can to keep that FB group focused on its distinctive purpose.

  7. 7

    So I’m curious, TRICIA, about these people at the FB group who are interested in Kondo-ing their possessions.

    Are they actually doing what Marie Kondo insists is necessary? To use her method all at one go?

    Or are they doing exactly what she warns people against doing? Which is “I’ll do a little today. Then think about it. Then do a little more.”

    Seems to me, her recommended “all in one go” ordeal is more likely to lead to spiritual addiction. But that second way could do it too, for many people.

  8. 8
    Emily says:

    Ah jeez, Totally bought this book and immediately went though like most of my many books. I have always loved cleaning, tidying and decluttering so it really appealed to me.

    I have got rid of my old psychology and philosophy textbooks. I did however resist applying the method to my clothes. Even with the books, I didn’t stop to “feel joy” but I did feel it gave me free licence to donate all those books I’d kept but never wanted to read again (or ever!).

    Ahhhh Earth School 🙂

  9. 9
    Emily says:

    I tend to go through all my things on a regular basis in any case. I loved tidying things out when I was little. I remember the specific moment when my teacher at school got us to clean out our school bags and I thought “why do I have all this rubbish in there?!”.

    It also relates (I think) to having a smaller living space. I have two rooms to store all my things so I like to make the most of it.

  10. 10
    Emily says:

    So I don’t think I was following her method exactly. I was just amping up my usual process. In fact, the last time I did a big tidy up before summer I was annoyed I had nothing to give to the charity shop!

  11. 11
    Irene Kr says:

    I read this book awhile back. I was already in spiritual addiction at the time so it didn’t have any direct bearing on that. Even in that state, I couldn’t get the point of why I’d want to do it all in one go or why I should “feel the energy” of the object. So I didn’t ever try to follow the actual Kondo method.

  12. 12
    Irene Kr says:

    What I did find helpful was similar to what Tricia mentions at the end of comment #2 – asking myself why I was keeping this particular thing.

    Was it because I thought I “should”, thinking it might be useful later or keeping it in memory of someone I care about.

    Or was it because I wanted to have the object and it was attractive and/or useful in my present-day life.

  13. 13
    Irene Kr says:

    That question meant I passed along a lot of things I wasn’t using and didn’t actually want to have cluttering up my space (and clogging up my storage). I chose to spotlight and purchase a few things that just make me smile every time I see/use them.

    I made connections with people who appreciated getting the things and spaces where I can find what I need when I need it so I don’t have to keep it “just in case”. I’m also less hoard-y and more generous, which I like.

  14. 14
    Irene Kr says:

    But I would like to emphasize that I never did follow the Kondo method and, if I ever did feel the need to do energetic research about what I own, I’d choose something more precise.

  15. 15
    Isabella C. says:

    Interesting! I read her book and really liked it, and thought she came across as such a sweet person.

  16. 16
    Isabella C. says:

    Though I did quickly recognize the BIG potential for Spiritual Addiction if you followed her method exactly as she describes, and *especially* if you tried to emulate her relationship with things.

  17. 17
    Isabella C says:

    She describes her spiritual addiction-y relationship with things, like knowing their wants and needs, communicating with them all the time, knowing how they feel, etc.

  18. 18
    Isabella C. says:

    It’s really sweet and I didn’t doubt her honesty. But I did seriously doubt how healthy it would be to attempt to live that way all the time, knowing what I (luckily) know about Spiritual Addiction.

    It is a recipe for that imbalance. (One of many recipes!)

  19. 19
    Isabella C. says:

    I am definitely a tosser and got rid of a lot of things after reading the book.

    Actually, too much.

    I felt a kind of pain after I gave a bunch of things a way. Ouch! Oops! I still wanted those things! I stopped following the method then.

  20. 20
    Isabella C. says:

    Thanks for your perspective on this, Rose.

  21. 21

    Hi Rose,

    I was surprised to read this! We have had great success with KonMarie in our house.

  22. 22

    However, reading your critique, it occurred to me that there were many ways in which we unconsciously softened the more damaging excesses of the method, in the way we applied it in our house.

  23. 23

    Regarding the sorting method, I didn’t really do it as written.

    On reflection, my version was to pick up each object and just decide whether or not I still wanted it (rather than focusing on the energetic reaction it provoked).

    Did I still like it and/or would I still use it?

  24. 24

    I didn’t dump all my clothes on the floor – in retrospect that seemed aggressive enough to ignore.

    And anything I thought might possibly be of use to someone else, that I didn’t want, I did not throw out. I either sold it or gave it to charity.

  25. 25

    In terms of what we are doing better now – cleaning the house is now a lot easier.

    We have a small place, and just not having to constantly move so many objects to clean around them has dramatically sped up the cleaning process.

    It’s also now easier to find things.

  26. 26

    Also, next time we move house will be easier, cheaper and faster, having much less to pack up and haul.

    I do see what you mean, though – there is a brutal austerity to her method as written.

  27. 27

    And I agree about the dangers for people who would attempt to follow it to the letter.

    Quite sad to read about Ms Kondo’s spiritual addiction. I hope she gets through it ok.

  28. 28

    I hope for the best and expect it, too, ADAM. Yes, ISABELLA C., I totally agree with you about Marie Kondo’s sweetness.

    Speaking of sweet, thanks to all of you who have shared your experiences here.

    An education for me, to be sure.

  29. 29
    Isabella C. says:

    I also really like her folding method (found some videos on Youtube which demonstrated it). I do find that it is quite nice and satisfying…

    Like not rolling socks up in a ball but folding them flat. It does look really beautiful in the drawer.

  30. 30
    Isabella C. says:

    I did follow her recommendation as far as piling all clothes on the floor, starting with shirts and so on.

    What I liked about it was getting rid of stuff I didn’t really like or ever wear, intentionally making room for purchasing something that I do really like and would really wear to fill in the gap.

    Perhaps one nice thing to replace 3 or 4 ‘meh’ things.

  31. 31
    Isabella C. says:

    What I didn’t like is that her method is quite ruthless and as I have learned so well to respect expert teachers, I went back and forth a bit about how ruthless to be.

  32. 32
    Isabella C. says:

    In the end I went a bit too far (according to my own standards), while simultaneously feeling like I hadn’t gone far enough (according to Marie Kondo’s standards).


  33. 33
    Jnana says:

    Giving away and selling off stuff are acceptable forms of throwing out stuff in the Kondo method.

  34. 34
    Jnana says:

    I ‘Kondo-ed’ a shelf of my wardrobe. There was no need to decide what to throw because everything had to be kept. (I do not like things. I always think twice before buying anything)

    I just love how that shelf looks with everything folded the Kondo way. Such an aesthetic pleasure.

  35. 35
    Jnana says:

    Marie Kondo taught me how to throw things that I did not need away.
    There were a few things in my home that I was never going to use again but were not fit for the bin nor could be given away.

    There were a source of pain every time I looked at them. Marie gave me permission to throw them out. Such happiness I felt once they were gone.

  36. 36
    Jnana says:

    But she may have awakened the tosser in me.
    (I did a lot of tossing when young and got into a lot of trouble with the savers in the family.)

    After the initial tossing, I found myself contemplating tossing out a lot more things, some of which were newly bought.

  37. 37
    Jnana says:

    I tire of things fast so only keeping things that sparked joy would have been a recipe for disaster.

    I’m glad I had a timely reminder to do things my way. Marie Kondo when modified to suit my needs would make for a very pleasant journey to clutter-free living.

  38. 38
    Irene Kr says:

    So interesting to read everyone’s experiences with this!

    I seem to recall something about a recommendation in this book to do the task of deciding whether or not to keep the object separate from the task of organizing it (deciding where to keep something and how to make sure it was accessible when needed). That concept was useful to me and something I hadn’t thought of before.

  39. 39
    Irene Kr says:

    However, when I look back on what I did with this book, I took a couple of ideas that made sense to me and that inspired some positive action in my life. Then I disregarded the rest (most of the book and almost all of the recommended method).

    Which basically means that while I got some value from it, this isn’t a book I’d recommend to others, particularly since as Rose points out here the focus of the actual method hugely overdoes technique time.

  40. 40
    Nicci says:

    I looked into this, but when I read the reviews of the book about talking to your socks, constantly expressing gratitude your possessions, and worrying about whether your handbag feels stressed and bloated at the end of the day, I realised the potential for spiritual addiction.
    I did have a big clearout after finding out about the book, but I didn’t follow her method.

    That said, I love the folding technique. I don’t think Marie Kondo invented that. Ive only done it to 3 drawers, but I really like how easy it is now to find the item I am looking for.

  41. 41
    Primmie says:

    There are no tossers at this blog. In the UK it is a rather, erm, rude insult.

  42. 42
    Kylie says:

    One other thought: in hindsight, I totally thought that my failure to achieve certain results (a better love life, better finances) had to do with my failure to correctly follow the book’s prescriptions. It never occurred to me to doubt the efficacy of the method!!

  43. 43
    Grace W says:

    I read this book shortly after it came out in English and have found using it to finish clearing out unwanted things from my small apartment to be a practical, illuminating, grounding experience.

    I was actually baffled by your post, Rose.

    My takeaways from using the method seem to be quite different.

  44. 44
    Grace W says:

    Certain types of stress have disappeared from my life as a result of using this approach, like scrambling to find keys, phone, etc., while leaving for work.

    Basically, I know what I have, my things have a place where they belong and I clean up as I go so that clutter doesn’t develop.

  45. 45
    Grace W says:

    I don’t do so well with lots of clutter. My apartment is cozy and serene and not at all some kind of sterile ascetic monkish kind of place.

    I did not take away that that would be the goal of using the method. My takeaway was to have stuff around that you like.

  46. 46
    Grace W says:

    I went through my clothes as suggested, putting everything in a pile on the floor.

    I don’t get what the big deal is about that. It made it easier to go through everything in one fell swoop and be done with it.

    I had fun with it.

  47. 47
    Grace W says:

    I didn’t interpret the instructions for going through clothes as being hugely focused on energy somehow. Not at all.

    I just tried things on and decided if they fit, flatter me, and if I like them. If not, I either sold them at my consignment store or donated them.

  48. 48
    Grace W says:

    What I really like and what actually contributes to a feeling of contentment is that all my clothes have a place to be and my drawers and closet now store things comfortably.

    I like the folding technique and store all my shirts in drawers, as she suggests.

  49. 49
    Grace W says:

    Taking care of my things and creating a logical, practical system for storing them has helped me feel grounded and focused on my human life.

  50. 50
    Grace W says:

    I don’t really get the need to be joining a related group of any kind.

    Another takeaway that I appreciated was to just use the technique and be done with it, which is what I did.

  51. 51
    Amanda says:

    I haven’t got the book and in fact had never heard of it, but I do love a good clearout every now and again. I’m sure it’s instinctive.

  52. 52
    Amanda says:

    A long time ago I got really into Denise Linn and feng shui and the energy of the house was the most important thing about it. Shortly after that I did go into spiritual addiction. Energy was the only thing that mattered for a few months, and I felt TERRIBLE.

  53. 53
    Amanda says:

    The only time I’ve ever been really ruthless about being clean was a time of high anxiety – moving house and getting a new partner after years.

    I think it was a way of controlling life – if my house is tidy I won’t feel anxious.

  54. 54
    Amanda says:

    Looking back on it now it was all very odd and highly unlike me. It was a good feeling to know where everything was though!

    Things have gone back to normal – my happy state is that I like a bit of creative mess but the important things need to be reasonably clean.

    What a good post to read today. I have a day free and one of my plans is clean the house!


  55. 55
    Kylie says:

    Interesting post and comments! I leafed through this book and read parts of it, because I too love books on this subject, and I wanted to know if it was a good book to recommend for others.

  56. 56
    Kylie says:

    I’m not sure why, but after reading just a bit here and there of Marie Kondo’s book, I disliked her style too much to continue.

    I felt like something was off with her personally, and suspected spiritual addiction.

  57. 57
    Kylie says:

    In 2001 I read a book on feng shui. I took away the message from that book that having areas in your house filled with clutter, broken objects, unloved stuff, unorganized stuff related to stagnant areas of personal growth, to confusion and clutter in that area of your life.

  58. 58
    Kylie says:

    You would not believe how quickly and enthusiastically I got rid of stuff I don’t like and don’t use (especially in the “romance” section of my apartment)

    I also put effort into beautifying my home, especially those areas of my home that corresponded to romance and wealth.

  59. 59
    Kylie says:

    That book was the start of a whole lot of personal growth for me, and I’ll always be grateful. It changed the way I live, permanently.

    At the time, I noticed a huge improvement in my mental clarity. My objective reality functioning did improve.

  60. 60
    Kylie says:

    It was also really profound for me because it got me to focus on intentions for my life.

    “I’m cleaning up the family room because I want a better relationship with my mom.”

    As part of that I called my mother, found out she had a health crisis and needed my help.

    The book encouraged taking action to change your life.

  61. 61
    Kylie says:

    In looking back there were also ways it could have encouraged spiritual addiction.

    I’d no doubt have done a lot better to have focused directly on making changes in those areas of my life, rather than changing the areas of my apartment that symbolically represented those areas:-)

  62. 62
    Kylie says:

    I did a whole lot of unnecessary worrying about the bagua of a house plan and how it related to my life.

    It is also true that the feng shui did nothing for my love life or my finances.

  63. 63
    Kylie says:

    In retrospect, I definitely focused more on the “stuff-removal” aspect of the method than on the “put in” of decorating. Ha ha!

    Not that I think the method would have worked had I done it perfectly. I know now that what I needed was a different kind of stuff removal and put in 🙂

  64. 64
    Kylie says:

    One thing the book made me aware of is how much the beauty or lack of beauty of my surroundings affects me, and how I can purposefully choose to bring more beauty into my life.

  65. 65
    Kylie says:

    One lasting good result: now, there is nothing in my apartment I don’t have a good reason for keeping.

    I also know where everything is and how to find it.

    I routinely give my shopping mistakes away to a charitable organization. I love living this way.

  66. 66
    Kylie says:

    One other thought: in hindsight, I totally thought that my failure to achieve results (a better love life, better finances) had to do with my failure to correctly follow the book’s prescriptions.

    It never occurred to me to doubt the efficacy of the method!!

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