How Declutter Is Like A School Bully

A student once went to a wise master to learn about Zen. “Sure, let’s talk about this over some tea,” the master said, greeting him. He poured the student a cup of tea and continued to pour until the cup was full. The student stood there watching the spilling tea for a while, unsure what to do. But he couldn’t stand it any longer. “Stop! Stop pouring tea. You’re squandering it all.” “You’re like this cup of tea,” the teacher said as he came to a halt and looked at the student. You’re already stuffed. You already have a preconceived notion of Zen, so no matter what I tell you, it will not fit. Go fill your cup and return when it’s empty.”

How to Clean Your Cup
This is an old story, but the moral is still relevant today. In the modern world, the cup represents our mind. It’s already full, but we continue to fill it with distractions, advertisements, and clutter. Our minds are constantly overflowing. That is why we are unable to concentrate. That’s why we experience brain fog. As a result, we must clear our minds of chaos and confusion. We must empty the cup and refill it with nourishing, satisfying tea. Apologies for the delay. Because minimalism, whether physical, digital, or mental, isn’t about having fewer possessions. It’s all about being deliberate with your life. It comes down to deciding what is most important. So, here are four simple techniques for decluttering (and replenishing) your mind.

  1. Take a Walk and Talk
    Long walks are one of my favourite pastimes. There are no distractions. There are no obligations. It was just me and the trail. This habit is deeply cleansing on its own, but it became even more potent when I discovered the walk and talk technique. The concept is straightforward. Take a walk, and instead of listening to music or podcasts, observe your thoughts and record them verbally. It’s similar to vocal journaling. What’s the big advantage? Speaking is much faster than writing, which alleviates the impatience that can accompany traditional journaling. But the results are the same: you state your thoughts clearly instead of allowing them to bounce around in your head like a hyperactive bouncy ball. This is how I do it:
  • Make time for uninterrupted alone time.
  • Take a walk, preferably in the woods. (Of course, you can also curl up inside.) Then, observe your mind with child-like curiosity and see what blobs to the surface.
  • Begin a voice recording as soon as you notice an unresolved issue or an interesting thought. (Most phones have an integrated app for this. Look for “Voice Memos” or “Voice Recorder.”
  • Whatever comes to mind, say it. (Don’t worry if it feels strange at first; it will become second nature.)

I can’t tell you how much mental space this technique has given me. It is, in the most literal sense, self-help. Will I ever go through my tapes? I’m not sure. But that’s beside the point. The point is that you have an honest conversation with yourself, unearth your deepest fears, and gain new perspectives.

  1. Download Your Mind
    When you’re short on time, this is an excellent tool for clearing your mind. I do this almost every day before bed or when I’m so overwhelmed that I can’t think straight. All you need is a pen and a piece of paper. Make a mental note of everything that comes to mind. It could be to-dos, things you’re worried about, a mean remark made about you, or an upcoming event. Don’t be shy with your submissions. Don’t make any changes. Don’t overthink it. It’s a simple practise, but you’ll notice how your brain’s clutter downloads onto the paper. It’s now there, and you don’t have to worry about it. (Writing down to-dos before bed helps you fall asleep faster, according to research.) Return to your list when you feel refreshed, calm, and ready to tackle life. I’ve also heard of people using this technique and then tearing or burning the paper. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by negative emotions, it’s definitely worth a shot.
  2. Ask the Appropriate Questions
    I’m a naturally anxious person. Whatever I do, there’s a constant radio-like buzz in the background that something will go wrong. People will dislike me. There will be an issue. I’ll make a mistake… By having these thoughts, I am a part of the human condition. We suffer from negativity bias, which causes us to focus on negative events rather than positive ones. And, because this burden follows us through all dimensions of time, we ask: What went wrong for me? (In the past) What went wrong? (Present) What if everything fails? (Future).

Yes, it is necessary to think in this manner. Failure and caution can teach us a lot. However, studies show that thinking about all the things that could go wrong makes us more likely to fail. Not to mention that these negative thoughts consume a lot of mental energy. So, here’s something that has been extremely beneficial to me. When I’m surrounded by negative thoughts, I remind myself that I’m asking the wrong questions. Instead, I ask myself: What did I do correctly? What am I doing correctly? What if everything goes perfectly? Again, this is not about denying your shortcomings. It’s all about celebrating your victories. It is about recognising the goodness in life.

  1. Be wary of GIGO
    Assume your mind is clear and your cup is empty. So, what now? This is a critical time because many people, including myself, are reverting to old habits. And they wonder why life is so difficult again, despite their efforts. That’s a GIGO sign. This is what I mean. The acronym GIGO stands for “Garbage In, Garbage Out” in computer science. Bugs and crashes are unavoidable when developing an app with complex code. Poor input will inevitably lead to poor output. That is why the best programmes avoid “garbage” by never accepting it.

Our brains are slightly more complex than computers. They do, however, perform similarly. So take some time to think about it. What are the inputs you give your mind? Binges on TikTok? Instagram Doomscrolling? Toxic discussions? You could hire a monkey to build a website if you don’t mindfully curate the influx to your brain.

Accept WIWO

On the other hand, there’s WIWO (“Wisdom In, Wisdom Out”). Choosing inputs that cause you to grow and expand. But keep in mind that sometimes no input is preferable to forced input. Allow your mind time and space to process knowledge. WIWO does not guarantee that you will become a sage. However, it vastly improves your chances of achieving mental clarity. And, no, this does not imply that you must eliminate all pleasures from your life. It’s fine to binge-watch Netflix on occasion, as long as you’re deliberate about it. It all comes down to being the gatekeeper of your mind. Keep in mind that the size of your cup is limited. Fill it carefully. Also, keep in mind that this is an ongoing process. You may need to empty and refill your cup several times before you are satisfied with the tea. It is not always easy to practise mental minimalism. However, having a clear, clean mind is one of life’s most rewarding experiences.

Hi, I’m Garima and I write about life experiences. I have several books available on Amazon. Check them out today! Any purchases or KDP reads will be greatly appreciated. If you like my books, do leave a review. Here’s my author page on Amazon –


7 Comments Add yours

  1. Taking a walk is so powerful when it comes to clearing the mind. I have been meaning to walk more. I forgot about the idea of downloading your mind. Thank you friend, helpful post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GS says:

      Most welcome, Damien.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. ganga1996 says:

    Well said 👌

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GS says:

      Thank you

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Some really useful tips here Garima for clearing the mind. I like the acronyms too. ❤️❌❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. GS says:

      Thank you Carolyn. Glad you liked the post.

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.