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Episode 53: How Decluttering Your Life Can Positively Benefit Your Recovery

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Episode 53: How Decluttering Your Life Can Positively Benefit Your Recovery

 

(Disclaimer: This transcript was made using AI technology. Please excuse any errors.)

Music 0:00
Welcome to the Atheists in Recovery Podcast, where we talk about finding hope in recovery And now your host, Dr. Adina Silvestri,

Adina Silvestri 0:11
Hola guys and

welcome to Episode 53 of the Atheists in Recovery podcast. And today we are talking about holistic decluttering. Specifically, holistically. decluttering your attachment to things that don't support your recovery. And we are going to meet a holistic decluttering coach, Michael Spencer. I like this podcast because it's not something that comes up in my everyday conversation with the people that I work with that are struggling with substance abuse or behavioral addictions. And it was very eye opening. So today, we talk a little bit about how How to create a home space that's conducive to supporting your ongoing recovery. ways to overcome overwhelm, while decluttering decrease those chances of grabbing a drink or returning to old destructive ways to numb. And we also talk about what's the one thing you could do if you're truly new to recovery? If you are, you know, going to start tomorrow perhaps or if you are coming out of an IOP program and you're back home and you're recreating the sober you. So we go through a process called a mindful walk, which I absolutely love. And I hope that you enjoy this this very unique episode of the podcast. Okay, on to our guest, Michael Spencer. Michael owns a virtual decluttering business called let's pure from She is a holistic decluttering coach and a Reiki practitioner who helps soulful people to clutter their homes at a deep level through a method called purification. As a former mental health counselor with a training as a modern day priestess Michael brings a wide variety of expertise to her services. Michael is also the host of the let's purify podcast where she shares inspiration tips and stories designed to help people get crystal clear about their relationships with their belongings and what they choose to carry with them into their next phase of life. Okay, guys, let's get started. Michael Spencer, welcome to the show.

Michael Spencer 2:40
Thank you, Adina. It's so good to be here.

Adina Silvestri 2:43
Yeah, I'm so happy to have you. So, let's start this conversation, like I do with all of our conversations on the podcast and talk about you know, your deepest roots. So deepest roots From childhood, and just inquiring about that spiritual background for you?

Michael Spencer 3:06
Yeah, I would say my deepest roots when connecting with spirituality are being outdoors.

Adina Silvestri 3:14
Hmm.

Michael Spencer 3:15
Growing up, my mom gardened a lot. My dad, in the early years of my life was doing some farm work. And I grew up on a farm. And so it was really a lot about being outside and in the sunshine and in the garden with my mom, and that's, to this day, I really enjoy gardening. I love being outside and hiking. And that's where I can feel a real sense of peace and calm. And I grew up in the Presbyterian Church, and I don't really carry a strong connection to church today at all. And I'm kind of grateful for that foundation. And it's, I've had the freedom to sort of explore my own spiritual beliefs as I've come into adulthood.

Adina Silvestri 4:00
Yeah.

Thanks for that. I love that you grew up on a farm.

Michael Spencer 4:06
Yeah, me too.

Adina Silvestri 4:08
That sounds very peaceful. And I'm wondering how then that led to, you know where you are today. And so maybe now you can talk a little bit about your let's purify, which is a holistic decluttering coaching community, which I find so interesting.

Michael Spencer 4:30
Yeah, it's funny, I'm not even sometimes I'm not even sure how I got here myself. I took some interesting routes to get to the place that I am today I started out as an accountant and auditor and then in my mid 20s, did a pretty big pivot and became a mental health counselor. And within that field, you know, really opened up to a lot of my own self exploration and also serving others and I did a lot a lot of work with trauma. And in that, you know, just getting to know people and also being on my own spiritual journey, you know, saying kind of doing my own exploration throughout my late 20s. And into my 30s, I started getting more interested in our relationship with our stuff. I had some things that I was carrying around in a particular closet for many, many, many years. And I was trying so hard to declutter at times, and I would open up these boxes and try to sort through them and I would get so overwhelmed and just kind of flooded. And I wasn't able to stay with the process and actually make the decisions that I needed to to be able to move forward. And so for my own process, I created this method called originally it was called Home Energy purification and now it's usually just called purification or purifying it. It connects traditional decluttering aspects like the the practical and logistical things we need to address. It combines that with holistic approaches like using intuition, mindfulness, emotional processing, spiritual practices. And so I found for myself, when I brought those things together, I was able to really stay present and centered and calm in the process and make better decisions about what I was choosing to hold on to, and what I was choosing to let go. And at some point along the way, I decided to really dedicate this could my career to working with people around this so I get to bring in some of my counseling background, although I'm coaching folks, so I'm not formally counseling anymore, and I can't take that part out of me and being able to really meet people where they are And hold that space. And so that's something really unique that I bring to this process.

Adina Silvestri 7:06
Mm hmm.

Yeah. And so, so this purification method that you help people with in decluttering, their homes is really just taking objects that are maybe causing anxiety, but maybe not maybe they don't even know that it's causing a negative emotion and going through them and in a very mindful way and asking questions, sort of like, do you need this? Or what kind of questions might you be asking?

Michael Spencer 7:34
Hmm, I love that question. Yeah so when we're exploring a person's relationship with their belongings, we might ask some really practical questions like is this something that you use? Is it in good repair? And then most people are familiar with Marie condos tidying up question, does it bring you joy does it spark joy? And I think that's a beautiful question to tap into, and some times, we may have belongings that don't particularly spark joy, but they may still be a useful object in our life or something that we do choose to keep. And sometimes a belonging may bring up a whole bunch of feelings. And so just simply asking, does it spark joy may not be sufficient. So we might also look at, you know, the full range of thoughts and emotions that come up, because sometimes belonging is connected to a series of experiences. And so there may be more to it. We can also look at, does this belonging, support who I'm becoming doesn't support the vision that I have for my life? Does this object energetically and some of your listeners may get that right away and go, Oh, yeah, I know what she means. And so some others might be like, What is she talking about? Just the energy of this object resonate with my energy field? So sometimes we can just sit with an object. And rather than thinking about it and thinking about our history with it, we can just sit with it and hold it or touch it or look at it if it's a bigger object. And just notice what happens in my body when I'm with this belonging. And sometimes there are profound responses that happen that we wouldn't otherwise notice if we didn't take the time to get still, and to really listen.

Adina Silvestri 9:31
Yeah,

so that sounds great. And I think that if you have sort of a mindfulness background, or if you have a meditation practice, that seems like it would be something that you would want to engage with, or maybe try. So a lot of our listeners do not perhaps have a mindfulness practice, or maybe they want to have a mindfulness practice. They just don't know where to start. And so how would you engage them in sort of sitting with these objects and what should they be looking for? Because I get this question a lot. So I say, Where do you feel that in your body and my clients will say, Adina? I hate that question. Yeah,

Michael Spencer 10:10
yeah. So I would say first and foremost, Before starting, making sure that you are well fed, well rested and well hydrated so that you're comfortable going into the process, you're comfortable physically, you know, you're not like, Oh, it's 1130 at night, and I'm exhausted. Now I'm going to start decluttering and I'm going to tune in with my objects, you know, making sure that you really are feeling as centered and calm and grounded as you can. I also would recommend just doing this for short periods of time. So maybe setting a timer for 10 or 15 minutes can be a lot when we open up a closet or we take a lid off a box and there are just so many decisions to And it can feel kind of flooding. And so it's really important to give ourselves and I include myself in that too. Anytime I'm doing purifying work, I'm always, you know, checking in with myself and making sure that I'm taking breaks. So as we're sitting with an object, so I'm just picking up this cup of water. And so we're talking about mindfulness. You could hold an object in in your hands, and actually feel the weight of it. Hmm. So maybe it's very light. And in you can, you know, if you close your eyes, you can barely feel it in your hand, and maybe it has some heft to it. And so you can just start with feeling, what does that feel like in your hands? Or if it's a bigger object, when I touch it? What does it actually feel like under my hand? What's the texture? Is it warm or is it cold and you know, like, with this Is it heavy? Is it light? Is it dense? And then we can really take it in with our eyes. When I look at this object, is it pleasant to me Do I Do I like what I see. And so when we're talking about does something resonate? Does it feel good to hold it in my hand? Does it feel good to me when I look at this object, as if seeing it for the first time? And so this is part of mindfulness to is going, what if I'd never seen this before? And I just picked it up, huh? What would that be like for me? Hmm. And so it's also getting really curious and almost childlike. Mm hmm. Because what happens is we have so many stories, so many thoughts about our belongings and those can certainly have a place when we're purifying. So it's not about getting rid of anything. And we can allow the story to be on the shelf for a minute, and just taking the object in. And so if there's an object that maybe causes a little bit of stress, or brings up some mixed emotions, you know that question about what do you feel in your body? A person might notice, Wow, my heart's racing a little bit. Or, you know, I just picked this up and I'm really looking at it. And I feel sick to my stomach. Yeah. And so it's that's or just like, Wow, my body just feels so heavy and I got exhausted all of a sudden. And we may pick something up and just be flooded with a beautiful nostalgia or a memory that comes up of a loved one. And we find I'm smiling spontaneously. Wow, I feel my heart feels lifted. Ah, I feel excited. And so it's allowing the energy of our bodies and the physicality of our bodies and our nervous systems to be fully present without judgment. Yeah, and that's a big key, right?

Adina Silvestri 14:27
Yeah, yeah. For everything. without judgment key words.

Michael Spencer 14:35
Yes. Yes.

Adina Silvestri 14:37
So I thought

we can now now that we have a general idea of what this let's purify method is, I wonder if we can switch topics now or maybe sort of pivot a little bit to the recovery space? Yeah. So when you're when you and I were talking prior to hitting record and even just talking, because we're friends, even just talking about our podcasts, you had said that, you know, this would be a very good idea for individuals in recovery, maybe people that are just coming out of recovery, maybe out of an IOP or a treatment program, to maybe individuals that have had years of recovery under their belt, and support in and looking at their space and creating this home space that supports recovery. And I thought, My God, that's awesome. And it was nothing, it would have been nothing that I would have thought of, if you hadn't brought it up to me. And then I remembered countless conversations with certain individuals in my practice that clutter in their home would cause them so much anxiety that they would grab a drink, or, you know, they would start on their sort of destructive pathways. And so I know that sort of a lot, but maybe we can, maybe we can touch on that and how we could use purifying to decrease the chances of using substances to numb.

Michael Spencer 16:11
Mm hmm.

Yeah. So like I was saying earlier, you know, as I was preparing today, I was thinking about halt, you know, not being too angry, angry, lonely, tired. And so that's definitely part of the purification process is really tending to ourselves. Because what can happen a lot of times when folks are decluttering is they don't prepare themselves for how emotionally taxing it can be and how physically taxing and so when you combine that with someone who is doing the work of recovery, it's really important to not just open up a closet and just start you know, or just even in the kitchen like, oh, I've got to clean off these kitchen counters, because I can't And it can be so flooding. You know, when we really start to look, there can be judgment that comes up about how messy or disorganized things have become. And Michael, let me interrupt you. When you say flooding, you mean overwhelmed? Yes, yes. Like that flood of emotions that can happen, where we can either shut down or we might want to use something like substances to help us shut that down. Yeah. And so you know, there can be the judgment that comes up there can be just the overwhelming question marks of like, ah, where do I put everything? How do I do this? So if we don't begin grounded and centered, chances are we're not going to be able to complete the process and get the clear open space that would actually be supportive, and less anxiety provoking. So doing all of the grounding, doing the short sessions, doing the mindfulness and also So creating a plan, as well as reasonable expectations, if you will. And so, you know, someone might say, Okay, so let's start with the kitchen counter. And we might say, Okay, I'm going to spend 30 minutes total, I'm going to do 215 minute sessions. And my intention, and so this is part of it, too, is creating that intention or that vision. I want this kitchen counter to be cleared of anything that doesn't belong in the kitchen. And I want it to be organized or something, whatever a person's vision and intention is. So then when you get started, you actually have a sense of what am I trying to accomplish? Because again, if we don't take the time to establish that we can get really spun up and then all of a sudden we're working on something in the living room or we put something away in the bedroom and we get distracted. So You know, staying centered on that particular task and kind of containing what it is that you're trying to accomplish. Does that help so far?

Adina Silvestri 19:09
Yeah. So you're taking, you're being clear with your expectations, you're making it sort of small and measurable and doing it in chunks. And you have it sounds like you have an end goal.

Michael Spencer 19:23
Mm hmm. Yeah. So that can all be really helpful. Something else that's unique about purifying is that we can bring in and it'll depend on each listener, you know, where they are with their spiritual practices and what would feel right to them. You can bring in things to support you. So some people like to maybe pick a crystal that they feel like wow, this is grounding or this feels really helpful to me and so they might carry that in their pocket or doing some type of ritual. Some people like to burn Sage as a way of clearing energy and So it can be really nurturing when we bring that sort of when we bring those sorts of energy tools and spiritual practices in, because we don't often think to connect them. And so then the process starts to get creative. And sometimes we're even starting to have a little bit more fun, which can help a person stick with the process and actually meet the goal that they are wanting.

Adina Silvestri 20:26
Yeah. So, you know, when I think about clutter, professionally, it's not something that comes up in my conversations unless, unless the client brings it up.

Michael Spencer 20:35
Mm hmm.

Adina Silvestri 20:36
But personally, it's something that I have a lot of experience with. I'm a paper hoarder. And so, but But getting back to the clients and, you know, where would you think somebody that's coming out of recovery, where should they start? You know, is there one room in the house that they should start with is there you know, I'm thinking of, you know, maybe drug paraphernalia Yeah, that they've had hidden away in some box in the back of their desk or, you know, where do they start? That would be a marker for success and, and maybe some tips along that lines? Yeah.

Michael Spencer 21:14
Yeah, I think it really depends on each person, you know where they are and what may be triggering, you know, in early recovery, it could be perhaps triggering, to specifically get that drug paraphernalia out and be looking at it. And the same time, it could also be triggering if they've sort of forgotten, you know, and then a month or so down the line, they happen to open a box or a drawer, and they see it because they haven't intentionally sought those things out and done some purification work. So I think it's important and if they're in, you know, treatment, maybe bringing that up with the counselor having you know, a coach like myself, who can help to Navigate that. Because to me, I don't feel like there is like a cookie cutter approach because people are so unique. What I think is important is I teach a process called a mindful walkthrough. And I think this could be helpful for folks who are either coming home from some type of treatment or are just in a place where they're making this major life change. And yeah, really committing to recovery, where you can allow yourself to simply walk through your home without an agenda without, you know, without trying to make anything happen. And you just spend some time in each space. So spending some time in the bedroom, in the living room in the kitchen, in the bathroom, and you may sit for two or three minutes, you may sit for 15 or 20 minutes and just notice it And again, so we come back to how do I feel when I'm in this space? Is it is this space? And are these belongings supportive of my commitment to recovery? Are these belongings is this space supportive of my overall health? Mm hmm. And these can be some pretty big questions because sometimes we may realize like, no, this is not supportive, I need to make some big changes. And hopefully there will be a space or two, where a person can say, yeah, this really aligns. I feel good here. Maybe I need to tweak a couple things. Because, I mean, it can come down to even things like clothing. That one typically would wear whenever maybe going to parties or clubs or just

Adina Silvestri 23:51
not supportive.

Michael Spencer 23:52
Yeah, like it's so our our belongings, and all of the material things that we interact with and even you know, the things In our cars, do we keep paraphernalia in the center console? And it's being really intentional about creating spaces that support the goals and intentions that one has for their life. Yeah.

Adina Silvestri 24:16
Well, I've just taken a boatload of notes. This is great. So as we kind of wrap up today, I'm wondering if you could talk a little bit more about your podcast, let's purify. And sort of it's been going on for a couple years now. Correct?

Michael Spencer 24:36
Yeah, it's been a little over two years, and it's the let's purify. I just added some words to the title. It's let's purify holistic decluttering. So people were looking for it. And it's all about the purification method of decluttering. And I have interviews with other folks around home and around decluttering and organizing, as well. Well as stories of folks who have had some transformation in their lives because of what they've been doing with their own purifying, and then lots of episodes where I'm just teaching and sharing about different aspects of this holistic purification decluttering approach. Mm hmm

Adina Silvestri 25:18
yeah, it's it's very informational. I especially like the the episode on decluttering your purses and bags and wallets. Yeah, that was a fun one to do. Yeah. Yeah. How do you think you've changed from the beginning until now? Really?

Michael Spencer 25:36
You know, I think it's been a confidence builder for me. And, you know, I used to get so nervous before interviews, both You know, when I interview people on the show, and then being interviewed on other people's shows, and it's been great to just be able to like, oh, I've got five minutes before this interview. I'm gonna sit down and you know, I did some prep for this earlier and not being so nervous. Anything Having a podcast where a new you know this, you know where we're talking about a topic every week, there's been a real deepening in my understanding, even though purification is something that I developed. I feel like I learned from it. You know, like, it teaches me things. And so having the podcast, I have this opportunity every week to connect with this energy. And you know, I'm doing that with clients as well. And with the podcast, it's a little bit different.

Adina Silvestri 26:31
Yeah, I for me, personally, I feel like I'm continuously learning from individuals like you and from others that I've had on the podcast. And so how can you How could you not love that?

Michael Spencer 26:42
Oh, absolutely. Is the collaboration and learning is beautiful.

Adina Silvestri 26:48
Yeah. So Michael, thanks so much for being on today. How can people best find you on the social and say hi?

Michael Spencer 26:55
Yeah, on Instagram and Facebook. I am @letspurify Then my website is letspurify.energy. So it's a little bit different. It's a dot energy, not calm. And I'm around Instagram and Facebook and we'd love to hear from folks.

Adina Silvestri 27:14
Yeah. Well, thank you again, so much for being on.

Michael Spencer 27:19
Mm hmm.

Yeah. Thanks for having me.

Music 27:21
Thank you for listening to the Atheists in Recovery podcast. For more great info and to stay up to date, head over to atheistsinrecovery.com

Welcome to today’s show!

 

WHAT WE’LL LEARN:

 

  • How Michael’s deepest roots shaped her identity in the world
  • How Michael took some interesting routes to get to where she is today in the decluttering space
  • What are some practical questions to get us started with evaluating our belongings
  • An exercise in mindfulness
  • What’s the first step in the purification process for individuals in recovery
  • Why it’s important to create a plan along with expectations for our first purifying session
  • How we can bring in things to support this process (e.g. a ritual)
  • An exercise called, a mindful walk through
  • How can we create an environment that is supportive of our recovery
  • How has Michael changed from the start of her podcast until now

 

RESOURCES MENTIONED

 

 

For more info, head over to atheistsinrecovery.com and subscribe to our email list. And thank you for listening!

 

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