There are two times of year traditionally set aside for clearing out the old to bring in the new. Springing cleaning, a human reflection of seasonal change, and the new year, also based on seasonal renewal but perhaps a more human defined concept of new beginnings. I’m caught up in the latter. I have completely removed the contents of my wardrobe in the name of rationalisation. My floor is covered in items collected during the coarse of my life. They represent links to past moments, past careers, past relationships and past ideas. My bed is covered in clothes that need to be sorted; those to be kept, those to be discarded. I have to etch out a space in the mountain of material to sit for my daily meditation practice.

Being surrounded by this multitude of items that represent my life is probably not the best environment in which to meditate, however I have a commitment to a daily practice so I go ahead. What I find when I close my eyes is that all these objects are now floating around in my mind. But this is meditation. What I’m seeing is my minds projection. These mental objects and their connection to me can be easily altered. With each breath I can melt them away.

When I open my eyes I see all these things around me and the difference between the representations in my mind and the ‘real’ objects is suddenly negligible. While I can’t melt these ‘real’ ones away with my mind I can choose how they affect me. I can choose to keep or discard. They may have physical properties but it is still my mind, aided by my senses that is creating them for me to perceive, giving them permission to be good or bad distractions.

I sit a little longer amongst my possessions, both connected and disconnected from them. Suddenly this seems the perfect place to meditate because if I can’t work out how to see beyond all the distractions before me how will I see passed all the distractions that life throws at me every day.

I hear the sound of someone outside. A car starts, a train goes by, someone in the kitchen puts the kettle on, a work deadline appears, shopping lists and domestic demands rise as though tangible. I breath and take in these ‘distractions’ rather than fight against them. Just like all the objects surrounding me, these ‘distractions’ are only happening in my mind, aren’t they? It's only me here, in my head. It's only me deciding what to keep and what to clear away.

Evan Shapiro

This blog is edited and used with permission of the author. Originally posted @