Clearing Mental Clutter

You’ve been wanting to start a meditation habit, but you can’t make that first step….to sit down…even for just 5 minutes.   

You stare at that lovely space that you’ve’s calling to you, but your mind is being pulled in so many different directions.  And it’s convinced you that you don’t have the time…that you should keep going.  There’s too much to do.  Meditation feels like an indulgence.

And the irony is, the more you are being pulled away from your meditation space, the more you need it.  It’s really that simple.

Meditation is a method to stop the chaos and to clear the space, so you can start being guided in life rather than pushing through life. 

It’s a method to clear the clutter and  to come home to yourself.

There are some statistics floating around google that say that the average person has between 6,000 and 20,000 thoughts per day (google fact :)).  Let’s say you sleep for 8 hours, then that’s 375 to 1250 thoughts per waking hour. That’s 6 to 20 thoughts per minute!  

The same sources say 80% of these thoughts are typically negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts.

So they are the same thoughts going around and around in our minds…useless, damaging, no-solution thoughts. 

I couldn’t find the original research study which was attributed to the National Science Foundation—it’s just not there.  But regardless, I know we can agree that we’re often overwhelmed by all the thoughts bouncing around in there and yes many of them are negative. And so many are the same thoughts over and over again day to day.

Of course, there are still thoughts that are beneficial.  That’s good. We want to cultivate these thoughts. But even the beneficial things, sometimes we don’t know how to carry them out.  Because the negative thoughts are popping up and getting in the way.

Since meditation can feel uncomfortable when your head is so full, the practice of journaling and getting all the thoughts on paper can help you take them away from the space in your mind.  

So what we want to do before we sit down to meditate, is to get them all out there. To just dump them out. 

Just like if you’re organizing a closet or drawer in your home.  First you remove everything from the area and you start with a clean space. 

It’s the same thing with your mind in preparation for meditation. If you dump out all your thoughts  before you start meditating, you can clear some of that space so you’ll have a place for what you do want, you’ll have space for the calmness and wisdom to come in. 

It reminds me of a story told in “Art of Tea” by Osho. It’s about a Zen master who was pouring a cup of tea for one of his guests.  The master filled his guest’s cup and keeps on pouring.  He’s pouring and pouring and the cup is now overflowing.  The guest is watching as the tea is spilling over and finally yells out “stop, stop it’s overflowing, there isn’t room for any more”. The Zen master says, “Exactly, you are like this cup.”  You are already full of old thoughts, old beliefs, full of all your opinions and judgements.  

If your cup is already full there’s no space for anything new.  There’s no space for the calmness, no space for the wisdom, no space for new teachings. “The answer cannot be given, because there is no one to receive it.” 

We want to teach a practice to help you empty your cup…of all the chaos, all your worries, even the things that you want to do.  The things that are inspiring to you.  You want to start fresh. Start with a fresh perspective.

You’re going to start with an empty cup.  

Meditation is a great way to begin to empty your cup. Osho talks about using meditation for the process of emptying the cup. 

But many of us can’t make this first step.  The cup is too full to even sit down.  We’re saying to ourselves “I don’t have the time, right now”  “I have to keep going”  “I’ll  meditate later when I have the time”

There’s a book called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen where he explains that “your mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” He describes how our brains were not meant to hold onto information, they are not meant for storing information.  Rather, our brains were meant to be a creative machine.

So when we’re trying to hold everything in there, we’re trying to remember everything, just going over the same stuff in our mind, then we don’t have the space for creativity. to have new ideas, fresh ideas that will actually move us in the direction to creating the change in our life that we desire. 

We can begin to empty our cup, by writing down anything that is holding our attention or distracting us, anything that’s taking up space. We’re going to get it out and and start new.

Here I’d like to introduce you to a type of journaling practice that you can do, before you start meditating. If you’re already someone who meditates, this method will enhance your practice.  

But it’s especially for those of you, who can’t make the first step, the sitting down to meditate, because you have too much to do. Or at least there’s too much that you think you have to do.  You may or may not have too much to do, but since your brain thinks you absolutely do, then you’re not going to be able to sit down.

So you’re going to dump everything out, just like if you’re going to organize a drawer in your kitchen.  You dump everything out first.  Dump it all over the floor or on a counter.  You now can see everything that’s in there.  

Once your drawer (your mind) is empty and you can start fresh.  With a fresh intention to place only the things that are useful to you.

The other things, the other thoughts, the ones that have no benefit to you, you’ll discard because they’re just taking up space.

So this process of emptying your cup before you meditate is easy.  Just set a timer, I typically do this method as part of my tea meditation.  It takes 5 minutes for the herbs to infuse.  So as my tea is infusing I empty my cup, so I’m prepared for my meditation.  

I would suggest for you to set a timer anywhere between 3 and 5 minutes, that’s a perfect amount of time. 

Here’s a journaling practice that will help you empty your cup:

Step 1:  Set your intention (a focused mental promise to yourself) to empty your cup, to empty your mind, so it will be clear for your meditation or clear for a new day. Give yourself permission to be free of the chaos, all the noise inside there. 

Step 2:  Set a timer (I usually set the timer for 5 minutes as my herbal tea is infusing.  While the tea infuses, I empty my cup).  

Step 3: Write down everything on your mind, as it’s popping up…the things you need to do today…both the exciting and draining things, any worries that are consistently on your mind, habits that you want to get stronger, and those you want to release.  This isn’t a to-do list.  It’s stream of consciousness of everything that runs through your mind.  It’s a process to recognize the thoughts that are there and to trust that you don’t need to keep them all bouncing around in there.  Now’s not the time to push any thoughts away.  Get them all out there, unbury them, take them out of the space of your mind and put them on paper.  

You may have some resistance at first.  It may feel uncomfortable to have everything right in front of you.  But the intention is to have it on paper to clear space in your mind.  So set your intention, turn on your timer, and continue to write until the timer goes off.

Your meditation space is now clear and free of all these thoughts bouncing around.  You’ve put them in a safe place.  If you choose you can go back to all of them after your meditation.  Or you may decide that some, many, or all can be tossed, because they aren’t helping you, they are just taking up space and keeping you from creating new ideas and solutions.


Now you’re ready to meditate.

Below is a 2-minute Chakra Tea Meditation for the card I chose today, I’m sure you’ll enjoy this one for your Sacral Chakra.

Patience: The ability to trust the natural timing and flow of my life



Emptying your cup isn’t a one-time thing.  Our minds have been holding onto to unnecessary information for a long time.  You want to build up trust within yourself…keep emptying your cup, everyday…you’ll realize that the stored information and perseverating thoughts aren’t helping you, rather they’re keeping you stuck. Empty your cup and new insights and solutions will begin to pop up in the empty spaces within your mind.

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