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Breathing Room: Open Your Heart by Decluttering Your Home Paperback – April 1, 2014
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"Breathing Room is a fascinating blend of the spiritual, practical and personal stories about how we can all declutter our lives. The book provides a clear guide to accomplish the inner work you need to do not only to declutter your physical world, but also to accomplish this in mind and spirit." (Matt Chan creator and executive producer of A&E's series Hoarders)
"With clarity, compassion, and humor, Lauren Rosenfeld and Dr. Melva Green help us see the deep connection between living space and heart space—guiding us toward freedom and ease within both. With both spiritual lessons and easy to do exercises, this book is a perfect blend of theory and practice. Readers of Breathing Room will soon find themselves rejoicing in the wide open spaces of both home and heart." (Joan Borysenko, PhD author of Minding the Body, Mending the Mind, and Inner Peace for Busy People)
"[Breathing Room] has helped me deeply understand that clearing space is not just about the 'stuff' in my house, but, more importantly, the 'stuff' in my heart." (Patti Digh author of Life is a Verb)
"This book is genius. If you shut down when faced with your clutter, if clutter is stopping you from living the beautiful life that is your birthright, read this book! It has what you need to change your relationship to clutter forever! (Jennifer Louden author of The Woman's Comfort Book and The Life Organizer)
"Breathing Room puts the Om into your home and the grease into your elbows! This is where the spirituality of clutter meets practicality with a big dose of compassion. Well done!" (Tisha Morris author of Mind Body Home)
"Who knew that clearing your physical space of unnecessary clutter could be a path of self-reflection and deep learning? Well Lauren Rosenfeld & Dr. Melva Green—that's who! In Breathing Room these two wise women guide us in how to learn from the spaces where we live and create rooms that reflect a nourished and nourishing heart. With compassion and humor they help us find a way to let the beauty we are shine through the inevitable messiness of being human." (Oriah Mountain Dreamer author of The Invitation)
"A compassionate guide to clearing out your clutter, and inviting space, light, and peace into your home and heart." (Francine Jay author of The Joy of Less and A Minimalist Living Guide)
"Melva Green in soft, super creative and direct. If anyone can provide the necessary 'breathing room' in our space or in our life it's her! This book is just fantastic!" (Dorothy The Organizer, creator of Curb the Chaos System and expert on Hoarders)
About the Author
Dr. Melva Green is a board-certified psychiatrist, TV personality, and spiritual healer. She is an expert doctor on the popular and critically acclaimed A&E show Hoarders. Dr. Green travels nationally and internationally assisting spiritually awakening souls who have committed to detoxing and decluttering—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually—so that they might live their best lives and awaken into their full potential. She lives in northern California with her son.
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Here’s the deal, and it’s pretty darned simple: Whether the clutter is in your home, heart, mind, or spirit; if it’s weighing you down, crowding you out, blocking your light, cramping your style; if it’s become an obstacle you keep stumbling over; if it continually cuts you with a broken, jagged edge; if it’s stopping you from finding the things you really love, then it’s time for you to let it go .
The authors’ “honest truth” is that “you only have room and time for what you truly love,  hence the need “for you to make some space for what truly matters. It’s time you found a little breathing room” .
It’s important to understand that this definition of clutter is distinctly different from what you or I might have in mind. By Breathing Room’s definition, a cluttered desk or nest of things in a closet is not really clutter if it’s not getting in your way; conversely, a single object could be clutter if it’s “cramping your style” or “weighing you down.” In effect, defining your things (or your emotions or thoughts for that matter) as clutter depends more or less entirely on their effect on you.
In this context, it’s not surprising that Breathing Room makes large, outsized claims about the stakes and potential benefits of the decluttering process. Green and Rosenfeld assert that “decluttering is a deep spiritual practice that can bring you closer to your true self, the people you love, and your Divine Source” . In their view, one’s clutter is hiding “spiritual lessons and emotional ah-has” which are there waiting to help you liberate your home and your heart, “give flight to your spirit and rock your world” . Perhaps this is because the authors’ experiences were based on their work with extreme cases (co-author Green was a consultant on the TV show Hoarders), I found myself wondering if the primary audience for this book is serious hoarders, for which the heavy spiritual emphasis is an antidote; extreme problems demand extreme solutions.
Although Breathing Room recognizes that the decluttering process is a “complex” and “personal” journey and that “only you know how to make that journey safe and comfortable” [149-153], this happens in the context of its “spiritual method of decluttering” which is called SLICE, an acronym for “Stop and Listen. Intend. Clear the Energy” . The method itself is demanding — the first step (Stop and Listen) asks no less of you than to “change your habits of being”  — and for me it goes off track by reading too much into our clutter, which for them represents “our history, fears, worries, and uncomfortable and painful emotions” . Indeed, the authors assert that our emotions “tend to generate clutter”  that “blocks our hearts” . The solution to all this is to use decluttering to create empty spaces, which are “full of pure potential, a vast openness into which we can invite any energy we desire” .
This does not match my experience with my own decluttering efforts. For instance, Breathing Room’s assertion that “we create our clutter unconsciously, through indecision, fear, and running away” is rather naive if you ask me; our consumerist society which encourages us to accumulate things thoughtlessly has a major role to play in this too. The authors also seem to uncritically criticize all “time-saving” devices that in fact “are not only consuming physical space and time, but they are also taking up mental and emotional energy” . There is an element of truth to this in many cases, but I still happen to think a blender is quite handy, thank you.
As a result, I found Breathing Room’s approach to be foreign for my own purposes for the most part. For me, decluttering can be a deep spiritual practice, or it can be something far less ambitious than aiming to serve one’s “Highest Self” , for instance. I did find some nuggets in Breathing Room here and there. The authors’ advice to
listen to your clutter. Yes, clutter speaks. It speaks volumes! It can tell us about our attachments, fears, and worries. It can regale us with regrets about missed opportunities or our disappointments in life. This is not easy stuff that our clutter has to say 
reminds me of the inner voices I've encountered in my 1000 things projects. The notion that “our lives are overburdened by physical reflections of our emotional exhaustion”  could be another useful insight in moderation (vs. as the basis for an entire method or process). The notion of decluttering as relief and release is another appealing concept, but again this can happen without it having to be a spiritual experience.
Breathing Room looks like an excellent resource for someone who is in dire straits relative to their relationship with their things, or for someone who wants their decluttering process to be a deep spiritual journey. If that description doesn’t fit you, you’ll most likely find a more simpatico approach elsewhere.
I appreciate that it addresses more than the clutter in our rooms, but in our lives and hearts as well. Each time I approach my possessions (and my attitudes and relationships) in this way, I feel lighter and freer, and more focused, and I am grateful to the person who recommended it to me.