I never thought too much about spring cleaning until I had a real yearning recently to clean after months of living comfortably with the ‘stuff’ that was neatly stacked in strategic corners of my house.
It seems to me that animals weren’t the only ones who needed to hibernate and feel a need to store up during the colder months. Winter brought with it lethargy, depression and…hoarding.
Spring Cleaning the Home
Then spring comes. There’s something magical about the first few days of spring. Like the light at the end of a tunnel, the warm sunshine brings relief to the months and months of winter chills. The sun cheers up our moods, energises us out of hibernation, and opens our doors to the adventures of the great outdoors again. It makes us see the world in a different light – including our own homes.
So with much enthusiasm, I diligently went through each pile and each piece, rearranging things into their new homes or throwing them out if they were no longer needed. There were times when I hesitated and asked myself, “Should I, or shouldn’t I?” However, after seeing the piles of stuff I had kept “just in case” I might use it one day, but then not really using it anyway, I realised that if I hadn’t used it in the last six months, I wasn’t going to use it ever.
If I chose to keep a particular item, I would store it somewhere to create that sense of order. If I chose to throw something out, then I would do so without hesitating.
Surprisingly, each time I decided to throw something out, I actually felt glad to be ridding it from my life. I didn’t feel a sense of loss, but more of a sense of lightness. After all, the material clutter that surrounds us translates to a mental clutter within us.
Spring Cleaning the body, mind and spirit
Reflecting on this experience of letting go of the unwanted things in my life, I can see that we carry so much useless ‘stuff’ with us wherever we go.
Our bodies are in a continual state of tension and tiredness from the stress that we impose on it. I believe that many of us have forgotten what our bodies feel like when it’s truly relaxed because we have become so used to it in its tense state.
Our minds hold a lot of ‘stuff’ too – worries, fears, anxieties, daydreams, memories (good and bad), and that voice in our heads that is forever commenting and judging.
Finally, our hearts become a safe filled with hardened emotions and emotional baggage, some of which we may have even forgotten we deposited in there until it shocks us when it decides to resurface.
How to clean within
We can use the same clearing process of the physical home with our inner home.
We need to take it one piece from one pile at a time. We can start with any recurring thoughts or feelings that we do not find useful, or even harmful. We need to begin by seeing those thoughts or feelings objectively, because we can never clear anything if we still see it as ‘ours’. You then need to make a conscious choice: ‘Do I want to keep this, or do I want to throw it away?’
If you decide to keep it, then at least you know you have made this choice and you can then ‘store’ it in a place that is comfortable for you. If you decide to throwing it away, then you can visualise yourself letting it go with a triumphant smile. If it helps, you can even write it down what you are trying to rid and then erasing it or throwing the piece of paper away as a symbol of discarding those useless thoughts or emotions.
Surprisingly, we don’t only hoard material things ‘just in case’ we use them one day; we also attach onto a lot of emotions and thoughts in the same way as well. For example, we may hold onto a particular expectation or hope, believing that if we don’t then we would lose sight of our goal or lose our motivation. We may hold onto memories, for fear that should we stop replaying the scene in our heads, the moment would be lost forever. Memories, thoughts, emotions, play an important in our lives. However, if they begin to overcrowd our lives, then it’s a sure sign we need a spring cleaning to de-clutter.
Finally, one of the reasons I need to throw things out is because if I don’t, then I won’t have enough space to bring in anything new. In fact, by being conscious of the limited storage space at home, I become more mindful and vigilant in what I decide to buy. So before I make any impulse buys, I ask myself whether it’s needed and whether I am willing to sacrifice valuable storage space for this item.
Likewise, people fall into an emotional rut or an endless daydream when they are stuck in their old thinking styles. Until they can alter their way of thinking and open up their hearts to change, then it is difficult for anything new to enter into their lives in a profound and moving way. If we can think in this way, the next time that we choose to keep a particular thought pattern or negative emotion, we can consider what valuable space we are sacrificing that could be used to accommodate positivity instead.
Then, like a breath of fresh air in an early spring morning, we can experience a piece of calm and lightness, where our burdens no longer hold us down.
14 Sept 2011