Spring Cleaning Our Selves

As spring has made its slow approach toward the Western hemisphere, the lightness of the season has me thinking about shedding not just parkas and heavy boots but all the other excess weight we carry—physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually. Spring is the traditional season of in-depth cleaning for a reason: emerging from the extra layers of winter, we feel fresh, newly awakened, and ready to unburden ourselves of the literal and metaphorical clutter in our lives.

The belongings we own, the interactions we engage in, the activities we choose all reflect and contribute to a state of mind and being. Letting go of what doesn’t serve us creates space in our body, home, and heart for a state of being that is positive, life-affirming, and abundant.

When we create space, we raise our vibrational rate. It becomes so much easier to connect with the universal intelligence and the universal abundance that’s around us. We can more readily see and acknowledge the beauty in moments, in people, in things. Having more space—literal or not—allows for a clarity that’s hard to access when we’re dragged down by possessions, hyperactive thoughts, or a gloomy spirit.

Physical Decluttering

For many of us, it’s easiest to start decluttering on the physical level, because it’s tangible. I recommend going through each room in your home, examining every item in it, and asking yourself Is this important? Does this spark joy in me? Does it bring a sense of calm? Or is it past its expiry date?

If you find that the object in question is not useful to you, brings you no joy, or is not something that you can respect, this is the time to ask yourself Why is this in my life?

Look at the things around you as if they were alive, like a friend, respecting that everything has a function. Honour the possessions you choose to keep by creating a place for them. Instead of walking in at the end of the day and dropping your coat and purse at the entrance, for example, consider them with gratitude and respect: This coat kept me warm and this purse carried the belongings that supported me on my tasks throughout the day. By creating a specific place for them, and putting them there, you’re ensuring that your home environment is not random or haphazard. The lightness of streamlining and organizing belongings affects us well beyond the physical level. It not only keeps our homes tidier, it helps our minds stay settled and clear.

My mom is a clean freak, and the home I grew up in was immaculate. Her cleaning strategy was to start in one spot, clear it and then in a clockwise direction through each room and through our home, first tidying and then cleaning. Growing up, I didn’t appreciate her orderliness, but as an adult I use her method in my own home. If I look at the mess all at once I get overwhelmed, but if I pick a place to start, and if I have a direction, the task becomes ordered and doable.

Mental & Emotional Decluttering

On the mental and emotional level, clearing space means paying attention to what’s occupying your thoughts. If something is continuously running through your mind—anxiety about an upcoming event, preoccupation with a wound from your past—if it’s knocking on your mind’s door, it needs your attention. And it needs that attention in a conscious way, not just as a thought spinning around your mind.

Sometimes it’s best to get thoughts out of our heads by putting them on paper, then standing back, taking a breath, and making a decision. If it’s a wound from the past that’s weighing you down, that decision may be that you need to go speak to someone about it. Or, it may be that you’re ready to stop giving power to what happened to you. Either way, conscious attention to the problem can move it outside the hamster wheel of your mind to a place where you can do something about it and release it.

Meditation is another way of decluttering our minds. Meditation, very simply, is about breathing, being conscious of the inhalation and exhalation, and getting present with your body and yourself. There are many different types of meditation, but these principles are the basis of all types.

Putting a stop to procrastination is another higher-level means of decluttering. “I’ll get to it tomorrow” becomes a nagging obligation or unfulfilled desire that drains our psychic energy as we carry it around, waiting for something to happen. We want to be striving for lives where we make things happen, where we take or create what we want instead of keeping it on the back burner for “later.”

The internet, while an incredible vehicle of connection and information, also puts a lot of clutter into our minds and creates a wedge between us and other people. Consciously cutting back on time spent online, engrossed on social media, reading the news, watching videos, frees up mental space as well as time available for being active, exercising, calling or visiting friends, catching up for real instead of via text message or Facebook likes. We still require the human experience of interaction on a level deeper than 140 characters. Use the internet as a stepping stone toward that meaningful connection we all crave, but don’t let it become the extent of your connection.

Spiritual Decluttering

On the spiritual level, decluttering is less about eliminating what weighs you down and more about seeing what you can do to bring more joy and gratitude into your life. Joy and gratitude are the two main states of creating space. These, along with stillness and the presence of silence, are what will bring you a decluttered spirit. You can be so much in conscious presence that you experience stillness even at the intersection of Yonge and Bloor, with traffic flowing around you and crowds hustling by on the sidewalk. The spiritual is in being, not in doing.

As you dig out the spring jackets and pack away those winter boots, I encourage you to look for deeper ways that you can free your home, your mind, and your spirit of unwanted weight. Allow the fresh wind and sunshine of spring to inspire you to create space for the clarity and abundance that are waiting.