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Spring cleaning—a thorough and deep cleanse of our homes at the end of winter—is a common tradition in every corner of the world.
I remember as a kid, both my grandmothers used to spring-clean their houses and involved me in the processes, too.
As we emerge from winter, we need to clean our house as well our bodies in preparation of spring to come.
I always hated spring cleaning and avoided my grandparents’ houses when I knew they were going to do the big cleaning to avoid having to wash the windows and remove spider webs from the corners and from behind furniture. Only when I started to live alone and became more conscious of my actions and my way of living, did I notice that when I actually do clean my windows and all the grimy corners of my apartment, I just feel so much better, lighter, and brighter afterward—not just in my surroundings but in my heart and my head as well.
And whilst spring cleaning isn’t as popular as it used to be a few generations ago, its little sister, decluttering, rose to fame thanks to Marie Kondo and her famous TV show. Decluttering gave a whole new level to spring cleaning—usually done before cleaning, and it evolved from a new habit of humanity: insanely accumulating stuff.
Most of this stuff we don’t actually need—let’s be frank here. However, getting our hands on certain things gives us a brief feeling of having satisfied a need we often can’t even name due to our subconscious association between our stuff and our emotional needs, or our unhealed traumas. Thus, spring cleaning and decluttering do more for us than the obvious.
When we clear out our physical space, we also clean up our energy—mental, spiritual, and emotional.
When we change our inner world, it impacts our outer world and vice versa. Our minds, bodies, and spirits operate as an integrated complete system; when we make improvements on one level, we immediately improve on the other levels too.
For me, spring cleaning became a beautiful opportunity to practice real self-love and self-care, way beyond the Insta-wothy bubble baths and the long-term effects are undeniably more worthy.
With my job (traveling tree-planter living and working with my crew, where crew members often change), I sometimes find myself living in a home where the energy is unsupportive; at times I feel like everything I do is a challenge or that I am trying to swim upstream. On the converse, a home and environment that is supportive makes me feel inspired, motivated, things flow in easier, and so on.
Einstein had this figured out with E=MC². He knew that energy equals matter, which means that everything is energy. I want to make sure that where I reside matches the energy of my goals so that I am able to more easily live the life I want to live.
In many traditions, such as the Indian Vastu Shastra or the Chinese Feng Shui (pronounced Fung Shway), it is said that clutter causes the energy flow to stagnate, and the areas of our homes that are cluttered often represent corresponding areas in our lives where our energy may be stuck. I noticed this personally—when I have issues and my mind is cluttered with worries and racing thoughts, my home becomes more messy too. Keeping my home environment clean, organized, and simple helps to keep my headspace clear as well.
Back in the day when I used to live in Budapest, I accumulated a lot of stuff over the years. When I gave up my lifestyle for traveling and living out of a backpack, I sold and gave away most of my belongings. I felt so much lighter afterward. Even now, still living out of a backpack, I often feel that I have too much stuff with me, but I try to keep living according to one of the rules I learned from Feng Shui and only keep stuff that I need, use, and love; everything else has to go.
But what’s the best way for me to do spring cleaning?
First, begin by focusing on one environment. Take time to clean up one area at a time. Focusing on one area only and tidying it up properly is less overwhelming than trying to do many things at once. And you don’t have to do everything in one day; you can just clean one small area a day, like the kitchen sink one day, the fridge the next, and so on.
Once you removed trash and clean the space, organize it. As you go around to the different rooms in the house, create three separate piles for your belongings: recycle, donate, and sell.
Our brain gets overstimulated by all the information on social media. Give yourself a two- to three-day social media break during the time you do the spring cleaning. When you come back to it, “clean up” your feed by unfollowing accounts or “friends” who don’t add anything beneficial to your life, or who you don’t truly connect with.
You can do electronic cleaning too by cleaning up your email box or deleting photos on your phone. Delete the endless rows of promotions and unsubscribe from accounts for which you no longer have interest.
Spring cleaning is the perfect time to cleanse our body, too. Don’t be shy when cleaning; put your favorite music on, get your body moving, and sweat it out while you polish your home. It will double the benefits. (Don’t forget to hydrate yourself!)
If you get bloated after eating or tend to feel lethargic during the day and suddenly loose your energy or motivation, or crave sugary or starchy foods then a cleanse may be a good idea.
A gentle cleanse like kitchari cleanse is a pathway to release toxins and excess bloat from your tissues, reset your digestive system, and balance your overall well-being.
Finally, we come to clearing the clutter from our souls. Practicing forgiveness and gratitude are my favorite soul-clearing activities. I like to use meditation and journaling for these.
Surround yourself with people who nourish and make you feel good. For me this is the hardest part, so I pay extra attention to it (since I work and live with my coworkers and I can’t choose who is in my living space 24/7). Be around supportive and positive people who want to see you succeed.
And maybe the most important step after all: rest. That’s right, rest! After all the cleaning work, don’t forget to give to yourself what you deserve and take out time to just rest it all out.
Happy spring (cleaning)!