What does Spring Cleaning really mean? Doesn't it feel natural that this is the time of year that we would feel inspired to "Spring Clean"?
There's no coincidence! This is the time of year that nature starts to rebirth itself into a new chapter. It's the beginning of the year to come, and we start off with remembering that winter is the time to come inward, reflect, and be dormant as an internal energy and intention is cultivated. Then, spring rolls around and life begins to sprout. The atmosphere starts to change again from a cold dry to a cold wet, to a thawing out as the sun increases its light upon us with each day.
The little critters of nature make their way about and a sense of renewal is happening. This is the time of year that a natural and inherent wisdom reminds us to detox, to let go of what was and to embrace what is here now, and what has yet to come.
Nature is whispering in our ears what it means to live according to the seasons and that by doing so we can remain ahead of the disease game (not that it's actually a game.) We spring clean so that we can get the circulation going so that the blood can get moving. Foods such as beets, celery, cilantro, limes, chlorella, carrots, and sprouts of all kinds help to stimulate not only the liver but also lymphatic functions. It is this time of year that we are in a window where the food has been scarce (typically back in the day) and we start to see new life sprouting to start the process of eating cleaner and lighter. This is after a heavy winter that nature encourages us to lighten up.
But, this isn't the only place that we are reminded to "lighten up." Some of us tend to spring clean our homes/offices, this time of year especially. There's no coincidence with what happens internally and in our minds, and with our external environments. Our homes are a reflection of our inner dwelling. The next closest experience to being inside of ourselves is being inside of our homes. I remember learning in holistic school years ago two important thoughts for consideration and application: 1) We can tell the quality of a persons' healthy (usually) by what the person has in their kitchen cabinets. 2) We can usually tell how a person thinks and lives in their minds/hearts by what their home looks like.
There is something very powerful to be said when we understand cleanliness and organization and how this reflects us and upon us. There is also something to be said when we open up our kitchen cabinets and see what stares back at us, in the sense that good, wholesome and natural foods, versus packaged, cartons, canned, and even what medicines (spices and herbs versus aspirin, Pepto-Bismol, Nyquil, and other over the counter and/or pharmaceuticals.) I remember learning that the kitchen is the first pharmacy, but that's another article I'll write in the future. It is possible to have a balance with fresh and not so fresh but come to my cooking classes and you'll learn about this, or wait until I write an article on it.
It is this time of year that the carpets get shaken, the windows will start opening, the birds will be seemingly chirping louder and more. Dusting will happen. Sweeping, mopping, vacuuming to the level of a deeper cleanse (which is the house's version of a detox.) I remember growing up that my mother would also change the furniture around. It was kind of exciting and provided a different perspective, sort of a new way of looking at things. We would be listening to Italian opera with the doors and windows open. The smell of cleansers, the sound of the washing machine washing the winter bedspreads and curtains, as the new ones for spring were placed in position.
Nowadays, as I cleanse my home, I use all natural cleansing agents. The sheets and comforter are replaced per season. Incense infuses the air, as chanting/mantras fill the atmosphere. (Though, this is done regularly, but you get the point.) A sense of freshness and cleanliness resides here. When anyone visits the first thing they usually say is "your place feels so calm" and/or "your place feels so light and clean." I take pride in this for sure. As I shower regularly, I also detox as needed, and my home, car, and office reflect that. That's just me though.
In both Ayurveda and Traditional Chinese Medicine, there are sciences that govern placement and directions (North, South, East, West, and directions in between.) In Ayurveda, the science is known as Vastu and in TCM it is known as Feng Shui. Both systems are considered to be helpful in understanding the "personality" of any space that is occupied by us. Did you know that? Our personal spaces do in fact have personalities. Some that may align with us and others that may not be supportive. In both Vastu and Feng Shui, there are some guidelines in regards to cleaning up and discarding your space, "does it serve a purpose?", "is it used", "is it benefiting you?", or "do you need it?" Based on your honest answers these guidelines can help you to make decisions in how to let go of things. Personally, I've always supported the notion of Zen as much as possible and when it has been practical. A minimalistic approach creates a sense of lightness, especially when the attachment is as heavy anymore. This applies inwardly and outwardly. (Food for thought.) Oprah would talk about organizing and cleanliness. She would say "compartmentalize, compartmentalize, compartmentalize" meaning that things of like nature belong together and that this was a great way to keep order.
Ayurveda speaks a lot about the "5 Senses" and the 'healing" thereof. The 5 senses are smell, taste, sight, sound, and touch. Each of the 5 senses corresponds to the 5 elements, which are Earth, Water, Fire, Air, and Space. The relationship of the elements to the senses is Earth = Smell, Water = Taste, Fire = Sight, Air = Touch, and Space = Sound. For our spirit, the 5 senses are the primary ways we interact with the world. They are the means in which something as subtle as spirit can play as humans, having a human experience. It is understood in Ayurveda that by supporting the health and well-being of the senses we can support our overall health and well-being. Additionally, Ayurveda suggests that the easiest way to do this is by spending time in nature as much as possible. I would add that bringing nature into our homes is just as equally as important being that generally, we spend much time there than anywhere else, usually.
With regard to the 5 elements and the Doshas, the relationship is as such: Vata = air and space, Pitta = fire, and water (a little bit), and Kapha = water and earth. Vata predominant types tend to be erratic, ungrounded, unstructured, and mobile. This is the nature of the wind. It is unpredictable and benefits from being grounded more, with and through some structure. Pitta predominant types tend to be structured, controlled, and focused. The nature of fire is to be warm, sharp, and piercing, and benefits from being softer, more fluid, and patient. Kapha predominant types tends to be stagnant/sedentary, grounded, heavy, and hard to motivate, and benefits from being pushed (being strongly encouraged), overall increased movement and stimulation of all sorts.
HERE ARE SOME THINGS TO ENCOURAGE OVERALL SPRING CLEANING THAT SUPPORT THE 5 SENSES AND 5 ELEMENTS:
1) TOUCH AND WHAT'S INSIDE: It is a good time of year to go through closets, draws, and any other space where things may be stagnant and to thoroughly discard anything that isn't serving any longer. This applies to things in the kitchen cabinets and closet(s), along with the shelves in the refrigerator; creating the opportunity to invite new things in as the old things go out. Moving things around and/or out can be very positive and uplifting stimulating certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health. Additionally, the quality of products that you put on your skin such as natural fabrics, natural oils for perfume, natural soaps for cleansing, natural shampoos, natural deodorants, and any natural hygiene products all affect the sense of touch and will have an benefit depending on quality. In Ayurveda, we say "if you wouldn't eat it, why would you put it on your skin?" Substances that touch the skin, that are positive and uplifting stimulates certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health.
2) SMELL: Light some incense. Get some candles (more natural in smell but not with all those fake chemicals that smell like spring.) I know it can be a little costly but breathing in such toxins may cost you more in the long run, so spending a little now saves you spending more later. Isn't your health worth it? Alternately, you can also purchase aromatherapy oil burners or diffusers that release lovely scents in the air. Scents that are positive and uplifting stimulates certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health.
3) SOUND AND WHAT WE HEAR: Play some happy, light, "sacred" music to help cleanse the spirit of the home. Remember that the sounds that we infuse in our homes will hover over us like a cloud. What sounds come out of your mouth? What sounds fill your home? Are they more positive than negative? Sounds that are positive and uplifting stimulate certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health.
4) SIGHT AND WHAT WE SEE: What do you see? How about buying some plants, or more plants. How about adding some freshly cut flowers or flowers that you can plant outdoors later? Not to mention that some flowers may emit a certain aroma and this adds to the scent category. Things you see that are positive and uplifting stimulates certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health.
5) TASTE AND WHAT WE TASTE: What you put in your mouth can either be considered medicine or a poison. What are you eating? What are you drinking? What is the quality of both? What's in your refrigerator. Is the food fresh or old? Are you planning a detox? Things you eat, that are healthy, positive and uplifting stimulates certain brain chemicals that promote optimal health. If you'd like to know more about detoxing the physical and mental body, check out this article HERE.
DISCLAIMER: This information is meant for educational purposes only and not considered medical advice. Any changes in lifestyle should be reviewed with a qualified practitioner and/or primary care physician if you are currently under their care for specific conditions.