Spring Cleaning Our Lives
Spring is here officially, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere.
Spring cleaning is a time-honored and, one could even say, a natural ritual. After months of accumulating food and extra pounds for protection during the harsh and unpredictable winter months, spring is a time to lighten up the load. These days it usually means getting rid of extra stuff, a way to start fresh and make space for the new, just as life starts bursting forth from dormancy. For most of us, spring cleaning our physical space is not so challenging. Spring cleaning our lives, however, is not so easy. It requires a strong desire to let go of the old and perhaps the comfortable, that which no longer serves. It calls for the courage and willingness to take a harsh, realistic look at our lives and our current situations.
What thoughts and beliefs are we still holding on to that are tired and have outgrown their usefulness?
What about our living situation? Does it help our spirit soar and encourage creativity, or does it tax our nervous system and depress us, hindering our self-expression? Our physical space is a reflection of our inner landscape. For some, that’s the bad–maybe even scary–news. The good news, though, is that if we clear up the outer clutter, the resulting clarity and lightness will also be reflected in the inner world. What makes this difficult for many is that it requires the willingness to let go of the past, and perhaps the illusion of security that our accumulated stuff can represent. Yet having the courage to part ways with the old frees up our mind and opens up space for the fresh and new.
Are our current relationships a match for who we are and who we are becoming? Which of them support the highest vision of ourselves and our greatest potential, and which might be keeping us playing small, in a slowly and increasingly suffocating comfort zone?
One way to think about our relationships is using the image of a co-op garden. Voltaire ended his book Candide with this exhortation: “We must cultivate our garden.” That’s the work we do to heal ourselves, identifying our own wounded areas and doing whatever we need to do to bring about healing, whether that is using therapy, breathwork, bodywork or any other healing modality.
The co-op garden symbolizes the mutual space we have to be authentic and real with each other, a safe space for full and easeful self-expression. Both parties are responsible for maintaining that space clear. Any time we lie or withhold something, for example, it’s as if a weed takes hold of and colonizes a corner of that garden. And we know how fast weeds grow. If left unattended, pretty soon we run out of space for clear and honest communication. That’s what suffocates our relationships.
What communications do we need to make to keep our co-op garden clear? Are there any unfulfilled promises that need to be completed or unchosen, and that communication made to the other party?
As summer approaches, this is also a good time to reevaluate our diet and exercise plans. Not much need be said about that; the multilevel benefits, not only in terms of our health but also in the quality of our lives, are proven and well established. We know this.
And then, of course, is right livelihood, one of the aspects of Buddha’s Eightfold Path. Is our work a congruent reflection of who we are, an expression of our essential self and our soul’s calling? If it is not, have made a conscious choice to allow that to be OK as a means to pay the bills, and are we still finding the time to give expression to our deepest longings and sense of purpose? Therein lies our fulfillment, and the possibility of inner peace.
To make this all real for ourselves, we might consider creating a release and purification ritual, to help highlight the choices we are making. This could involve fire, or releasing something appropriate–and biodegradable, of course–at the ocean’s side, or offering it in burial back to the earth.
Whatever you do, may spring be filled with the promise of new life and with countless blessings!