When you think of spring cleaning, you probably aren’t thinking about 4 ways to spring clean your life. Our common conception of spring cleaning involves closets and baseboards, not our relationships and sense of freedom.
This spring I invite you to re-establish your own connection to the season and the opportunity it brings for a fresh perspective on life.
When I lived in Japan I observed their cultural tradition of cleaning at the beginning of a new year (read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing) and I marveled at how seriously they took the change in the seasons. Homes would be turned inside out. Tatami mats were cleaned and clothing and housewares were switched. Even the type of food being served had to be what was appropriate for the season.
This seemed antiquated to me coming from the West with our fast moving, 24 hour access to almost anything. Not to mention, growing up in Florida made me somewhat oblivious to the four seasons.
When I began learning more about yoga and studying the cultures and traditions of the East, I gained a new found respect for the cycles of the Earth. As I studied more yoga and Ayurveda, I recognized how growing up in the West had contributed to a distancing between myself and mother nature.
The 4 ways to spring clean your life listed below draw from the teachings of the East and offer you practical applications for a modern Western lifestyle.
My yoga teacher, Rod Stryker, wrote a book called The Four Desires. It is based on the ancient teachings of the Vedas and says that there are four areas of life we need to address in order to live from our highest potential. At any given point, there is typically one of these four desires that is more challenging than the others. That is the area where we need to focus. Choose one of the four areas (desires) listed below, dharma, artha, kama or moksha, to focus on this spring.
1. Spring Clean Your Dharma – Life Purpose
Spring clean your life’s purpose by taking an afternoon to write and reflect upon the times when you have experienced the most joy and ease in your life. Identify skills or characteristics that were present across all of these empowering times in your life. Then challenge yourself to draft a sentence or two that encapsulates what you specifically bring to the world – without mentioning a job title.
Often our western mindset places the highest importance on what we do as a career. Consider the gifts you shared as a child and what you’ll be able to offer in your later years. Think of your occupation as living rather than working.
If you get frustrated, lighten up and make it fun. Imagine yourself as a superhero and describe the powers that others see you display. If you are a visual or kinesthetic person, try drawing a picture of yourself at your best. Notice what you are doing and who you are with in the picture.
2. Spring Clean Your Artha – Health
When the weather becomes warm and the days begin to lengthen we are naturally draw to move our bodies and shed any stagnation that we built during the winter months. Spring is a wonderful time to focus on spring cleaning your health.
Ayurveda (yoga’s sister science) recommends a light cleanse in the spring to reset our minds, bodies and spirits. In the past, I felt a negative gut reaction to the word cleanse. It conjured up images of bitter liquids and hunger. That was until my friend, Sarah Hutchinson, introduced me to the Yoga, Wisdom and Wellness Spring Cleanse. Not only do I appreciate the knowledge that the women at Yoga, Wisdom and Wellness have about Ayurveda and health, but I also like the fact that you can customize this cleanse so that it doesn’t consume your time and energy. It really does what it says – it elevates your energy.
If you don’t choose a group supported cleanse, consider partnering with a friend and committing to a few simple changes like taking a 12 hour break between dinner and breakfast, walking in nature once a day and eating lighter meals for at least a week.
3. Spring Clean Your Kama – Relationships
We know that our relationships can become stale and disconnected if we don’t nurture them. However, the last relationship we tend to focus on is our relationship with ourselves. If we aren’t comfortable in our own skin we will spread our discomfort into other relationships, from our friendships to our relationships with loved ones.
Start working on your relationship with yourself by paying attention to the joy you bring to each day. Can you remember something you did yesterday that felt joyful? Most of us think about moments of joy happening every now and then, but not daily. Use the transition weeks of early spring to be like mother nature and set yourself up to experience more joy in your daily routine.
4. Spring Clean Your Moksha – Freedom
When was the last time you felt truly free? Have you been free of stress, social pressure or worry for even half of a day recently?
Spring brings new growth. We see plants and animals burst forth new life.
How can we connect ourselves to the flow of life and limit the negative tendencies of the mind? Meditation.
The practice of combining silence, stillness and focus allows us to connect to a deeper aspect of ourselves and to a freedom that is greater than ourselves.
This spring recommit to a daily meditation practice to experience more freedom.
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I hope this post has sparked an interest in one of these four areas of your life. Please leave a comment to let me know how you plan to spring clean your life!
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