Spring is Mother Nature’s wakeup call. “Rise and Shine,” she orders. The Earth awakens in the solar radiance. The living energy, which has stayed hidden underground during the long, deep sleep of the dark season, now shifts and starts to stir. And so do we. After months of inward contemplation and holiday indulgences, we are feeling anxious to be active again.
We are suddenly more alert, attentive, antsy and enthusiastic. This is the time of year when many people take on “spring cleaning” projects inside and outside their homes. But what about inside your heart?
When spring arrives, more sunlight brightens your home as the days grow longer, and fresh air blows in once the temperatures warm up enough to open your windows. But all the light and fresh air reveal what you may not have noticed during the dark, cold days of winter: I have been doing some spring cleaning in my living space and it made me think a lot about my spiritual well-being in this context. Essentially, I am going through a spring cleaning for the heart. The reason we do spring cleaning is to get rid of stuff that takes up space, is getting old, and isn’t relevant. Spiritually speaking, I want to get rid of those things that keep me from devoting my whole soul to my highest potential.
When’s the last time you took a break from the physical cleaning, to do a little emotional and spiritual cleaning? Taking time to meditate on the ways your life may be out of sorts is even more important than reorganizing your cabinets or steam-cleaning your carpets. Maybe it’s good to consider scheduling regular intervals for some heart cleaning. I recognize my own weakness and don’t assume I am superwoman. I take a break from the hurriedness of life, examine my schedule and take an inventory of all of the ways I’m spending my time. Do my commitments reflect the things I say I most value? (Spirit, Family, Loving others?) The act of spring cleaning, or observing and assessing my heart, isn’t one more thing to add to a list of requirements. It is simply a tool that helps me live my life in an intentional way. It won’t keep me from ever stumbling, won’t make me perfect and it certainly won’t earn me any freebee’s. But it will give me focus on what is most important, it will simplify my busy lifestyle and reduce time spent on less purposeful activities and it will create a focus for reflection and meditation.
So how about while you’re spring cleaning your house, you create time to also dust off your heart. Here’s how I am going about it:
Eliminate clutter. Get rid of distractions that block your intimacy with yourself. Take an honest look at what might be interfering with making your relationship with YOU your top priority. Are you devoting more time and energy to working, watching TV, shopping, etc. or something else than you’re devoting to time with you? How much time are you really spending doing activities that nurture you such as reading, studying, and meditating? Are frazzled thoughts cluttering your inner life, or are you making time regularly for quiet reflection, and asking your heart to renew your mind? Eliminate clutter in your schedule and your mind to create space to focus on what’s truly important.
Scrub away dirt and disinfect. Cleanse dirty attitudes and behaviors and purify your soul. What kinds of filthy attitudes are lurking in your soul? Are you harboring bitterness against people who have hurt you? Do you entertain judgmental thoughts about people you don’t like? Are you infected with anger, fear, or selfishness? How do impure behaviors affect your life? Are you struggling with a bad habit or even an addiction that causes trouble whenever it rears its ugly head? Meditate about each dirty attitude and behavior, asking your heart to help you clean up and accept each specific one.
Vacuum. Suck up everyday annoyances and persistent resentments that will stain your heart if you let them accumulate. Keep short accounts with people rather than letting issues between you pile up and spill over into dirty arguments. Focus on a way that resonates with you and learns how to deal well with difficult people and those whose personalities differ significantly from yours. Whenever people offend you in minor ways, be willing to let the issues go. Whenever people offend you in major ways, be willing to forgive them and reconcile if possible. Do all you can to live at peace with others and resolve conflicts quickly and wisely.
Dust. Wipe away vestiges of the past that are hindering you from moving into the future with confidence. Be open to new ways of healing from past traumas and losses. Then patiently work through the healing process, from alternative healing and journaling to support groups and counseling. Expect that each time you deal with one layer of dust from your past, you can see a bit more clearly as you move into the future.
Polish. Make your relationships shine by serving others. Be creative about figuring out how often you can bless others through your words and actions. Remember that even a brief encouraging comment or small act of kindness can make a significant, positive difference in someone’s life.
Organize. Rearrange your life so you can dream new dreams. Clear out your minds agenda and invite your heart to show you its dreams for your life. Then build your decisions for how to use your resources (time, energy, talent, money, etc.) around pursuing those dreams so you can focus on what’s important without being sidetracked by what’s urgent. Set specific and measurable goals to help you move closer to fulfilling those dreams. Check your progress regularly, and make whatever adjustments you need to make to keep your life organized well.
Now that you know my 6 steps on how to spring clean and clear your own heart, you might already feel lightened and cheered on some level. Dusting our home and heart will eventually feel as though we can fly forward with the sun and the birds. As the first tree and flower buds, we are eager to greet whatever awaits us in the new season and we are able to feel with our whole being that spring has sprung!