Spring has sprung, or so the saying goes when it comes to budding branches, flourishing flowers, and the familiar tickle of allergies in the air. The sun is out a little longer and the birds are singing a little louder. Everything is starting fresh, so it’s no wonder we like to revamp our living spaces with some good old–fashioned “spring cleaning.” Fun fact: “spring cleaning” traces its origins far back in Chinese, Iranian, and Jewish traditions, but today it’s a worldwide affair. There is something intrinsically satisfying about a clean home. All the sunny windows are clear, the faint scent of lavender or lemon is in the air, and you can see your home in a new light. Maybe it’s not the same as when you moved in, but that’s sort of the point, isn’t it?
When we settle into our new home, we start with a space with a roof, a floor, and some walls, and we decorate it, furnish it, paint it, and make it our own. Sometimes the chores pile up or we accumulate clutter over time, but that’s what spring cleaning is all about—starting over and making something new again. The same thing can be said for our own mindfulness, if you really think about it.
“Mindfulness” is a term that’s making the rounds these days, which is great, because we can achieve far-reaching benefits when we, well, put our minds to it. Simply put: “mindfulness” is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations without judgment or interpretation. Often used as a therapeutic technique, mindfulness is encouraged—and shown—to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and even pain in some circumstances.
So what does mindfulness have to do with spring cleaning? Actually, it’s a pretty fair comparison. When we clean our spaces, we’re sweeping away dirt and dust, and wiping or clearing away grime. When we downsize our possessions, we’re shedding what we no longer want and making room for what we need. The same is true for our minds. As we go through our lives, our years, and our days, we accumulate all kinds of experiences. Some experiences can leave lasting, positive impressions on us, while others can be more challenging.
But that’s just it! It’s challenging to keep a tidy home, but cleaning your space means you’re nurturing the things that make that space a home, the things you want to keep and that are important to you. When you clean your symbolic home, it can sometimes be a difficult process, but it gives you more room to appreciate the mindset you’ve cultivated. This year, while you’re sweeping the floor, imagine you’re clearing space in your own mind. If you’re throwing things on the yard sale or donation pile, think about how your mind could also use some downsizing. As you stand back, look at all your hard work, put your hands on your hips, and see that lovely home of yours sparkling right back at you. Don’t forget to be proud of yourself and really enjoy the moment. Because mindfulness is all about living in the present and there’s no place like home.