Spring Cleaning: From the Inside Out
Let the real clean up begin!
Posted Mar 19, 2012
It is easy for most of us to see the clutter in the rooms we inhabit. Too many books, stacks of paper, knick-knacks; some treasure, some trash. Likewise, if we are lucky enough to be able to, in times of duress such as these, we have decorated our rooms to suit us. We chose the color of the paint, the art for the walls and the couch, whether we got it from the fancy furniture store or from the Salvation Army.
In the garden, if we have even a little gardening skill, we can differentiate the weeds from the flowers. Over a few years we can see in the tiniest sprout of green whether it is our Shasta daisy or yet another gnarly weed. We plant our gardens to suit our tastes. Vegetables? Your choice. Flowers? Whatever makes you happy!
But, it is harder to see the rooms that inhabit us, or the gardens that grow within. And it is harder still to de-clutter those rooms and weed those gardens. Our inner world is often like a house we inherited from our parents, fully furnished and full of their stuff. We walk around in the rooms and barely notice the mess that fills up the house. Old messages, like someone else's scrapbooks; old photos (and not the ones with us smiling) from a life long ago; rules and lists, and shoulda's and oughta's and wishes and hopes, fill every corner. The closets are stuffed with regrets, resentments, obsessions and a rather large and dangerous pile of junk. It could topple at any minute and crush us. But we hold onto it anyway. There may be a treasure buried there, but the house is too full and even if there is buried treasure, we don't get to enjoy it. It is lost in the mess.
Who will we be if we really clean out the inner rooms? Too often, we know ourselves by these very trappings: old stories; limited beliefs; scripts from childhood; old wounds; and outdated fears. The things that the hoarder believes to be essential to his or her well-being are not much different than the things all of us hold inside, long after their usefulness has gone.
We have not, most of us in any case, taken the time we need to sort though that which fills our inner rooms, our closets, our attics, our garage and our ever increasing number of storage units... for all that extra stuff. We have not de-cluttered our hearts and minds. We have not taken the time to look at what we carry and to choose, with consciousness and from our own values, what to keep and what to let go.
How much lighter a room feels when we have done our spring cleaning. How much lighter our hearts and minds, when we have dropped away the things we cling to.
It is time for a dump run!
It is time to weed!
Some simple questions will help us along the way.
- Is this true, this thought I have?
- Do I need it?
- Does it serve me now, or is it a ghost from the past?
- And what do I most deeply know to be true?
- This bad feeling that I am experiencing, can I replace it with a smile?
- If I dance, will it change?
- If I give of myself to another, will it transform?
And if I redecorate my inner rooms with thoughtfulness, compassion, and good will, surely I will find myself living in my true home.
Our inner world needs to be cleaned as often as our outer one. If we wash the dishes every night and brush our teeth, what is the equivalent (unique to you) of your daily inner cleansing?
If we spend time in the spring planting seeds and bulbs and in the summer weeding and in the fall, cleaning brush, what is the equivalent commitment to your inner garden?
Only you can plant the garden of your heart and only you can choose the way you furnish the inner rooms of your mind. But these are projects worth every moment of effort devoted to them.
And by the way, it is likely to be true that an outer world that is clean and calm will support a quiet and serene inner world, but the opposite is true as well.
Happy spring, inside and out!