Spring Cleaning for the Soul
by Kathryn L.
It’s time to clean. It’s an ancient, cross cultural
custom as relevant today as ever. The Jewish ritual of chametz
spells out exactly when: before the week of Passover. A Kosher family will toss every
crumb of last year’s grains, in a ritualistic reenactment of
the actions of their ancestors, as they prepared for Moses’
order to rise up en masse and escape their enslavement in
Egypt. Though the mandate is merely to clean out the
leavening, in practice, every crumb and kernel must be swept
up. In the vernacular, "everything must go." No time
to wait for bread to rise; nothing but faith to eat, chametz
is a crucial part of the preparations for the sacred feast of
Passover, when dishes are changed and only unleavened bread (Matzah)
is eaten. Afterwards, the new season begins with a fresh
pantry and a clean start.
Ironically, spring cleaning is not such a sacred act for
Christians, even those who have given up another kind of
leavening for a full 40 days before Easter, reenacting Jesus
Christ’s 40-day fast in the Garden of Gethsemane by
depriving themselves of some favorite pleasure (or merely
meat) for Lent. But cleaning, driven as it is by secular
culture, is not so much about fear of God as it is fear of
scorn, happening in a mad rush before Peter Cottontail arrives—imagine my mother's horror at seeing someone else’s child reach behind the drapes only to bring up a handful of dust bunnies with a colored egg.
For a multitude of justifications, every subculture
mandates a spring cleaning; but there is only one reason we
all do it: to clear out our space (inside and out) and make
room for a new or renewed spirit. Call it what you will—liberation,
birth, rebirth, resurrection, mating season or spring recess—it
lends itself to hope, a fresh start and new growth. We clean
the spaces we live in, we till the soil we’ll soon plant in
and, by so doing, we refresh our own wintered-out souls with
the spirit of beginning again.
This year—whether you steam-clean the upholstery and
carpets, launder the drapes and curtains, wash the walls and
windows and repaint all the garden furniture, or just sweep
the floor as you do every week—go a step beyond and pay
attention to what your home has to tell you. Take an inventory
of everything you possess: What do your things mean to you,
what do they say about your life; what was it you wanted from
your life, does your home express that, does it help you have
it? The following exercise will help you clean and clear your
material clutter and collectibles, as well as your
metaphysical qualities of character, giving you the
opportunity to divide the wheat from the chaff and refresh
your creative spirit.
Making a Spirit List for Clutter and Collectibles
Look for items in your home (including furnishings) that
impede how your space functions or that elevate the function,
those that are hard to work with or comfy and cozy. Dust or
clean them while assessing their value to your spirit: Get a
piece of paper and draw a line down the center, dividing it
into two columns. This is your Spirit List. Identify which
things make you feel wonderful and which make you feel
uncomfortable. Put things that Buoy Your Spirit down
the left side. Those that Sink Your Spirit go down the
right side. Take your time; and make a note in your journal
about any feelings or questions that come up while reviewing
each of your possessions. Commit yourself to return to any
issues that arise, for further exploration.
Some things will clearly be headed for the trash. Anything
is a burden if it doesn’t make you feel good, a millstone if
it actually ticks you off—if that’s not clutter, I don’t
know what is. Surely there are 50 ways to toss your trash. If
you can’t quite face sending something to the dumpster, make
a note of your hesitation and take a first step by packing it
up for storage. Label your box with the exact contents and set
it aside to let it "season." Living without it for a
time can help you get clear on whether it ’s ultimately
headed for keepsake status in the attic, rotation to be
brought out another year, or history in a garage sale or
donation bin. Remembering the old adage, one man’s trash is
another man’s treasure, your "spirit-dampening"
items can become a gift to you when transferred to someone
else’s ownership—either in the form of cash money or a
charitable tax deduction, if not simply in the relief of
seeing them go. Turning your trash into treasure clears out
old energies that dragged you down like nothing else. However
you choose to release them—store, sell, donate or dump—let
go of all the unnecessary burdens you can.
Changes may also be in order for those things you clearly
treasure—or anything that lifts your spirit. Consider
whether you should find new and enlivening areas for them to
stand out. Ask yourself (or even "ask" each thing
itself): Are they in the right room, are they raising the
level of the room’s practical or emotional function? Is
there a better place for them to synchronize with the best use
of the room and the best expression of its meaning to you?
Everything you have should be in a spot that enhances the
room’s natural function and never diminishes it. For
example, a fragile porcelain piece doesn’t belong in a
family room where kids, dogs or exuberant adults might be
compelled to jump around, dance a jig or toss a pillow now and
again. The room is meant for fellowship; if the inhabitants
are full of energy, then the room needs to accommodate them
rather than shutting them down or risking destruction of some
favorite thing. Put the lovely but delicate porcelain where it
will be safer—in an area where subdued behavior is more
expected, like a bedroom, dining room, home office or privacy
On the other hand, every room should have something that
enhances its function. Perhaps you have a space that yearns
for a treasure? You might need to go on a hunt for one.
Indeed, such things as games, musical instruments, or a
beloved piece of art should never be secreted away in closets
or rarely-used guestrooms, where no one can enjoy them,
because they "might get broken." The purpose of
these items—to be enjoyed—comes along with an occupational
risk; and respect for the way a well-handled treasure is
constructed is part of learning how to use it properly. Any
item, which previously interfered with functionality or went
unused, can become a welcome focal point for the right room,
enlivening its energy.
Let’s not forget: Your home is your temple, with each
room expressing a different part of your soul’s needs. The
kind of spring cleaning that affects you down to that soul
level involves freshening your entire experience at home,
which could very well mean freshening up your overall décor—beyond
cleaning it, more of a spring overhaul. You are not the person
today that you were last spring. Time changes us...albeit
often in small incremental ways...but that’s why we need to
look forward and embrace our spiritual futures, instead of
hibernating in our pasts. After cleaning out the old musty
clutter you’ve accumulated in the winter months—or years—devote
some time to putting some new organization solutions into
play. Installing new organizing systems can bring a workable
regime to a faulty function and ease your daily experience
considerably. Or perk up dreary walls with a new coat of paint
that uplifts your spirit and fills your soul with joy for the
place you are in your life now.
In our new book, The Emotional House: How
Redesigning Your Home Can Change Your Life, my co-author
Dawn Ritchie and I have expanded the idea of simple cleaning
and clearing to ways of creating a completely supportive home
through functionality and décor. We have great tips for
taming the clutter, but we also offer process exercises such
as color therapy that helps you find the most beneficial
colors for your spirit, allowing for soul cleansing every time
you experience the room.
The aim is not just to select a great color palette that
matches your favorite vase and throw rugs; it's about how you
feel in every particular color vibration. There are warm
colors and cool colors (determined by their scientific
wavelengths); and your emotional and spiritual well-being is
affected by the colors you live with (just think of all those
teenagers who've painted their bedrooms black—are they
intentionally entering the Abyss as their rite of passage?).
What energies are the colors in your home showering upon you?
An "emotional house," as I am using the term, is
one that expresses and encourages the spirits of all its
inhabitants. Think of what elements need to come together to
make such a home for you and your family. In our book, we call
these elements "the Four Cornerstones" and define
them as harmony, balance, support and a stress-free
environment. Finding the "hotspots," in your
house—those areas that continuously cause stress, are
cluttered, disorganized, or filthy—will lead you to those
personal issues that express your emotional imbalance, the
chaos in your relationships, the dreams that you abandoned
along the way, and so on. We call these your "emotional
rollercoasters." Fixing these places helps you to take
control of your home and your life. Giving your house a spring
overhaul blows fresh air into your spirit and the spirit of
your family as a bonded unit. Look around your home now, and
you’ll see them—the areas in your life that need
attention. Look further and see where your "coming
attractions" will need a place in which to grow.
So. Make your Spirit List, deal with your trash and your
treasure, and begin making changes of quality to the problem
areas in your home that bring you down and hold you back, as
well as the empty areas that could accommodate something you
want to develop. You can do it! Set a goal, with a specific
time limit, to attend to at least one of these areas for this
year’s "spring cleaning for your soul."
Going Through the Fire
The process of making sweeping changes means pushing past the urge to give up, whether it’s clearing the back patio of winter debris, organizing your files and receipts
for last year’s taxes and this year’s financial responsibilities, or purging your mind’s closets of every label that no longer fits you and building a place for new ones to
develop. Go "through the fire" when the going gets tough—and it will—by asking yourself three important questions:
What will my life be like if I just stop and forget about
How will I feel when I enter this space next time, knowing
I abandoned my goal?
How will my life improve if I dig down deep, finish this
and achieve my goal?
Successfully reaching goals is not only satisfying; it is
also a self-perpetuating process. If you let it, the rush of
achievement will spur you on to do even more. When you choose
to create an emotional house, your ultimate objective is to
create a home that not only reflects, but supports the
"authentic you" in reaching for your dreams and
bringing them into your real life. Experiencing that is the
measure of true success.
To find out more about changing your life by creating an
emotional house, visit www.emotionalhouse.com.
Copyright © 2005 Kathryn L. Robyn.
All Rights Reserved.
Kathryn L. Robyn is an author, healing coach, and
Reiki Master in private practice in Los Angeles, California.
Ms. Robyn has led transformational workshops and support
groups for over fifteen years, working with organizations
such as Child Help USA, The Alcoholism Center for Women, The
Healing Light Center and Alive and Well.
She is the co-author of the new book, "The Emotional
House: How Redesigning Your Home Can Change Your Life,"
with Dawn Ritchie (New Harbinger Publications, 2005,) and the
author of "Spiritual Housecleaning: Healing the Space
Within by Beautifying the Space Around You" (New
For more information visit: www.emotionalhouse.com.
TO "FEATURE ARTICLES"