There is an initiation process going on. I smell the damp earth as the first signs of spring are pushing up through the ground and trees are releasing their imprisoned buds to a new slant of light. The house appears brighter inside and so I decide: Itís time for spring cleaning. I see the dust and smudges more clearly now, the faded pillows and the worn out sagging leather couch Ė flaws I didnít notice during the winter. A little dissatisfaction creeps into the happy picture. Everything good has something bad in it and vice versa. However, what I choose to give my attention to will color my overall perception. Instead of buying new furniture, I decide to engage in a cleaning frenzy: vacuuming above and below, polishing, discarding and rearranging what I choose to keep. As I spring into action to de-clutter my space, I clear out my mind, to see my goals in a different light and I announce my intentions as a way to bring them into reality.
Spring supercharges us with energy to let go. We are all taught to amass possessions. The media fuels our desire to have what others have and to show our friends and neighbors how much we have. However, we donít know how to let go; no one has taught us about loss. Thatís why our beloved junk builds up and cleaning out a closet becomes an overwhelming chore by the time we get to it. I havenít even mentioned a basement, garage or attic! Somehow, spring inspires us that we can tackle that closet or garage, to start over, to do things differently this time like plant new seeds in the garden or start different projects at work. We become more physical, getting out and doing, hiking or biking, challenging ourselves instead of staying home where it is safe and climate-controlled, our comfort zone. The temperature triggers this activity as surely as it triggers plant growth. Itís warm enough to lure us out of the house, but cool enough to prevent us from becoming sluggish.
Tap into the natural rhythm of spring by engaging in spring cleaning and other spring activities:
- Enjoy the sun. We have become so ambivalent about sunshine: Does it cause cancer or prevent it? Does it age us or help us to be more youthful and energetic? Sunshine provides us with Vitamin D for strong bones and helps protect us from colon and breast cancer as well as osteoporosis and heart disease. Did I mention the sun is natureís anti-depressant?
- Letís get physical. Spring is the season of cleaning, planting and constructing. Engaging in physical chores gets us to move and exercise. We lose track of time with these springtime tasks which is envied by even the most dedicated gym members. With exercise comes improved health and enhanced longevity. And donít forget the joy of accomplishment in completing physical chores. We cultivate a sense of purpose.
- Reconnect with the neighbors. Over the winter we have either hibernated a bit, staying inside with our family and close circle of friends. Spring is when we maintain our social networks with the neighbors. Walking by or leaning over the fence, we exchange stories and gossip, listening and talking, laughing and smiling.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. As we watch early flowers and vegetables sprout in yards and neighborhood parks and gardens, supermarkets are filled with new tantalizing fruits and vegetables, a rainbow array. We eat lighter fare, exchanging winter stews for fruit salads and yogurt, eager to shed our winter weight.
- Activate your sunny disposition. This is the season of hope and regeneration. Whatever you have been wishing for, this is the season to energetically bring it to fruition.
- Check out your roots, your spiritual traditions and rituals. Update the rituals which no longer serve you and honor those which still hold meaning for you.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com