Cleanse your space this spring!
Just like eating healthily and detoxing your body, why exclude your living space from a therapeutic clear-out? Throughout the year, physical objects and emotional experiences build up inside you and your living space.
Yogic and ayurvedic spring cleanses are particularly focussed on clearing out waste and toxins from the body, which we will talk about in the coming weeks. For now, let’s look at cleansing the space around us.
Start fresh: cleanse your space
Sometimes, in our living or working spaces, there are things you can’t see, like feelings or documents you put on the top shelf and never looked at again. You can’t see them, but they’re still affecting you mentally, perhaps in the back of your mind. A lot of the time, we need to acknowledge that, go looking for them and finally confront them!
How about dedicating time specifically to digging inside yourself and your home to identify what’s stopping you from moving forward this spring? Is it that grudge you held against a student who complained about your lesson, or the fact that yoga studios are closed? Would finally paying the bills help you feel like you were coping with life better?
Spring’s the start of a new year in many countries and religions, and is therefore a great time to remove unnecessary feelings or objects from our lives that might be holding us back. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that spring is an opportunity to clear out what you’ve accumulated over winter that you now don’t need. It allows you to start spring with new energy and a fresh perspective.
4 practical ways to cleanse your space!
1. Declutter and let go
‘Clutter’ is the disorganised stuff you have in your home or workplace. There’s normally a lot of it, and mine is in ‘The Shit Drawer’. Where’s yours?
It’s the stuff you’d rather not deal with just now. Or tomorrow. Or next week. And with that attitude, it grows and grows, and grows again.
So, decluttering is not that. Decluttering is finally clearing it all out and kissing it goodbye!
Don’t try to do it all at one time. Pick one area of clutter and if it’s big, focus on only part of it. Deal with that section before trying to tackle it all.
Stay green. See if there’s anything you can repurpose, recycle or give away so as not to waste.
2. (Re)organise your space
We teach our children to put their toys away so that they learn how to take responsibility for something they own. Keeping our things safe and in places where they can’t be broken is a way of valuing them and looking after them, out of respect and gratitude.
So, now that you have only the things you need or that make you happy, organise them in a way that means they’re easy to find or out of sight, if you want them to be.
New perspectives. If you’re looking for a fresh start, it might be a good time to change the arrangement of your furniture and belongings. We go on holiday because we benefit from a change of scenery! So, especially in times of ‘staying at home’, change the scenery of your space instead.
Experiment with your space and ask yourself ‘how can I get more light on my desk?’, ‘which angle of this room do I want to see when I wake up tomorrow?’ Swap things around and see how it feels.
3. Clean your space
Create a sense of health and clarity in your space, with two things to remember. Keep it natural, and clean in moderation.
One thing we can all do is avoid using the toxins in standard cleaning products which eventually poison the environment. Investigate options that are kinder to nature – there are plenty of eco-friendly alternatives these days. Think of plastic free scrubbers, plant-based soap bars or bamboo tissues. Have a look in your local eco-shops. Alternatively, to keep your space clean and fresh you could simply use vinegar, lemon and bicarbonate of soda.
Check in before you clean. This should be therapeutic, so check in with yourself and find out if it’s good for you at this point in time. Obsessive cleaning can encourage negative behaviour such as anxiety. Your spring cleanse doesn’t have an expiry date and should be a positive experience so, think about what’s right for you; maybe it’s a mid-spring cleanse!
4. Cleanse the senses
Sensory impressions such as sounds, sights or smells, can influence your experience in a space. They can stimulate both positive and negative thoughts that you might associate with a particular sound, sight or smell.
Have a sensory spring make-over this spring equinox, exploring how you could use these things to redefine your space and make a fresh start!
Sounds and music can really contribute to how you feel, even if you don’t notice it. How many times have you heard a song for the first time in years and it transported you back to a past feeling or moment? Perhaps it reminds you of when we were on holiday and they played it at the hotel every night. Depending on your experience at the time, it could bring back sadness, happiness or a mixture of emotions. Sounds can make you feel a feeling you haven’t felt in years. They get deep inside us and stay there.
Some sounds we use in yoga that can help you release are:
- gentle drums
- singing bowls
- Tibetan (meditation) bells
- chanting mantras
You don’t have to add in a new sound to your space, it can be about appreciating things that are already there that can be enjoyed more mindfully. By opening the window more often, perhaps you can bring your awareness and gratitude to these things during your classes or practices.
Listen out for:
- bird song
- wind in the trees
- bikes and vehicles passing by
- voices in the distance or nearby
- water in the pipes
- a candle flickering
and even sirens
We can be affected by the things in our sight, and there are a few aspects you can focus on when giving your space a sensory makeover. Things like light, colours and shapes can all influence how we feel when we’re in an environment.
What kind of light are you surrounded by right now? Natural light? Sunlight? Candlelight? The light from your screen? Do you like the colour of that light? Is it bright? Is it harsh or gentle?
One study (6) showed that the health and wellbeing of employees working in an office with lots of daylight improved. The employees reported a 51% decrease in eyestrain, a 63% decrease in headaches and a 56% reduction in tiredness. It’s also known to help prevent or minimise the effects of seasonal depression, increases vitamin D and improves sleep. (5)
So let’s look at ways you can maximise the light in your space:
- Mirrors reflect the light entering your room.
- Lighter colours of paint on your walls, ceilings or furniture.
- Gentle lighting. Replace harsh, fluorescent bulbs with softer, warmer ones. Consider replacing overhead lighting with the soft glow of lamps.
- Images. Think about them and make sure they represent positive things. Does that painting still represent what you need it to? Is that photo actually a good memory, or are you just attached to it? Our relationship with things can change too, so maybe it’s time for an update.
- Shapes. We’re attracted to aesthetically pleasing lines, edges and shapes. So, when you walk into your space, what’s going to make you think ‘my home’s nice’? Strong, angular shapes? Or curves and organic forms? Do you like your furniture to be centred or off-centre?
We’re more sensitive to smell than we think. I’m not just talking about perfumes or scented candles.
One incredible study has shown just how essential oils can affect our minds and bodies. People who suffered epileptic seizures started having aromatherapy massages to cause them to associate the smell of an essential oil with relaxation. When they felt a seizure starting, they could smell the oil used during their aromatherapy massages to mentally return to a place of relaxation, where seizures are less common. The result was that some people could actually reverse the start of a seizure and therefore had fewer seizures. (8)
What is it about making coffee in the morning that makes it feel like morning? What is it that doesn’t stop you loving your partner even when they’re a sweaty mess after working out? Smells alert us to danger, help us identify attraction and even experience taste.
Explore these as ways of cleansing:
- Fresh air! Open that window.
- Air purifying plants such as Devil’s Ivy
- Burning Palo santo, sage or other plants is said to have spiritual effects of cleansing negative energies. As you burn, you can visualise the intentions and prayers you have for the springtime. (7)
Incense and essential oils. Burning, diffusing, bathing, soaking, massaging, cooking, watching or making your own candles! Search for a licensed oil practitioner that could give you a hand. Or explore and choose smells that are your personal preferences or that you have nice associations with. You could even use them to help tackle any mental barriers you’re experiencing, by developing positive associations with them.
We encourage you to research carefully before buying plants, plant products and oils. Now a huge market, their extraction from the natural world is having a negative impact on the planet and many communities. Consider where you live and your carbon footprint. There are local and ethical options. For example, if you live in a country that grows an abundance of lavender, avoid shipping palo santo from South America.
A little research goes a long way!
(5) Garone, Sarah. (2020). ‘The Health Benefits of Natural Light (and 7 Ways to Get More of It)’, Healthline. Available at: https://www.healthline.com/health/natural-light-benefits#benefits (Accessed: 17th of February 2021)
(6) Meister, Jeanne, C. (2018). ‘The #1 Office Perk? Natural Light’, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2018/09/the-1-office-perk-natural-light (Accessed: 17th of February 2021)
(7) Williams, Rachelle. (2018). ‘An Ayurvedic Approach to Cleansing Your Home’, Chopra. Available at: https://chopra.com/articles/an-ayurvedic-approach-to-cleansing-your-home (Accessed: 4th of March 2021)
(8) Epilepsy Society (April 2019). Complementary Therapies. UK. Available at: https://epilepsysociety.org.uk/sites/default/files/2020-05/Complementarytherapies2019.pdf (Accessed: 4th of March 2021)