Spring is near and we have been blessed with a few beautiful weather days in which I can open the windows. There is something energizing and renewing about letting in that fresh, cool Spring air. This is one of the few times each year that I actually enjoy cleaning. It allows me to feel the weight of winter lift and a joy return that only fresh air and sunshine can offer.
In this spring cleaning, there is a sense of creating space – in a very literal way, but it also extends to my spiritual self as well. Creating space for myself to think, to simply be. Life can be so overwhelming, that creating space, clearing the clutter in your physical world and in your mind, allows you to take a deep breath. To rest. To recharge and to welcome in the new, the truthful, the authentic.
Clearing the physical clutter can help improve our mood. It offers a sense of control when we clean out unnecessary items, sort through the piles of paper and other chaotic spaces and regain a sense of order. It allows you to breathe a little easier and gives you clarity. By removing the clutter and mess, you can see with fresh eyes – creating a sense of appreciation for the items which are truly important to you. Items that were buried in the clutter before now take on a place of honor. (Such as a beloved photo of my children when they were little and adorably squishy, long-buried, that is now prominently displayed.)
In much the same way, clearing the mental clutter is empowering and freeing.
What is mental clutter?
It can be any number of things. For me, it tends to be all of the worldly expectations – the “shoulds” (“I should be more successful, more disciplined”). It can also be the negative voice in my head. “Why can’t you be more patient?” Or, “Why can’t you get it together? You are always running around at the last minute.” Little, petty attacks that add up – do they sound familiar? It is also the constant mental to-do list. That slow drip of responsibilities appears small on the surface but can overwhelm you to the point of exhaustion.
How do you clear this mental clutter and create space?
First, pause and breathe.
Take a few deep breaths and allow yourself to consider what clearing your mind feels like. We are so busy, so preoccupied, that many of us have never even thought about it. What does it look like? Feel like? Put it into words, imagine it fully. There is power in naming it.
I highly recommend carving out quiet moments each day to experience silence – no phone or device, nothing other than perhaps a notebook and pen to record thoughts and observations. Become aware of the noise in your head. I am a big believer in beginning my mornings in quiet reflection. This does require me to wake up early, but it gives me a sense of perspective and connection to begin my day. I often reserve my daily commute for silence. As much as I love a good podcast or phone conversation, my mind benefits from the quiet and being able to sort things out. We take in so much information all the time, that silence offers a reset for our stressed minds.
The benefit of creating space is that by clearing the clutter, you begin to envision new opportunities and possibilities. It can allow you to see the breakthroughs you didn’t even know were there. One of my favorite books growing up was The Secret Garden, in which a young girl discovers a door to a secret garden behind a tangle of overgrown weeds. The clutter and noise of our modern world are like weeds. They will choke out joy and beauty for their own survival until you don’t even realize the door was ever there.
Deep down, I believe we all have a truth, a purpose available to us. That “secret garden” of opportunity. That is why we feel unsettled and though we’re not sure exactly what it means, we sense there is something more. The problem is that it takes space, breathing room, to figure it all out. The break-neck speed at which most of us operate never allows for such a discovery.
This Spring, as you clean and declutter your house, think about the ways in which you can clear the mental clutter as well. Create space for yourself to be silent and to listen. To connect with you who truly are and who you want to be in this world.