If you’re anything like me, spring comes and the joy/ terror of organizing your house and preparing it to breath from the ghastly long winter is both the greatest and worst part of your year. Every year spring cleaning arrives I am astonished at the amount of CRAP that I have consumed and hoarded in 365 days, and every year I vow that next year is different… and somehow it never has been …. until this year.
In the past I’ve cleaned to essentially make space for more stuff. It has been a process of scrubbing down and unloading to muddy up and reload. This year I took a different approach to my spring cleaning and it has changed the way I experience my home, my relationships and myself within my own space. If you’re looking to up your spring cleaning game this year, consider these yogic standards to make it so that it both cleans your house and also mind, body, spirit.
- Carve out an ENTIRE day (potentially two depending on your current wreckage) to perform said spring cleaning
- Read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up
- Have a journal handy to take notes of your process and discoveries
- Read my girl Martha’s tips on Spring Cleaning
- For the actual spring cleaning of your space- check this AWESOME checklist out
- Make your goal of spring cleaning to create S P A C E
I’m not asking you to go all tiny house on me or minimalist crazy, I’m just asking you to look at the process as an opportunity to create space. When dirt settles on an item, it takes up space. When clutter fills your house, it takes up space. Make the goal of your spring cleaning to create space. Every time you approach something you are going to clean, notice if you have an inclination to ADD something to it (more food in the fridge, more furniture in a room)- pause. let it go. just create space first.
Our yoga practice invites us to create space (in the spine, in the mind, in the breath) so let’s juxtapose that with our physical space.
2. Practice Ahimsa (non-violence)
Assuming you have an ENTIRE day to do this. The day before, collect your supplies. For the actual cleaning you will need cleaning supplies, and try to elicit the practice of ahimsa with these. Look for earth friendly, eco-conscious, non-animal tested products. A few GREAT cleaning agents are already in your cabinets: Lemons, white vinegar and baking powder. However, if you don’t have time to DIY your own cleaning products, here are a few of my favorite brands.
*Seventh Generation also has some awesome spring cleaning tips: https://www.seventhgeneration.com/green-cleaning-household-tips/spring-cleaning-tips-kitchen
3. Practice Aparigraha (non-grasping)
In the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up Marie Kondo (which now is a Neflix series, yall!) encourages you to pick up each item you are cleaning/ organizing and ask yourself, “does it bring me joy?” She literally tells you to do this with each pair of socks… You make your own bold choices there… but anyhoo, notice the things that you are grasping onto not because they bring you joy, but because you think you may need them one day. Notice those items that harbor nostalgia without joy- an old t-shirt that an ex boyfriend gave you, a gadget that represented a time in your life when you were at your “peak”. Consider taking on Ms. Kondo’s exercise and thank them for the time they have had in your life and give them away. It’s someone else’s turn to enjoy those items and you have had your opportunity with them.
Consider when donating items too, where the best place for each is. Check into women’s shelters, Goodwill, Salvation Army and other local organizations. Consider making piles for each instead of just dumping everything at the Goodwill.
The above is a lovely gift we got for our wedding (ahem, 4 years ago) that WE HAVE YET TO OPEN! It hasn’t brought me any joy BECAUSE I HAVEN’T EVEN OPENED THE DAMN BOX. I have given my husband and I one more week to set a date to make the beer, or it is going to someone who will actually do this and enjoy it… speaking of, anyone interested in it in case we do not get around to it?
4. Practice Saucha (cleanliness/ purity)
Consider areas in your home that affect you on a bio-physical level, re: your air vents, your water filter, your shower head. REEEEEAAAAALLLLY clean these. If you are drinking dirty water, every cell in your body will be changed. If you are breathing tainted air, your respiratory function (which affects just about everything other system in your body) will be put at risk. Your skin is the LARGEST organ in your body. If you are showering in lime drenched water ( a common problem in Indiana), that’s what you’re feeding your skin. Deeply clean and create purity around more fundamental areas in your home. Your bathroom, kitchen and bedroom should be some of the primary focuses if you have to prioritize!
5. Practice Santosha (contentment)
“Taking stock of what I have and what I haven’t, what do I find? The things I’ve got will keep me satisfied!” When Irving Berlin wrote those lyrics, I’m pretty sure he was commenting on our widespread consumerism.
As I was going through my own spring cleaning, I realized how many candles I have accrued over the year that have never been burned.. and books HOLY SHIT HOW MANY BOOKS DOES ONE NEED? I have more books and candles that have been unread and unused… and yet I keep buying more? That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. I made a vow during this last spring cleaning to read all the books in my home and burn all the candles in my house before I am allowed to buy anymore.
We have PLENTY and yet, we are marketed to on repeat that we need more. Consider your own purchasing habits. What are some things that you have in spades and yet they are underutilized? Another example is food. What food items are in your pantry/ stock pile that just sit and sit? For me it’s salsa and rice crispies. We had 3 cans of half eaten salsa and an opened, uneaten bag of rice crispy cereal that were just rotting in their spots in the fridge and pantry.
Google the food item you have a lot of and a recipe for it. I ended up making slow cooker chicken with the salsa and rice Krispy treats for Magnolia 🙂
Salsa chicken above, rice Krispy treats below 🙂
6. Practice Tapas (discipline)
Our best laid plans usually go to shit about a day or two after we spring clean. The euphoria and the smell of clean dissipates into the squaller and disorder of our everyday lives. Have the discipline to NOT allow that. Have a place and a system for everything. Yoga is a system to create order in the mind, body and spirit- a system. Why can’t you have systems within your house to do the same? Designate homes for items. Don’t just mash them all together, but create structured specific spaces that give each item a functional, happy resting place. Have the discipline to continually build the habit (samskara) of placing these items in these places over and over again.
Also, have discipline in your cleaning process. Don’t get caught up for 5 hours on going through your photo albums or color coordinating your closet. Be efficient and effective with your time and have the discipline to stay on task.
Pictured below are some DIY toy bags for Magnolia’s gadgets. They are functional, cute, cost effective and easy to keep us disciplined throughout the week so that toys do not become the focal point of every room (and so I don’t stub my toe at 6am and freak the f&*k out).
7. Create a space for yourself
Once you have completed your spring cleaning, create an alter or an area for yourself to reflect in each day. Make sure it is comfortable, accessible and yours. Sit down after a long day of cleaning and journal about your experience in this space. Did you notice any patterns? Are there areas of the process or your home that pissed you off? Got you excited? Made you sad? What items were hard to let go of? What items do you hoard? Where can you practice more frugality? What new systems need to be put in place? How do you feel NOW in your space. Do you have more room to think, breath and be?
The space I created for myself in our guest room: puja (alter), meditation cushion, yummy incense, UNUSED CANDLES, UNREAD books I’ve been VOWING to read and re-read, a life source (plant) and rejuvenating items that bring me deep joy :).
In short sweet lovers, make space for life to happen. Don’t clutter your space with things but rather experiences, breaths, moments. See how long you can maintain this way of being, and it just might become your standard operating process. This will create yoga not only on your mat, but in your home and in your day to day life. Good luck, and happy spring cleaning!