For thousands of years our ancestors from cultures far and wide, have followed the change of the seasons to guide them through cleansing and purifying rituals to let go of the old and make space for the new. The phenomenon carries on in modern Western culture, and the purging of our belongings not only brings us that “ahh” feeling, but can bring us more energy, a better sense of clarity, decision-making and overall joy.
Take it from our friends around the world: In Iran, March 21 marks the celebration of the new year, Nowruz. During this time, they perform the ritual, khaneh takani, “shaking the house,” to bring optimism for a new season: every space in the home is scrubbed and cleansed, selected items are burned, new seeds are planted and fresh flowers fill the home to invite vibrant beauty. The Jewish have similar traditions with Passover, and the Chinese do as well when celebrating Chinese New Year. These cultures have some smart rituals we can adopt as our own!
There is an empowerment and sense of peace when our spaces are light and decluttered, not to mention the ease of knowing where your keys or favorite shade of lipstick is. Author of The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin, says, “Outer order contributes to inner calm and inner-self command”, and sites habits like making your bed every day, keeping a clean closet, inbox and fridge, are all connected to our happiness.
Some Tough Love for Your Closet
Take heed to minimalist queen, Marie Kondo’s wise words. Her smash New York Times Top seller, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, inspired millions of us to purge our attachments, and keep second-hand store shoppers very happy. It might seem like a foreign theory, but Kondo asks us to look at each item, with loving thoughts, and ask if it brings joy: Has the item served it’s purpose, or could it serve a greater purpose to someone else?
A personal ritual that’s worked for me is opening all the windows, lighting a rejuvenating candle, and livening the cleaning party with fun music. With each piece of clothing, apply these questions, and try not to let nostalgia get you:
- Does this piece reflect your current style and personal expression?
- Of the time it’s been sitting in your closet, how many times have you worn it? Do you have a real need for it?
- Do you feel a certain way, or beautiful when you wear this item? Is it functional? What is it’s purpose in your current wardrobe and is it serving that purpose fully?
- Does it fit you well, or is it an item of the past that you can let go of?
- Are you giving this item the love that it deserves, or could it suit someone else’s life better?
Remove the Small, Gain the Big
After letting go of these items, try this with other common clutter-able culprits: the fridge, pantry, desk drawers, car, book shelves, you know where your own junk demons live. Every item holds an energy, be it positive or negative, and we usually don’t even realize it until we’ve let go. By releasing attachment, we are allowing ourselves to make more concise decisions about the big stuff, like career and relationships. Just like a good sudsy run, our minds can become crystal clear.
Going for the Deep Clean
Take care of your mind and soul by doing some deep reflections on what’s happening in your life.
I suggest sitting somewhere quiet with a journal, your favorite healthy snack (my go-to is a kombucha or green juice on hot days, or a rooibos tea on cold) and thinking about these things:
- What is cluttering my headspace and heart on a daily basis that is not serving me? Too much social media? TV? Gossip with coworkers? Getting upset at uncontrollable circumstances i.e. traffic, parking, technical difficulties, etc.
- How are these pollutants keeping me from being my best self?
- Now that the pollutants have been targeted, what are a couple of specific areas I can take action to purify, and what is my tangible plan to clean out what is not serving me?
Let the Light In
Once you’ve created your purification plan of action, set your intention for Spring. Bring items into your home and spaces that ignite your inspiration. Surround yourself with photos of people who encourage and love you, beautiful art that brings you happiness, plants to add life as Mother Nature’s gifts, and any positive reinforcements to bring you to your purest, happiest self.