Spring has sprung! Time to get out the whitewash and give everything a fresh coat…or maybe it’s time to try these alternative approaches to refreshing your life.
Obviously you can always do these things any time, any season, but I recommend you try these practices for spring cleansing so you can welcome summer feeling light, airy, and refreshed. So here are six things you can do to kickstart the new cycle of renewing and revitalizing your life.
Regularly. Like, every day. Start with 10 minutes if you’re not an experienced meditator. Our spring-cleaning efforts are often externally focused; we want to scrub the windows till they sparkle, give the car a wash, shed a few winter pounds. But how can we find lightness and spaciousness in the outer world when the chaos is rampant in our minds?
A consistent meditation ritual is the starting point for discovering clarity and focus in all areas of your life. If you need help getting started, click here to check out my tips on building a meditation practice. And then, by all means, go get those windows cleaned.
2. Practice Nauli Kriya
Before yoga became an acrobatic-circus-meets-bootcamp, this is where the core work was at. Nauli Kriya is one of the six purification methods (Shatkarma) in Hatha Yoga. This powerful technique massages all the organs in the abdomen—the stomach, the liver, spleen, urinary bladder, pancreas, gall bladder and the intestines—helping to maintain the health of the lower organs.
What I love about this practice is that it helps me to intelligently discover the layers of the core muscles. Mastering this technique will allow you to gather core strength in a way that's not all about hardness, but rather about developing supple, healthy abdominal muscles. This is where true core power starts, but the real benefit here is the delicious massage for the organs in the abdomen.
Forget colonics, nauli kriya will get you cleaned right out. Your digestive tract will thank you! Here’s a step-by-step tutorial to get you started.
3. Don’t Go on a Diet
Just don't. We all know they don’t work. Or…they work until the inevitable moment that you go back to gorging on all the things you’d been denying yourself— Which is not to say that you shouldn’t watch what you eat.
The best diet-related advice I’ve ever heard is from Michael Pollan’s book In Defense of Food: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants." ("Eat food" meaning eat identifiable whole foods, rather than chemical concoctions masquerading as nutrition.)
Easier said than done, perhaps. What I find to be the most effective approach is to simply, wholeheartedly, pay attention to my eating habits. Ask yourself where your food came from. How did it arrive on your plate? Take time to prepare your food, to eat it, to chew, to digest.
Celebrate the bounty of the earth with loved ones, but also, sometimes, take time to eat in silence so as to truly taste your food. Other books I’ve found helpful on the subject of food and eating that you might want to check out: Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink, and Savor by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Obviously. How can you be at peace in the temple of your body when your home is spilling over with stuff and you’re tripping over the furniture? Get ruthless on your closet, the kitchen cabinets, the storage boxes in the basement you haven’t looked at in years.
Give away, recycle, or just plain throw out absolutely everything you don’t need or use. Get rid of some furniture if you can. While you’re at it, throw that fresh spring coat of paint on the walls.
5. Plant a Garden
I happen to live on a 13-acre property in rural Ontario, so for me, this means planting a whack of potatoes in the ground and getting some serious dirt under my nails. But before I lived in the country, I lived in a 430-ft2 flat in downtown Cologne, so I know that 'planting a garden' might also mean just figuring out which herbs will survive on your north-facing window sill and getting a sprouting jar to grow your own alfalfa.
What I’m saying is: invite something green into your living space and nurture it. It will probably improve air quality, and it will definitely nourish your soul.
6. Get Wildly Creative
Once you’ve got everything all sparkly clean, make a big mess again. Start an art project. Invite your friends to dinner and cook up a meal that leaves a heaping pile of dirty dishes in its wake. Build a pillow fort in the living room. Do whatever you want, just make sure it’s something splashy, because spring-cleaning is simply a way of clearing the slate so that the next big thing can arrive.
We like to think we can do one big clean up and then somehow permanently keep everything that way, but our lives—like all of nature—are made up of cycles. We make big messes and clean them up again so that the next beautiful chaos can begin.
Spring is simply the surge that allows us to shake off winter’s slumber so that the creative juice can flow full speed. Think of your spring cleansing not as an end goal to be achieved, but as a process of renewal and rejuvenation that sets you up for magical growth.