If you’re anything like me, the thought of the annual spring clean usually brings a heavy sigh – surely it can’t be that time of year already, right? I was raised by very neat parents in an immaculate house, but with that came moments of horror for my sister and me.
We’d come home from school only to find our cupboard contents in a pile on the floor because my mom had chosen to “spring clean” that morning (truth be told, this happened more than once a year), and there was no time for sleeping in on the weekends and during school holidays – we had to help her clean the house every morning before we could even think of playing. We also had to do the dishes every night, as we were never allowed to go to bed with a sink full of dirty dishes.
There are worse ways to grow up, so I can’t complain (although I did then!), but I learnt to take what she taught us about cleaning down a few notches and have managed to get by just fine – and in a clean house. What has always stuck, however, is how she’d say to always wait for the August winds to stop and the first spring rainfall to settle the dust. I’ve tried to stick to this, but our seasons have become so unreliable (I’m looking at you, global warming) and our spring rains often only come in the second week of October.
Take recently, for example. It was the first week in August and I woke up with a bee in my bonnet to wash the curtains, knowing full well there would be lots more wind and dust to come. Still, I now have clean curtains, which does help a bit with my allergies and has zhooshed up my home again – after all, minus a layer of dirt, the curtains are a different colour. I know I have now woken up the beast, however, and I’ll spend the next few weeks working my way through each room.
“The mind can be a landfill of toxic thoughts and memories, so it’s time to do a thorough mind cleanse as well.”
It’s not just the rooms and cupboards that need to be cleaned out. The mind can be a landfill of toxic thoughts and memories, so it’s time to do a thorough mind cleanse as well. Oddly enough, this is the kind of cleanse I struggle the most with. I have done juice detoxes and even “man cleanses” many times, but tackling the waste that stores up in my mind is not so easy.
I had a lecturer at university who showed us how our minds were like glass jars – clear and ready to be filled with fresh, new ideas and thoughts. He then took stones of different sizes and some fine sand. He first placed the larger stones in the jar, explaining that these were more abstract parts of our mind such as creativity, happiness, peace of mind, calmness, etc.
He then added some of the smaller-sized pebbles and shook the jar a bit, as these fell into place. These were activities we had to think about every day: going to work, getting the shopping done, planning our next meal, etc. You can only fit a few of these in the jar at one time, even though there still appears to be plenty of space left.
And then he took the sand and poured it into the jar. The ideal is not to let too much sand squeeze in-between the stones and pebbles, leaving enough room for movement. However, it only took a gentle tap for the fine particulates to run into all the crevices and spaces between the stones until there wasn’t a gap. They quickly became packed so tightly in the jar, preventing the stones from moving.
These sand particles, he said, were our subconscious thoughts: the good, the bad and the ugly. Without any space to move, it is difficult to clear out the jar (or access our stones and pebbles) and rather than express our creativity or work through our to-do lists, the landfill of our mind slowly overflows leaving us stagnant and frustrated. This, he said, is when you know it is time to empty that jar carefully (you only want to remove the old, outdated ideas or negative thoughts, while retaining all the good) and start filling it all over again – and try again to prevent too much loose “sand” from occupying our minds.
I am at that stage – my jar has overflowed. My stones and pebbles are trapped and the sand is packed tight. This is how I know it is time for a mind detox. The only question is how exactly I’m going to approach this cleanse this time. A visit to the hairdresser and recent trip to the bush were a good start, but what is next? While I think on this, I’ll work on the rooms in my house and maybe, just maybe, I will shake things loose enough to get the fresh perspective I so dearly need.