It’s that time of year when we start opening windows, to clean them, and let in the fresh air. Spring cleaning is a ritual that many of us enjoy, given the relationship with renewing and refreshing. Perhaps you could even say that you feel better after cleaning your space because it feels organized and freeing, but the benefits of spring cleaning don’t stop at dusting the baseboards.
There are countless studies that have been done on the impact of environment and space on our mental/emotional/physical health. You’ve likely heard that a person’s inner world is reflected in their outer world meaning, a cluttered space = a cluttered mind. I find this to be the case so often. Let’s look at why.
Energetically, any feng shui practitioner will tell you that clutter blocks the flow of energy and stagnant energy equals stagnant life, dull feelings, and a sense of stuckness. Yuck!
Through our 5 senses, clutter is a visual busyness that keeps the brain stimulated with so much to look at, meaning we are unable to relax. Not only that, but when stimulation of one sense is so big, it dims the efficacy of the other senses; how can you hear when your mind is focused so much on the visual distractions in the space? Colour we know, also affects mood and body. Painting is a popular activity when the weather turns warmer, not only because we can comfortably open the windows to provide better ventilation, but because fresh paint feels clean, open, and we choose brighter colours. This again has an impact on how our senses are stimulated by our environment, which in turn affects our entire function and choices.
Our sense of hearing can be overwhelmed by the impact of the other senses as mentioned earlier, but there can also be auditory clutter in our space. If you are sensitive to the sound of electronics that are plugged in to charge, or operate, certain types of light fixtures, radios, traffic, or appliances, can be taking up your attention and your energy, again stimulating the body and emotions in a way you are not even conscious of, but you will be now! Considering how to declutter, clean and organize your space with regards to sound, can be the most rewarding spring ritual of all.
Tactile wise, when there is so much texture with clutter, dust, and film from living that there is no space that is free or open to feel a sense of peace, an underlying stress can take hold. To look around at an environment that could be interpreted as dirty, requiring work or effort that we don’t have time to attend to can create guilt, disappointment and judgement of our selves in a profound way that adds to our distress, keeping it alive in our bodies and hearts. Hmmm, time to clear that out.
Taste and scent can be a more obvious change once we introduce a new scent into a space. Items hold scent which lingers in the air keeping odours alive rather than allowing fresh air to circulate. Again, a significant sensory distraction that stimulates the mind and body, inhibiting it’s ability to relax, reset, and recuperate. With all of this happening in a space, the body/mind/emotions stay in a heightened active and sometimes overwhelmed state that prevents us from feeling and experiencing movement and openness.
Gabor Mate in his book “When the body says no,” talks about the important subtle influences of our experiences and environment on the body/mind/emotion relationship. The outcomes of these influences, tend not to be so subtle in their expression through the body. Mate, in a clear way reminds us to pay attention to how we are interacting with our history and spaces, whether we are conscious of the impact or not.
Spring is a time to wake up from our winter hibernation. Wake up your body, your mind, and your heart. Remember when you are doing your spring cleaning, it isn’t just your space and environment you are taking care of, it is also your mind, emotions, and body that get a fresh start. Enjoy clearing your space!