New Moons are always times for planting seeds, getting started on new projects, and giving ourselves an opportunity to make a fresh start. Today with the energy of the new lunar month (last night the New Moon and a solar eclipse in Taurus), we might feel inspired to do some Spring clearing and cleaning. If you’re anything like me, I try to do this as I go along, but with the sunlight streaming in the windows and the days growing longer each day, I find more reasons to do an in-depth Spring Cleaning. The Taurus New Moon brings us in touch with that which is right beneath our feet and all around us. How can a good clearing and cleaning help us make a fresh start in other areas of our lives?
Feng Shui and Reasons to do Spring Cleaning: The task of spring cleaning can seem daunting, so much so that we sometimes put it off. One of the best reasons to consider starting your spring cleaning, if you haven’t already done so, is to clear the energy blocks that a messy, dirty, disorganized home has created. The goal of Feng Shui is to live in a harmonious relationship with your environment. Feng, meaning Wind, and Shui, meaning Water, represent both the umseen (Feng/Wind) and the seen Shui/Water). Energy is both Feng and Shui, and our own energy is affected by the energy in and around us. Think for just a moment about one place in your home or office that is pulling and trapping your energy. I go right to the closet and the 4 bags of recycling that sits in my home office. Imagine how those two areas are blocking the flow of energy in my life. You have your own areas that are trapping your energy, and for those reasons alone, it is vital to your heal, well being, and prosperity that you do find a way to tackle the spring cleaning projects that await you. Feng Shui provides reasons and a system for clearing and balancing the energy in your home.
Clear Clutter. This has become a word we hear over and over, and that is because we tend to amass too much of everything. We have a disposable society where we each generate a great deal of trash, recycling, and waste in a very short amount of time. Clearing clutter helps us realize more clearly what kinds of things we have piled up in our homes and offices. Julia Cameron in her book, The Artist’s Way, recommends doing ongoing clutter and recycling projects in little, short bursts of time. Set you alarm for 5 minutes, and clear all the surfaces in a room or throughout your apartment. Go to your drawers or closet right now and pick out 10 items that can be recycled, and put those in a bag by your front door. The next time you leave the house, take the bag with you and drive to the nearest drop off for Goodwill or the thrift shop. If you have some good clothes that you just don’t wear anymore, and want to earn a little extra cash, take those clothes to a consignment shop. Same thing goes for the extra dishes, cookware, glasses, or other utensils that are creating an overflow in your kitchen cupboards or drawers. Pack up the books you have already read, and carry them to the local used book store, or donate them where they are needed. The local shelters, assisted living facilities, or think about your elderly neighbors or friends who are living on a fixed income, and pass our items along to them. On a fixed income, a new book is a luxury.
Create empty space. One of the universal laws of nature is that two objects cannot take up the same space. Similarly, we can really only do one thing at a time. When we fill up every nook and cranny of our life (time and space), we leave no room for anything new to come into it. If we are hanging onto old clothes (trapping our memories and our energy), there is no room for newer, more appropriate clothes. Our lifestyles change, the climate changes, our needs change, and our tastes change, so don’t be afraid to get rid of things that you no longer wear, need, use, or like. Go right now and, being brutally honest with yourself, pick out 5-6 items you have been hanging onto, pack them up in a box or sack, and set them next to that other sack by the front door. When you’re finished reading this article, hop in the car or on the bus, or walk on downtown to donate your items. If you live near El Estero Lake, it’s an easy walk to the Goodwill trailer by the school and church. Get out and enjoy the beauty of Monterey, and the feeling of relief of getting rid of things you can do without. Empty some shelves and drawers, and leave space. Clear your calendar, and make a decision to eliminate some task, chore, or energy-draining commitment you have. Say “No, thank you” to what takes your energy, and “Yes” to extra time, space, and a clearer mind.
Set new intentions. A new start Make a short list of what you would like to attract into your life, and a similar list of what is ending, being released, or no longer adding to your life and vitality. Write out a list of what you would like to focus on, attract into your life, and create. Include different areas of your life to meet the needs of body, mind, emotions, and spirit. If you have a big intention say losing 10 pounds or eating a healthier diet, break the intention down into small steps you can achieve en route to the bigger goal. For example, one small step might be increasing the amount of water you drink or replacing a cup of coffee for a glass of juice. You don’t need to give up something completely, but every now and then, substitute something that is nutritious for something that is of no value or is not so good for you. Take a 5 minute walk today, and increase the time you walk tomorrow. Go to be a bit earlier tonight, or wake up a few minutes earlier in the morning. Meditate or pray for a minute, and up the time next time. Clean out the kitchen cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator before going shopping.
Take one step forward. Do one thing that starts you on the path to forming a new habit or achieving one of your intentions. If your intention is to get more active, go out and take a short walk, or head out to the local pool for a swim. Go to one yoga or spin class. Take one step at a time, and don’t put yourself under pressure to make a lifetime commitment. Build the new habits, piece by piece. Ride your bike along the water, or get a friend to take a walk with you. If you need more play or enjoyment in your life, get out and listen to some live music, or take yourself to tea. Do a self-guided tour of the local art museums, or even just one. Go to the library and pick out a new book. Spend some time there browsing for ideas for another intention (say taking a trip or learning Spanish). Every day, take one small step towards one of your intentions, and soon you will see how the energy and commitment grow naturally.
Plan Menus and Make Shopping List: Good nutrition takes some planning. Make a list of menus you can make with just what’s on your shelves or in the fridge right now. Learn to plan your menus and shopping trips so you don’t waste a lot of money binge buying when the cupboards look bare. Make a grocery list, and stick to it. Decide which foods you need to stock up on, and which ones you prefer to buy fresh as you need them. This is part of your Spring Cleaning project and part of getting a fresh start. With seasonal changes come changes in our eating, sleeping, exercise, and energy. Thinking about what you eat, how you eat, and how you shop and prepare food, enables you to use your energy more wisely.
Make a Spring Cleaning Action Plan. Think about what areas of your home need Spring Cleaning attention. You can start with the hardest area first, or you can start with the easiest. The former gets the toughest job done first. After than, everything seems easier. The latter enables you to feel successful in a short amount of time, and may be more motivating. Whatever you decide, make the process work for you. One thing that happens when we struggle to get to our major clean and clear projects, is that we are already exhausted and tired. It’s that time of the year. We’ve all been working very hard and probably all need a rest. Feng Shui is about releasing blocks, breaking through blocked energy (the stuff that tires us out), and getting energy flowing again. Today, just make a plan of action. Then each day, dedicate an hour or two to tackling one of the actions on your plan. You may find, as I often do, that thinking and fretting about how to get something done, takes up much more energy than just doing it. Each day, do what you can, and keep doing that day after day. For the next two weeks I’ll be posting some ideas about how you might approach different areas where energy tends to get blocked. We’ll go through each room of the house and we’ll include a few ideas about home offices and studios. Include in your action plan what the payoffs and rewards are for you doing this Spring Cleaning.
Get Motivated. Find reasons to make this whole process of Spring Cleaning worth your while. Today, being influenced by the energy of the New Moon (new beginnings, setting intentions, planting seeds), opens a pathway toward the Full Moon in two weeks. Use this two weeks so when the Moon reaches fullness, you can celebrate all you have cleared up, cleared out, set in motion, and accomplished.
Here are some ideas about Spring Cleaning from different cultural perspectives. Think about what about your life is worth celebrating with a spring cleaning preparation.
Cultural Reasons and Practices:
Nowruz (Persian/Iranian, Zorastrian holiday) of New Year (first day of Spring). The tradition called, Khaneh Tekani (meaning ‘shaking the house’) is when the family cleans, clears, repairs, and prepares the home for the new year. Every part of the house is cleaned, the gardens are cleared out, the house is repaired and often repainted, and fresh flowers and incense are burned to clear out the old and welcome the new. The ritual of cleaning and fixing things up is akin to ridding ourselves of all the old, unwanted or worn out habits and thoughts.
Passover/Pesach, the Jewish annual celebration commemorating their exodus from bondage in Egypt, the house is cleaned from top to bottom, removing all chametz. Literally, chametz refers to any grain that is not kosher, however it takes on a broader meaning to include for some, anything in the house that might represent the spiritual chametz-egotism or oppression. The chametz is sometimes given away, stored to be bought back after Pesach, or burned in a symbolic bonfire.
Eastern Orthodox Christian traditions often do a complete house cleaning during the first week of Lent. Started as a custom in Scotland and now practiced in Ireland, New Zealand and parts of North America, Hogmanay is an annual house cleaning.
In many countries, cultures, and families (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Laotian, Vietnamese, and others), the lunar new year marks the New Year. This time is celebrated as the Spring Festival (Pinyin Nongil xinnian-Agrarian Calendar New Year) is one of the most important holidays of the year, and it is a time to clear and clean house prior to the turning of the calendar. Days before the New Year begins, the Kitchen God, Zao Jun or Zao Shen, ascends to the Heavens in order to make a yearly report on each member of the family. There are many symbolic traditions that are observed during the period before and during the New Year’s celebrations, one of the most important being Spring Cleaning. Traditionally, on the 28th day of the last month of the lunar year, the homes are cleaned. One friend warned me this year, “Don’t do anything on the first day of the New Year. Whatever you do on that day is what you will do most of the year.” One idea is that no sweeping (or any kind of housework) should be done on the first three days of the year.
Other cultures and families traditionally mark the end of winter and the beginning of spring as a time to clean out, clear out, and start anew. It’s a time when we can finally open all the windows and air the house out. It is a time when the light increases, and we can see all the cobwebs and dust that may have gathered over winter. It’s a time when we change the way we dress and live, and it’s a time when we put our winter wear away and get ready for warmer, milder days and nights. Spring cleaning helps us clear out and clean up in order to lift our spirits to start a new way of living. It also often coincides in the Northern Hemisphere with Easter, Pesach, and the Persian New Year. Depending upon the cultures and religious traditions that follow the lunar calendar, it often coincides with other religious holy days. Whatever reason you find to do your spring cleaning, it is time to get a fresh start.