Spring Cleaning

Jesse Russell

Spring has sprung, and with it comes Spring cleaning. Dating back to antiquity, various cultures
have utilized the start of Spring to clean house. On the superficial level, this implies dusting the curtains
and tidying up the living quarters. Yet we can also approach Spring cleaning from a metaphorical
perspective and see how it can be applied to our soul’s living quarters – our bodies. After a long and
often sedimentary Winter season, Spring offers us an opportunity to get moving and get things flowing,
clearing out the excess and cleaning up our insides so that the vibrancy of Spring can blossom both
within us and around us.
Cleansing our bodies is an essential practice for health and vitality. We are constantly
accumulating environmental toxins through the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we
breathe. Our bodies do a miraculous job at clearing out as much as they can, but like any other cleaning
device, it too needs to be cleansed of the excess residue that builds up over time. As the toxins
accumulate, the residue increases, and the body needs to work harder and harder to try to clear out the
deleterious substances which are continuously finding their way in. This requires energy, energy that
could otherwise be used to restore and replenish the body and create a feeling of renewal allowing both
the body and mind (which exist interdependently and not separately) to feel refreshed.
At the core of Yoga philosophy and practice are tenants which are rooted in cleanliness or purity
(shaucha) as well as discipline and austerity (tapas). Practices such as fasting, cleaning the body
outwardly, and cleansing the body inwardly through different cleansing actions (kriyas) and consuming
pure/organic (sattvic) foods/beverages are utilized to create a sense of balance and harmony in the
body/mind. When the body is clean and healthy, the vital energy (prana) can flow freely and supply the
body/mind with all that it needs to function optimally and ward-off disease. Feelings of joy, peace, and
vitality emerge effortlessly.
In addition to physical cleansing, mental cleansing is often needed, especially in this age of
information. With computers at our fingertips virtually 24/7 and screens feeding us all sorts of
information, our minds undoubtedly collect excess as well. Stress, fatigue, anxiety, depression; our
minds are overfed and overburdened due to a constant barrage of information. Cleansing our minds
requires ceasing the consumption of information or, at the very least, reducing our intake. If we
constantly eat food, the body cannot digest it. If we constantly consume information, the mind cannot
digest it. A respite from consumption allows for things to digest and assimilate. Meditation is like a colon
cleanse for the mind (and likewise, it’s not always the most pleasant or enjoyable cleanse, but it does
the trick).
A little bit goes a long way. There are many intense cleansing techniques and programs, but a
gentle approach is enough to do the body/mind wonders. If the house is very dirty, it’s not going to be
fully cleaned in one day. Realistically, nothing will ever be perfectly pure. Becoming a zealot of
cleanliness and purity often creates more stress than it eliminates. But we all deserve to experience the
bliss and peace of a clean home, a clean body/mind. And as the seasons turn, Spring serves as a
perpetual reminder that it’s worth taking a few days to tidy up, clean shop, and flow onwards feeling
refreshed and renewed.

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