Since January, I’ve been in the process of cleaning out and overhauling our home. It has been no easy undertaking but one that has truly lightened our load around here. While I do not consider myself a materialist, I will admit to being a sentimentalist and that, paired with my love of the outdoors, has led to some neglect of our interior spaces.
Last night as I was preparing for a class, I came across this post that I wrote a couple of years ago. Re-reading it, I could remember what inspired it the first time, and as I pondered it last night, it took on a new meaning for me. I’m reposting today as a reminder of the benefits of a good Spring cleaning–domestically and spiritually.
Some think it’s holding on that makes one strong; sometimes, it’s letting go. ~Sylvia Robinson
Last night, I was reading a meditation on the freedom of letting go. Barbara Johnson shares this analogy: “Letting go is like cleaning out your closet. You may not want to do it. You may want to hold on to all those things in case you want to wear them again one day—remember, the favorite pink shoes from 1996 or the hat you took to the beach (before your child was born). That clutter impairs us from seeing what is available. As you clean out your closet, you find that great black tee shirt that fits just right or the missing camisole you need to go with your blue sweater.”
Barbara Johnson then makes this statement: “It is not easy to turn loose of hold habits or resentment, but when I do, I am rewarded with a great sense of freedom, as though my spiritual ‘closet’ has been decluttered.”
I will admit that I am a pack rat both literally and figuratively speaking. Having been a preschool teacher on a shoe string budget, I learned to salvage or recycle any item that could become a paint tray, makeshift book shelf, homemade toy, or a playground item. That “illness” spread into my own home where a guest bedroom spent a year as a “holding place” for possible craft activities, woodworking projects, house paint supplies, etc. It took me a good week to get that place organized and thrown out, but when I did, I was able to create a wonderful art studio for my daughter and me.
In terms of my spiritual “closet” I know I have a tendency to wear the same things over again—I will continue to analyze a problem that is no longer relevant or worry about an issue over which I have no control. My thoughts become cluttered by things of the past rather than focusing on the present or future. It’s amazing though—when I take the time to clean out the old issues and concentrate on new solutions, like organizing and prioritizing, I feel so much better.
Permitting ourselves to let go of the anxiety, negativity, or pain not only supports our spiritual development but also our mental and physical health. It also gives us the opportunity to grow as human beings—learning new things about ourselves, for example, that we are resilient, that we do have some choices we can make, and that we grow stronger with each new transition in our lives.