The birds are singing, the temperature’s rising and the daffodils are blooming down here in Surrey. It’s that time of year again. The vernal equinox is fast approaching (March 20th), and the days will soon be lengthening.
Spring is a natural time of transition. An increase in light can invigorate and lift energy levels from the doldrums of winter. The new growth of plants and flowers is a powerful reminder of the turning of the seasons, and relates strongly to ideas about regeneration and renewal. In temperate climates there is a ‘greening’ of the landscape that occurs, where the natural world seems to pick up pace and vigour.
I’ve taken advantage of the recent bouts of sunshine and dry weather to do some much needed spring cleaning. For the past few days I’ve been reorganising, dusting, washing, and airing out the house. Things I no longer need are being given away. My house is tidier and fresher because of it, and I notice that my mind is following suit.
Spring cleaning is actually an old tradition, and has associations with many different cultures. In the Middle East, where the New Year begins on March 21, homes are cleaned just before this time. The process is known as ‘shaking the house’ in Iran. In the Jewish tradition, homes are cleaned before the memorial feast of Passover. And in Christian Orthodox traditions, homes are typically cleaned around the time of Lent.
Personally, I find that spring is an excellent time to stimulate inner growth. And an important step in making inner changes is to clean house. Just as homes undergo a cleansing process, we can also adopt a cleansing process in the mind. This may involve dusting off the mental cobwebs in order to evaluate which beliefs and negative thoughts are getting in the way of moving forward and living life to the full. We may need to enter into a process of internal review and appraisal, evaluating what no longer serves us and getting rid of it. We may be holding onto certain emotions and memories that are causing difficulties in day to day life. Our hearts and minds may need to be cleansed. We may need to work on surrender and letting go.
Consequently, I view spring not only as a time of transition but as a time of preparation. Think of a garden. In order for new growth to occur, you often need to do some weeding first. You must prepare the ground, rake it over, clean it out, and make space for the new plants. It’s like this with life, too. For real, lasting changes to occur, there needs to be the proper foundation laid, and enough space for them to take root.
Over the past few years, I’ve noticed an increase in people not only asking about, but entering into counselling and psychotherapy during the spring season. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. It’s all about a desire for making changes, renewing relationship with oneself, and opting for growth over stagnation – many of the things that this time of year symbolises. It’s about going in for some spring cleaning.