Monday, April 29, 2013

Spring Cleaning: A New Definition

Quan Yin, The Goddess of Compassion
Watches over my garden, &
reminds me to let go of past hurts
To some of us (women) spring means more daylight, warmer weather, a newer wardrobe and to others it means "spring cleaning".

As a child, the coming of spring to me was associated with the overwhelming smell of Pine cleaner as my mother scrubbed everything from top to bottom. The house was turned upside-down, windows open, curtains removed, quilts put away, old items put out for a yard sale or donation and we were expected to clear out closets and drawers of what my mom considered 'junk'. My brother and I viewed this "junk" as "treasures" and hid it all carefully away so mom would not toss it. (I still have a few little boxes of treasures put away.)

Last week, Jay & I moved my office to a bigger room in my house. It was a major move because I have almost 100 books, just as many files, programming curriculum's, art supplies, musical instruments, awards, letters, gifts and paperwork from the last 11 years of teaching. This is not including the tablets of paper with random thoughts and outlines and notes written or the other personal paperwork-bank statements, insurance and business licenses, etc. I won't even mention how many albums & boxes of photos I have. My computer its just as full with way too many e-mails coming to my inbox that I don't have time to read.

As we moved the office and I sorted through and threw out old paperwork, I thought about how much we tend to accumulate & how we attach to these things and the memories that go with them. Every item reminded me of a student or a teacher I had, or of my kids, or of experiences, both good and bad. I started asking myself if these are items I really need or if I'm just not ready to let go of the memories yet.

Could it be that our outer environments reflect what we are feeling on the inside?

Look around your classroom, office or workspace. Is it cluttered? Maybe you are feeling "cluttered" in your life & need to eliminate or delegate some tasks instead of taking them all on for yourself, rectify and  let go of old emotions or back away from  those people in your life who drain you. Is your home too clean to the point of being afraid to "mess it up"? Then maybe you are too quick to push things to the back of your memory and you need to resolve those old hurts so you can move on.

The truth is, we only really need about 20% of what we have. The other 80% of  the"stuff" we own is just clutter. We don't have to attach to anything & we can remember anything we want, anytime we want to. These excess items we hold on to are only symbols of what we want to remember on an emotional level. When we hold on to too many "things" in our physical environments, it ultimately prevents us from enjoying life as much as we could.

You can begin to teach you children and students this too, and if you make it a regular event, the "letting go of treasures" seems less traumatic.

As I've gotten older, I've adopted the habit of  engaging in a much different kind of "Spring Cleaning". Spring is a time for new beginnings. Its a good time to clear out what's cluttering & overflowing inside of us and that is where the bulk of my spring cleaning takes place. On the inside.

You don't have to wait until spring. You can do this at the change of every season, or every day, once a week or on a montly basis. Do it as much as you think you need, but make the time for yourself to do it. Its just as important as all of the other tasks you have on your "To Do" list. Time will never become available on its own. You have to make it.

I use Imagery often to help me re-focus & get rid of some of the more stubborn hurts, frustrations and memories that hold me back. Imagery is a simple process that takes about 5 minutes. It re-directs that negative or hurtful memory that you have and re-writes the painful story you or others are telling you about it. Imagery is a useful tool that anyone can use, that can help turn painful experiences and people into something more constructive, positive & less hurtful.

You can teach this method to your kids too. The more they get rid of past hurts and painful memories, the more they will understand how to live & learn "in the moment".

I've included 3 helpful imageries below for you to use for yourself or with students/kids..

Happy Cleaning!

Fish Hooks

*[For letting go of those who have hurt us. You will need about 5-10 minutes of uninterrupted time. Shut off phones and other devices until you are finished. Keep a glass of water or a water bottle nearby.]

So sit or lie down comfortably & close your eyes. For a minute just  notice the rhythm of your breathing. Now, imagine that you are in the middle of a lake, in a boat. Picture this as clearly as you can. Now picture a person who is troublesome to you, on the shore of the lake. In his or her hand she is holding a fishing rod and you can see that she/he has "hooked" you and is trying to reel you in. You may see that there are a few hooks in you and can see them digging deeper into your body as you try to pull away. You can feel the pain of each hook when you resist, so finally you grasp a hook with your hand & gently work it out from under your skin & out of your body. Imagine yourself taking that hook and tossing it away from you back into the water. Do this for each hook and tell the person to go. The person on the shore reels in the line and walks away. Wish them well. You now have wounds that you tend to by placing your hand over and imagining that they are healing. As they heal, focus on your breathing for a minute and then slowly begin to imagine yourself here, now in this room and when you are ready , open your eyes. Take a sip of water and stretch.

[You may need to do this a few times in order to feel it has minimized your conflict with this person. Do it as many times as you need.]


This imagery is very similar to the "Fish Hooks" one, but instead you will imagine that there are ribbon attached to both of you. You release that person by taking a pair of scissors, cutting the ribbons, and setting that person free. Wish them well. Repeat as necessary.

The Window

*[Taught to me by my Meditation Teacher. Good for stress management, observing a situation objectively, problem solving, and for remaining "neutral" about a situation. Kids respond well to this imagery and can learn to use it in any situation. ]

Imagine that you are sitting in front f a large window. You can see a conflict or a situation, you or others are involved in, taking place outside of the window. You watch this as it happens, seeing it all very clearly, but you are not directly involved in it. You observe it as a bystander, on the other sideof the window, not getting overly emotional and are able to see the situation more objectively. In your mind you see ways to minimize or solve the conflict. In some cases you decide to remain a bystander. In others, you decide to take action. You have control of when to take action and when to remain the observer. Intend that the situation is resolved for the highest good of everyone concerned.

*Our S.A.F.E Spaces™  for Learning & Living helps you create perfect environments  for any situation. 

Our R.E.A.Ch ™ Program is Relaxation Education for Adults & Children. 

To book a Consultation, workshop or class, or for a customized Stress Management program, for yourself, your staff or school, contact me:



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