Spring is a traditional time of renewal. In our personal lives we can use this time to become renewed by cleaning out the old stuff. Like in fall when we rake up leaves and clean our yard in preparation for the arrival of new flowers and plants in spring, this is a time when we can remove the old and make way for a refreshed sense of well-being. Following are three ways to clean the body, mind, the space around us.
The Sanskrit word mantra consists of the root man "to think" (also in manas "mind") and the suffix tra meaning, tool, hence a literal translation would be "instrument of thought". Another explanation is that the suffix -tra means "protection".
Mantras were developed as an instrument to center the mind on a particular thought; in many cases as a tool to help protect the individual chanting. The most basic mantra is OM, which is known as the primordial vibration of the universe. Generally OM precedes and is sometimes chanted again at the end of the mantra. Mantra Japa is essentially the repetition of a given mantra over and over. The continuous repetition helps build power behind the mantra. So for this spring cleaning why not try chanting this mantra to enact and amplify your abilities to remove obstacles and enhance wisdom.
OM Gam Ganapataye Namah
- or -
OM Shri Ganeshaye Namah
Cleaning the inside of your body is a vital part of staying healthy, not only physically but emotionally and mentally. Fasting has long been an excellent way of clearing the system and there many ways to approach a fast. From a yoga point of view, balance is the key to a more healthy life. Through Ayurvedic (Indian Medical system) practices, you want to cleanse the system of ama (toxic residue) which weakens the entire body. Ayurveda prescribes a five-day detoxifying fast through the use of kitchari (a rice and bean dish). Kitchari is very easy on the system and allows the body to naturally detoxify without over taxing the system, which a strict fast or nutritionally skewed one can.
The Ayurvedic mono-diet fast is simple. You eat one cup of kitchari for each meal for a duration of five days. This provides the body with just the basic amount of nourishment it requires to function properly, which lets the body wash itself internally. "To make kitchari, double rinse 1 cup each of basmati rice and yellow split mung dal (beans). Add the rice, dal, and a small handful of chopped cilantro leaves to 6 cups of water and bring to a boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then reduce the heat to low and cook partially covered for 25 to 30 minutes. Each kitchari garnished with freshly chopped cilantro and a teaspoon of ghee (clarified butter) three times and day for five days to cleanse your body and mind."
Source: Vasant Lad, Yoga+Joyful Living, May/June 2008
This should not come as a shock; spring is traditionally a time of cleaning around the house and yard. So as a simple reminder, here are a few ideas of key places to consider as part of your spring cleaning.
Kitchen - throw out old canned and packaged good (check those dates), damaged utensils / pots / pans / dishes / etc.
Family Room - what stuff has been collected here that should be in a different place or stored elsewhere?
Garage - does that lawn mower still work, empty or old lawn products, etc.
Basement - do you really need to store those old nic-nacs from aunt whatshername?
Closets - don't be surprised at the stuff you stashed away when your old college buddy came to visit
Attic - well some junk here might still be okay
Remember, some of that stuff can be donated to a good cause or someone in need.