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  • Martin Stepek

Spring Clean your Mind

It’s that time of year when many creatures start to look for new habitats, or are instinctively compelled to build new homes. We see the blackbirds flying with little twigs or bits of straw to literally feather their nest.


It’s spring time, out with the old and in with the new.


We can do this with our mind too, though we don’t have to wait until spring. Unfortunately it isn’t a matter of job done after a few days or weeks. Spring-cleaning the mind is more akin to mental housework or staying physically fit. If you don’t keep doing it, you lose it.


Even in a nice, neat home there are tasks that we put off doing for ages, sometimes even years. If we were perfect – and none of us are – we’d do a little cleaning every day, including those tasks we don’t get round to often. In a sense we’d be spring cleaning all of our life, and it wouldn’t be a chore nor take long to do. But our mind tells us that we don’t really want to that, do we? We’d rather put a lot of it off because we want to do other, more enjoyable things instead.


Most people never think that their minds might need as much as a spring clean and their home. Therefore if we discover the benefits of practices like mindfulness for the first time, we will have not spring cleaned our mind for decades. I discovered mindfulness by chance in 1998. I was 39. That’s four full decades of stuffing content into my mind without any real sense of care as to what the content was. My mind was therefore getting more and more cluttered, often with junk or worse.


But no point in moaning about that. That’s the reality of our mind, absolutely filled to the brim with everything from essential knowledge and skills, to trivial but fun facts, and, what we really care about, some deeply unhelpful and unpleasant mental habits, states of mind, and views. That’s what needs spring-cleaned.


We spring clean moment by moment, aware of our feelings and thoughts. If one pops up and we notice it is healthy and enjoyable, we make the most of it, savouring the pleasure it brings us. That’s like polishing your furniture.


If negative moods and reactions appear, we let them slip away by taking our attention to something much constructive and nurturing. That’s like throwing away the junk that’s accumulated in our home.


Moreover, just like with spring cleaning a home, the worst thing is to keep adding junk while you’re getting rid of what you already have. With the mind, we remain aware, so that if any new negative or unhelpful thoughts or feelings arise, we drop them so that they aren’t added to the junk in our mind.


So, spring clean your mind today. Don’t keep in your mind anything negative that appears there. Let it go. Stop new junk appearing moment by moment as the day progresses. Then, best of all, you can add all that is best in life into your mind, just as, when you’ve done all the hard work spring-cleaning your home, you might see a few spaces appear which you can fill with something of beauty.

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