By Nkechi Njaka. Photography By Deun Ivory.
Our abundance has a clear calling. It is to make space.
"WHEN WE CLEAR THE PHYSICAL CLUTTER FROM OUR LIVES, WE LITERALLY MAKE WAY FOR INSPIRATION AND 'GOOD, ORDERLY DIRECTION' TO ENTER." - Julia Cameron
The transition from winter to spring can be a challenging one. I know for me, the weeks leading up to the Spring Equinox (and after) were slow and difficult. Physically, I felt lethargic and resistant to my own blooming— my desires to stay indoors (even though we now have more daylight) were relentless and would often win against gorgeous weather. The winter was a long one (rich with processing, ideation, intention setting and shedding) and I was comfortable with the cold and what it protected.
The beautiful thing about the Spring Equinox in the Northern Hemisphere, is that we are moving from death (Winter) to new life (Spring). This is pretty significant both spiritually and astrologically, one of the main reasons being that we can tap into the wisdom of the energy of our planet and universe. We have so much to learn from observing nature.
"ONLY WHEN WE ARE BRAVE ENOUGH TO EXPLORE THE DARKNESS WILL WE DISCOVER THE INFINITE POWER OF OUR LIGHT." ―Brené Brown
The equinox happens twice every single year, and it happens when the hours of the light and dark are equal. The rich symbolism here is that we, too, are equal parts light and dark. We can use this time of year to bring deeper awareness to this duality of our existence and choose bravely to find deeper understanding of our own seasons. In finding this equanimity, we can begin to see that everything is in a state of constant change, and also that everything is connected, working together to create harmony. We can also begin investigating our personal lives to see what has been illuminated and what has been in the shadow hiding. When we investigate our lives in such a way, we begin to see things for how they really are. From there, we are able to choose towards those that are nourishing and supportive and leave behind that which is not. When we can see, we can shed. Both are necessary.
So many people use the time of Spring to clean and to clear their homes and spaces. This, too, is a process of seeing and shedding. Cleaning and clearing is not just a material process-- it can also be a really good opportunity to energetically rid yourself of all the things that you're not supported in.
Again, the symbolism here is that Spring is a time of life and nourishment— therefore we must weed out the things that are not helping us grow.
Growth is another word for abundance. And when we clear space of material things, --of relationships, of work, of tasks in our lives, we make room to be better versions of ourselves. We make space to have the things we want and desire. The beautiful and miraculous thing is that there is enough room for all the desires and wants to exist. We just have to create space.
“THE CHALLENGE IS TO FIND OUR DESTINY IN EXACTLY WHAT WE ARE REFUSING TO ENGAGE IN.” ― David Richo
But making space is counter-intuitive. This practice has been an incredible spiritual and wellness practice for myself. Around every turn of the season, I'll make it a priority to clear space in my home and make room for things in my life that I want, even when I don’t want to. The important part of this practice is to create intention around it. That way, it is clear what I'm clearing space for.
I have found that often, what is in the way, is the way.
What have I cleared space for?
Three years ago I worked with a decluttering specialist and she advised me to move my bed because I had casually shared that I was looking for love. We moved my bed from the corner of the room to the centre of the room.We made sure to put two side tables next to the bed on either side (one for me and one for a potential partner). From there, I went on to clean out my closet. I removed clothes that no longer belonged in my life (past relationships, old memories, things I stopped wearing). I left the hangers empty and enough room for another person. I also cleaned out dresser and kitchen drawers which created even more space for love. Two months later, I fell in love for the first time in three years.
Two years ago, I reached a point in my life and work where I didn’t leave the city I lived in (hello, burnout!). As an entrepreneur, I felt scarce in my resources and time so I never left. I longed for a vacation. It took a while for me to realize that by not taking a vacation, I was not nourishing myself. When I realized I needed a vacation, I thought about what I needed. At that time, I longed for somewhere warm, where I would eat well, practice yoga and feed my creativity. When you are clear with the Universe about what you desire, She provides (I spoke to this in a previous article I wrote about how I was resisting a Universal YES). Shortly after my realization, I met a woman hosting a retreat in Sayulita, Mexico. At the time I was reading The Artist Way and was in the practice of clearing my un-opened mail-- something I had been resisting for years. The retreat leader also told me to go through my mail (it has been collecting for three years and was stacked in my office). I committed to going through it and opened each piece of mail to find three important things to support my trip-- a check, cash, and accumulated miles from my favorite airline. I went through my mail five days before the retreat, and booked my flight two days before leaving.
When I moved to San Francisco five years ago, I had just ended a seven year relationship. I lived with that partner and we shared almost everything in our home. I walked away with nothing. I chose to live in a one bedroom and it has taken me years to feel worthy of rebuilding my home the way I desire.
About a year ago, I finally decided to go through unpacked boxes. These boxes were filled with items of a person only of my past and yet I couldn't let go of them. They were collected in my closet, taped and stacked-- full of memories of the person I was when I was in that relationship. My practice was to get rid of the things that were not of my present (or future) and to donate them.
It can be hard to donate things that are gifts from people who have passed on, who have left our lives, or items that hold sentimental value, but is also important to not have that energy remaining in your space. Once I had more room in my house (because I had gotten rid of so many boxes of things that I wasn't using), I was able to look at the things in my home that I really wanted to keep and where I wanted to create.
I looked at the bare walls and started imagining what I would fill them with. I gave myself permission to be fully aware, fully worthy, fully deserving of a home that was truly mine, FULL with the things that I wanted. I put paintings on the walls, bought plants, purchased furniture I wanted, and built an altar. This is still a process. I'm continuing to organize my space for the present me but also for the future me that is nesting.
“WE CAN ACTUALLY RECONSTRUCT OUR PAST BY EXAMINING WHAT WE THINK, SAY, FEEL, EXPECT, BELIEVE, AND DO IN AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP NOW.” ― David Richo
What can I share with you as a practice?
ONE SIMPLE TASK ::: The Closet Pull
If you are in the practice of Spring cleaning and want to cultivate more room and space in your life, I want to invite you into this practice that I do every season.
It's also a practice that I do with my clients.
-You may want to invite a partner, friend or a roommate to help you. Make room in your schedule for an afternoon to go through every single item of clothing that you own in your house. Every. Single. Item.
-With each item of clothing you will go through and ask yourself YES, NO, MAYBE in terms of keeping or releasing.
-The YES are for the pieces you LOVE, that create a huge grin on your face, that you pick out often to wear, that make you feel alive and like you. These most likely are pieces in your wardrobe that you have worn in the last week or month and if it's a seasonal item, it's something you look forward to wearing. You might even have multiple colors of these items. Putting it on gets you in a good mood. You LOVE the YES items without question.
-MAYBE are for those pieces that you are unsure about. Create a separate pile for those and task yourself with wearing them in the next month. If you don't, then it's a NO. Your friend and closet-pull buddy can help you if there are pieces you have confusion about.
-NO are the pieces that are never worn, hard to wear, make you feel uncomfortable or insecure for some reason. These are the pieces that take away energy instead of give energy. They are also pieces that have a lot of stories to them (eg. "That's my Mexico tunic", “I am saving that for a first date”, “I might work at an office job again”, “I think it's cool, but—,” “This is for a black tie event or wedding”, “This was a gift”, “This has sentimental value and I never wear it because... (it's too big, it's too short, it's itchy, not exciting enough, basically)." You get the point. If there is a reason you haven’t or don’t wear it, it’s a NO.
-The NOs get donated or you can take them to a store that buys gently used clothing. Doesn't matter WHAT you do but the NOs need to leave your space ASAP. No longer than a week should go by. Put them in a box or garbage bag right near your door so you are reminded of how much space they take up. Physically and energetically, they are taking up your valuable, precious space.
-Once you've completed this simple closet clearing ritual, you may notice immediately that you feel lighter and more spacious. You may also start to feel more creative. This is all pretty normal.
Material things hold energy and when they are removed from our space, we are able to tell the difference. Once we let go of the things that are not serving or nourishing us, we are able to make room and create for those that do.
ONE LAST THING! ::: A Quick Meditation
If you are finding yourself resisting this practice, try working with this simple meditation.
Set your timer for three minutes and do the following:
On the inhale, recite: I am making room for the things that give me life and joy.
On the exhale, recite: I am releasing the things that no longer serve or nourish.
Nkechi Njaka is the founder of NDN Integrated Lifestyle Studio where she curates lifestyle and wellness content for brands and individuals. She is also the co-founder of Sitting Matters, a mindful lifestyle brand. She is a woman of color, deeply concerned about personal and global well-being. Nkechi holistically approaches her wellness with mindfulness, movement, nutrition and style. When not involved in NDN projects, you can find Nkechi teaching Mindful Movement or Mindful Style classes + workshops, taking a yoga or modern dance class or choreographing independent work. She creates, curates, coaches and collaborates in San Francisco, California.