the Past, Present & Future
Cleaning is good for the soul
By RuthE Forest
Ahhhhh the oniony smell of new mown grass, cold mud underneath
my fingernails, the ache in my back and knees—it must be spring!
Time to perform a much-honored ritual that has been handed down for
generations known as Spring Cleaning.
I prepare the gardens for new plantings, ready
the barbeque grill for spectacular culinary feasts, pack away the
heavy winter clothing, and hold my breath in hopes that last years’
lightweight clothing still fits. I scrub floors, and wash everything
in sight including the windows.
I do all of these things so that I can appreciate
the bounty of life’s offerings during the growing season. I
do them to ensure good health, and happiness. I know that I won’t
want to do anything at all but veg-out in a shady spot and enjoy a
tall sip of something cool when the August heat is sweltering. For
a few weeks in April I am willing to put all of my energy into making
my environment the best it can become. I know that the outcome is
worth all of the effort.
While going about my time-honored ritual this spring
I have an epiphany. A light bulb in my brain switches on. I realize
that what really needs to be cleaned out isn’t what I spy with
my two eyes. What really needs some work is my internal file cabinet—the
moldy gray matter file between my ears. When was the last time I swabbed
I begin by paying attention to those things I tell
myself repeatedly. I believe that every cell in my body hears every
thought generated by my mind. This makes rational sense because every
cell is plugged into the same processing unit—my brain. So I
start to listen to the thoughts that get recycled throughout the day.
Repetition is a form of programming, and it is possible to interrupt
the cycle. Regularly scheduled negative programming can be positively
This is not easy, just like pulling Virginia greenbrier
it requires repeated attempts. Roots of certain thoughts can go as
deep as the nastiest of weeds. Just when you think you’ve eradicated
all of them they show up in another spot (thought).
Sometimes it’s not what you take out, but
what you put in that makes the difference. You may need a good soil
amendment to grow healthy plants. I reprogram my tangled thoughts
by asking a few simple questions. Who says? And so what? This is a
good place to start, and I soon realize that with a bit of effort
I can get really clean results.
For example, I found phrases in my thought vocabulary
such as: “I was never good at ___,” or “I can’t
possibly do ____”, or “I should’ve ___.” The
effect of these phrases is to make me feel bad about myself in some
manner. They accomplish this in two different ways—by attacking
my sense of freedom, or by sabotaging my attempts at creating joy.
When one of these thoughts come around I stop myself
in mid-thought and ask myself “WHO SAID?”
I see that often the person who originally convinced
me of the idea held a misconception that I agreed with at the time.
But now, often years later, I have more information, and the facts
are actually much different. I had not done the work of clearing out
the old misconception, so I continued to program myself with a negative
Old concepts can strangle self-esteem like old
vine weeds can pull down a strong pine tree. They do it with the same
energy zapping process—a little at a time, day after day, an
inch or two more. Soon you are sick and tired of fighting for yourself.
It’s easier to just lean over and rest, or worse—accept
Once I acknowledge that the thought is no longer
valid, for whatever reason, I then state “SO WHAT?” So
what would happen if I surrender that thought about myself? So what
if others feel that way about me? So what if I no longer allow myself
to believe this concept? So what if I do it differently this time?
Then I might be free and joyous! Then I might be able to try something
new! Then I might even have the courage to admit that I could be wrong.
It is like having a nice clean bed of dirt just waiting to be planted
with flowers of a different color.
After going through this positive self-talk process I am more patient
with myself. I appreciate others around me more. I cultivate an attitude
of gratitude for everything in my daily experience, and even for my
own indomitable nature.
After I clean out my internal file cabinet I begin to clean out my
body too. Effortlessly I accomplish drinking the recommended eight
glasses of water a day. I begin to take leisurely walks in the evening
and behold! My summer clothing fits! I roll those (pinched) pennies
and invest them in me. I schedule a great full body massage, and purchase
new organic cosmetics that put fewer toxins onto my skin. I begin
reading the labels on everything that comes into my house—but
that’s another story for another time.
Try this internal house cleaning. Even if it causes
some aches and pains now, you’ll be happier in the long run.
Be careful not to “should” on yourself, and be gentle
with your feelings during the process. Refrain from placing blame,
or digging up old hurts to justify your past actions. This is an opportunity
to be a creative observer of your experience. Notice what comes up
repeatedly for you. Ask yourself if this belief still holds true for
you, or is it just an old way of looking at life that is no longer
valuable to your current self. Have a hearty talk with yourself in
the mirror. Say things to you that you would tell your most cherished
I know that change can be difficult, especially
when we attempt to see ourselves from another viewpoint. I liken this
process to those old LP records—you may be able to jump easily
to the next song, but rarely will you be able to skip to the end of
the record. A bit of positive change can be very freeing though! I
am looking forward to what pops up when I clean out my gray matter
file again this autumn…
Contact RuthE Forrest NCMT by calling Spa 2 U (804) 453-5367 or