Today’s sunshine carries with it the promise of spring. It reminds me of an article I read a few days ago about “The Rejuvenated You,” which highlights the endless ways we can re-energize mind, body, and soul – from vitamin-enriched water, to belly dance cardio, to aerobic oxygen. Then I spoke with my friend Bob, who is a Master Herbalist, and he summed up cleanses this way, “If you don’t remove the dirty oil from your cars engine, it will damage it and your car won’t run.” So colonics, coconut oil diets, and herbal flushes appeal to many of us as we try to shed those extra pounds that we can no longer hide under winter coats. With its warmth, budding flowers, and longer hours of sunlight, spring’s glorious rebirth is nudging us out of our houses and off to the health food store to pick up the latest cleanse.
But as beautiful as spring is, it passes in a few months and then fades. And those who didn’t stick with, or even start a spring cleanse, will vow to do one next year. It is important to remember also that spring isn’t a time of joy for everyone. Spring’s arrival can often cause sadness, and not because we’re too heavy for the latest body-revealing yoga wear. Mirabai, a female saint born in 1498, in her poem, Only the Beloved Can Open the Blossoming Spring, speaks of Spring in this way: “Green spring has arrived. But the Beloved has not, and my pain grows deeper.” In his poem, Prayer to the Beloved of Spring, Sant Darshan Singh, a contemporary mystic, says: “What does it matter if flowers have blossomed when our droopy hearts have not blossomed this spring?” He picks up the same theme in another poem, Love at Every Step: “I could neither find smiles in the flowers, nor Light in the stars, Until I met you, O Beloved, joy was nowhere to be found.”
Mirabai and Singh speak to God, in the form of their beloved gurus, about the emptiness of external beauty when the soul is not infused with the love and light of the Source. Sometimes great outer beauty can even cause us to feel our emptiness more acutely. Depression, which affects 121 million people worldwide according to the World Health Organization, is arguably the predominant disease of our age. I know many people who are in therapy or taking medication (or both) to alleviate their depression. However, depression is often a symptom of a malnourished soul. Just as sadness and other emotions can be considered beacons of the souls longing for God or Source, depression can be considered the cry of a soul in grief. We become unhappy when we focus exclusively on the outer world, even when it is as beautiful as a Vancouver Spring. In the end, placing our attention on the external will always leave us feeling empty. But when we focus on the soul, it is then that we experience true nourishment.
Is there such a thing as a spring soul cleanse that truly refreshes? Yes, and it’s much simpler than we may think. Cleansing the soul simply means giving our attention to what is occurring inside us. Perhaps we will discover a sense of emptiness or world-weariness arising from our busy lives and our lack of attention to our soul’s music. Or perhaps we will feel overwhelmed with ideas of how to manage our lives – ideas arising from our upbringing, the media, or our own seeking. But in order to cleanse our soul, we need to empty ourselves of all of these ideas, good and bad. A lifetime’s accumulation of concepts not only limits our experience, it clouds our ability to see clearly, honestly, and without judgment. When we empty ourselves of the noise of the mind, and devote a few moments to silence, to stillness, to simply being, we will find the soul eager to receive the healing potion of our attention. Just as fasting from food for a couple of days cleanses the body, fasting from the constant input of thoughts and ideas cleanses the soul.
Only then can we enter the doorway where we can finally feel the love that we have been seeking in the outer world. Through meditation, reflection, introspection or prayer, our soul will be able to slough off the layers of debris that have been weighing us down for so long. This is the extra weight that we really need to lose!
How would it feel to have a cleansed soul? Again, we turn to Mirabai’s poetry. In Polish into Gold, she uses these words to describe the ecstasy of reconnecting with the Source: “Mira has met the Energy That Lifts Mountains – that good luck now is her home.” When we are cleansed of the limiting beliefs that burden the soul, we can return to the Love that we already are. We can enjoy an eternal Spring, no matter what the season. A Spring that is more breathtakingly beautiful and refreshing than anything we can ever imagine.
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