Photo: Mario Testino.
As the birds begin to sing and the sun starts to linger a little bit longer, our bodies start to feel a shift in energy; peeling off the sluggish skin of winter is an annual ritual celebrated by all walks of life. But just as our bodies return to vigor from the stupors of hibernation, so do our homes.
As improbable as it may sound, the environments around us also absorb the energy within them—and if the energy in question consists of 10-hour Netflix marathons coupled with heavy blankets and greasy pad thai, it’s not just our livers that start to feel sluggish come April.
Traditional Chinese medicine—a 2,300-year-old practice—draws its wisdom from the natural world. “Ancient Taoist doctors regarded the transition from winter to spring as an important time of renewal—not just in nature, but also in other aspects of our lives, including our bodies, our relationships, and our homes,” says Dr. Jill Blakeway, acupuncturist, herbalist, and director of The YinOva Center in New York, who is currently writing a book about energy medicine for HarperCollins, slated to be published in 2018.
As you would—or should—spring-clean your closet of items that aren’t on trend (or bringing you joy, if you go the KonMari route), you should treat your entire home with the same level of reverence. “I always ask my clients to, at the very least, energetically clean their home once a season,” says Goop resident shaman and founder of Style Rituals Colleen McCann.
Below, a few tips from energetic experts on how to get your space in shape for spring’s awakening.
Clear Away Clutter
The liver and gallbladder are the organs associated with wood—the element that represents spring in traditional Chinese medicine. Supporting these organs during a time of transition can help them to function better. “Many of us suffer from sludgy, sluggish livers after the long winter, and the spring is a great time to gently cleanse and detoxify them,” Blakeway says. Similarly, this is also the time to let things go in the home—there’s a reason why people talk about spring-cleaning!
“In nature, spring prompts trees and plants to sprout new buds—mimicking the natural flow of the universe; now is a good time to get rid of clutter and make room for new growth. On an emotional level, this means letting go of resentments and frustrations—and in our homes, this means getting rid of clutter,” Blakeway says. If you’re in need of a jump-start to help tackle the daunting list of spring-cleaning chores, the Now Or Never Motivation Mist from Paper Crane Apothecary, a favorite purveyor of the Los Angeles shaman set, can help establish the tone.
“Spring is an invigorating time of rebirth and new beginnings; to make the best of this powerfully charged time of year, we must also clear away the stagnant energy that has accumulated around us during the stillness of winter,” says Zoë Taylor-Crane, founder of Paper Crane Apothecary and intuitive Reiki and crystal healer. “We are all made up of energy, which essentially works like a magnet to attract different people and experiences into our lives. The frequency at which our homes vibrate determines the type of energy that we draw toward ourselves, as well as the energy emanating toward other people,” Taylor-Crane says.
Make Some Noise
If someone has had an argument and you walk into the room afterward, you can feel the tension in the atmosphere. That’s because negative energy can have a lingering effect. “At YinOva, if we want to change the energy of a room quickly, we usually make some noise. We use chimes and bells, sounding them over and over again until the room reverberates and feels full of the sound. You can use a Tibetan meditation bowl, a gong, chimes, a musical instrument, repeat a mantra, or simply play a song you like. Just make sure that the sound fills up the room and lasts long enough to clear out negative energy,” Blakeway suggests.
Similarly, what we speak about in our home lingers long after the conversations have ended. Simply making a conscious effort to shift the tone of topics from negative to positive can make a difference in the energy coming from both you and your home. “I truly believe that we are what we think and speak, so if we focus on the countless hardships that life is throwing our way, all we will get is more hardships. On the flip side, if we begin our days with a grateful heart, focusing on the blessings in our lives and the positive things we wish to bring into our orbit, the universe will have no choice but to reflect back to us the positive energy that we are emitting,” says Taylor-Crane.
Light It Up
Another way to fill up a room and change its energy for the better is to waft it with smoke (the good kind!). Using smoke from the embers of ancient medicinal herbs to “clear a space” is called smudging, and the most popular plants to smudge with are sage and palo santo, which are both said to neutralize and lighten negative energy.
Before you get out the matches, remember to open a door—or at the very least, a few windows. “The unwanted energy you are trying to clear must have a path to get out,” says McCann. She suggests opening all the cabinets, drawers, closets, and the oven and fridge—areas where dense energy can collect.
“Traditionally, people use an abalone shell to hold the sage—or palo santo—and then a feather to fan and spread the smoke around the space when burning it. Abalone shells are easy to hold when walking around a space, and they can withstand the heat created from the burning herbs.” Feathers are said to remove dense energy from the body and energetic field—but if you don’t have a shell, “a small ceramic or glass bowl will work just as well,” says McCann.
Medicinal smoke has been used for thousands of years, but recently there have been studies that prove it has a beneficial effect. A 2007 study found that burning medicinal herbs cleared airborne bacteria by 94 percent, and the space was still found to be disinfected a day later. What’s more, a month after applying the smoke, much of the pathogens originally found were still undetectable. “Personally, I find that after clearing a room with sage smoke, my mood is lifted, and it even helps me to be more intuitive,” Blakeway says.
If you’re afraid to light up—or your building happens to be smoke-free—there are also sage and palo santo sprays that you can use, much to the same effect. Taylor-Crane’s Clean Slate Smoke Free Smudge Mist is “perfect for shedding stagnant energies from the aura and home environment,” she says.
The Power of Scent
On the topic of essential oils, high-quality extractions are a wonderful, natural remedy for everything from “clean” home cleaning to calming down or waking up. Blakeway suggests diffusing essential oils to change the energy of a space. “Rose geranium, lemon, and mandarin are all particularly cleansing,” she says.
Prior to tackling a long put-off or unpleasant task (such as a tear of spring-cleaning), Taylor-Crane suggests using a mix of invigorating essential oils, including cardamom, lemon, and black pepper, which can “help to motivate and awaken the spirit.”
But be discerning while perusing the aisles of your local health store. “Manufactured scents don’t have the same effect as pure plant oils,” Blakeway warns, so look for cold-extracted, 100 percent pure plant oils to be sure you’re getting the real deal.
This story originally appeared on Vogue.
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