I bought a steam mop last week. It was time. After having a Swiffer for years, using the poor thing, held together with duct tape and chopsticks because I didn’t want to add another piece of junk to a landfill, it finally broke beyond repair. So, the time had come to order a steam mop.

I was excited to get one: they are better for the environment because the pads are machine washable, and it only uses water, so no unnecessary chemicals. I browsed through the various models, finally settled on one of the top rated models, and a couple of mouse clicks later it was on the way.

I love clean, uncluttered spaces. I always have. And, I enjoy the process of cleaning: it can be really meditative. In this time, during the pandemic, I think a lot of people have connected with this process as well.

I usually mop the floors once a week, and I don’t wear shoes in the house, so the pads I had been using were usually relatively clean even after going through the whole house. What a surprise when I used the steam mop for the first time and saw how much dirt was there, but that I could not see.

The floors definitely looked different after the first use. They are sealed hardwood, but over the years, the grain had become more pronounced because of dirt getting in the small grooves. This patina can give wood a different kind of beauty; the kind of beauty you see in old faces, reflecting the passage of time, events, and experiences. Scars, dents, damages, and slight irregularities, all become part of the tapestries of both faces and floors with age.

Patinas can be wonderful, but there is a difference between a patina and outright dirt. And, at some point, the accumulation of stuff from the past casts a shadow over, and hides or obscures the true beauty of what was originally there. It reminds me of looking at an old painting where the details that the artist intended are hidden under years of dirt and grime.

The same is true of us. Events shape us, but sometimes we hold on to things we need to let go of. Sometimes we carry these past experiences; memories of things, good and bad, traumas, hurts, all kinds of things with us. They reveal themselves in the ways we react or respond, even though, to our conscious mind, we are, many times, unaware that they affect us .

I loved the way the floors looked after the first use of the new mop. I used it again at the end of the week on my normal day of deep house cleaning. Again, more dirt than I had ever imagined. The floors were definitely brighter, the grain had softened even more, and the house seemed to have more light and positivity. The mood actually felt different.

This brought to mind something I’ve been pondering. It’s not the first time I’ve experienced a mood lift after cleaning. I know it is a common experience, and we generally attribute it to the fact that the space is visually cleaner and more organized. It has been shown in studies to produce that effect.

What I’ve been thinking about, though, is whether it is just the visual aspect? I mean we fill spaces with our energy, and some of that remains, even when we leave. We affect our environment energetically. I know that there are places I’ve walked into, places that have a dark history, and you can feel it. There are also places where events have happened that have been intense enough to leave a sort of recording on the energetic field of a space. These are sometimes referred to as residual hauntings.

I’ve read that a portion of household dirt is dead skin cells from the people who live there. There are also other substances we leave behind as well; traces of oils from our skin, fragrance, and so on. We know that our bodies emit hormones based on our emotional state. These hormones cause our bodies to respond in different ways.

  • If these hormones and pheromones are part of the traces that we leave behind in our environment via the oils and dead skin cells, do they still affect us?

  • Is it like some sort of low-level radiation that we do not perceive consciously, but that our biological systems react to?

  • If we’ve been through a particularly stressful period, and we clean, do we feel better because we’ve essentially reduced the amount of those stress hormones that were released into our environment?

Some people choose not to clean or clear things either in their physical or emotional environments. I’ve noticed when I’ve encountered people in these environments, in many cases, they seem to be still living in the past, clinging to events, traumas, and energies that have long since gone, but not for them. It could be a relationship, the death of a loved one, any number of things

I wonder if the hormones present in the biological material that accumulates in the dust and dirt, trigger a similar emotional response that causes the release of more of the hormones that were initially released, creating a sort of chain reaction that just keeps the same energy in place till it is finally cleaned out. Maybe some scientists will do some research on this.

The passage of time effects our spaces and ourselves. As things change, as we move forward, as new things come into our lives, we can hopefully begin to see things that we have held on to; things that we really need to let go of, whether it be false beliefs, old patterns, whatever. In the same way the new mop revealed the dirt below the surface, so to, as we heal and grow, we release old traumas, old energies, and things that no longer serve us. Clearing these things can allow us to move forward in a new and positive light.

For me, I will be dancing around the house with my new steam mop, headphones on, jamming to some song, probably singing and causing my neighbors to wonder what that horrible sound is, and clearing the old energies to make room for the new. I wish you all the same.

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