Cleaning as Meditation
We’ve all heard about meditation, of course, it’s such a sensation in recent years. There are mindfulness apps, 30 days yoga challenges, guided meditation for almost any possible situation, chakra cleaning and the list goes on and on and on. But when we talk about cleaning, meditation is definitely not the first thing that pops up into our heads. Still, this is definitely something interesting, so as long as we are professionals in house cleaning, we are here for those who are up to the hype and want to give meditation while doing housework a try. So let’s get straight to the point:
How To Meditate While You’re Doing Housework
Mindfulness is a term used to describe the process of focusing only on what you’re doing Now - in the very present moment itself. This is basically the essential principle of the meditation (well this and the conscious breathing as well). If you think that the meditation is limited to sitting upright in silence with legs crossed staring at the wall – you got it totally wrong. Welcome to the world of the moving meditation.
You’ve probably already been told that a person can practice meditation in pretty much any situation – we’re going to prove this statement so prepare your cleaning supplies and start by taking deep breaths.
In the next paragraphs, we’ll give you some pieces of advice which we’ve gathered straight from the source. We’re pretty sure that you might find this article quite useful so read on carefully and let us hear from you in the comment section below.
Maybe some Zen energy vibes will help you get in the right mood so remember that:
- Cleaning is the most basic practice in all forms of Japanese Buddhism – it says that the thing you must do in the pursuit of your spirituality is clean, clean, and clean. No cleaning, no life. That’s how powerful the practice of cleaning is.
- Japanese Buddhism doesn’t separate a soul from its environment. Therefore the cleaning expresses the respect for fulfilment and the sense of wholeness with the world that surrounds you.
- The cleaning practice is not a tool but a purpose by itself.
- Cleanliness is next to enlightenment.
- No action is more or less worthwhile in life – they are just what they are, no more, no less.
- Creativity means enjoying any work as meditation; doing any work with deep love.
- It is not a question of what you are doing, the question is how you are doing it.
- When you do something, you should burn yourself up completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.
- Work is a necessary part of your transformation, without it, the mind will gather rubbish and remain filthy for the whole time being. Work is valuable. It will bring you humbleness and silence. That’s why meditation should be part of the work, not separated from it.
- In Japanese characters, the word freedom is written as caused by oneself. Buddhism says the notion, that you have your own personality, is an illusion that your ego creates – and cleaning is a way to let go of this.
- The routine actions such as sweeping, wiping, polishing, washing and tiding, are all leading you one step forward on the path towards inner peace.
- Take the following statement right at the mouth of a monk:
We remove dust to sweep away our worldly cares. We live simply and take time to contemplate the self, mindfully living each moment. It's not just monks that need to live this way. Everyone in today's busy world needs it.
- And for dessert, we’ve kept one of the most famous Zen parables:
A monk told Joshu:
I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.
Have you eaten your rice porridge?
The monk replied:
I have eaten.
Then you had better washed your bowl.
A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind
Maybe you’ve wondered how we get to know so much at the topic, well we’ve used a bit help straight from the source.
A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind is a recently published book, which became an overnight sensation. Its author Shoukei Matsumoto is indeed a Japanese Buddhist monk, who has been serving at the Komyoji temple in Tokyo since 2003. Actually, the text was originally written as a training guide for young Japanese monks. Still The Guide is performing surpassingly well at Goodreads.
How to turn Mindless Chores into Mindful Restores
It's time to learn the simplest Housework Meditation Technique:
- Don’t rush into it. We all can be true speed racers when it comes to cleaning, especially if a last minute parental visit is involved. However, if you aim to experience the benefits of a cleaning meditation, try to carve out ample time, instead of racing through the chores as usual.
- Turn off your phone and get rid of any other distractions as well. Your Facebook account, the unread e-mail, even the text from your crush – all this must stay aside… for now. During the time you’ve allotted to cleaning, you should focus only on cleaning and nothing else, so forget all about he said, she said, keep calm and meditate.
- Focus only at the task you’re doing right now.
- Pay attention to every breath you take (just like
The Policehave said).
- Observe your thoughts and try to catch yourself every time when you start to think about something else – anything irrelevant to the task at hand should be thrown off your mind right now.
- It’s essential not to be harsh on yourself if you couldn’t manage with the previous step though. Just try to focus back on the task. It would probably take some time but as we all know - practice makes perfect.
- Keep your mind clear of every possible negative thought until the task is done (in the long run, you can try to keep this non-judgmental approach to life as long as possible).
- Enjoy the result, especially if you failed to do so during the whole process.
The benefits of
Housework Meditation include but are not limited to:
- You will do all the chores better (and potentially faster).
- You will be exercising your so-called focus muscle, i.e. your ability to concentrate.
- With the time you will manage to relax and clear your mind of all the bull… unpleasant thoughts.
- With any luck, you will hopefully notice an increased level of relaxation and inner peace.
- And maybe you’ll even learn how to clean your inner world along with the outer one.
All this while cleaning those (delightful, marvellous, exceptional - you've got the idea) one-of-a-kind pots and pans, which provides to you the wonder of eating with clean utensils.
Even cleaning the floor can be a great experience – Don’t you dare miss it. Don’t wipe it like some kind of a robot. Be aware of your actions. Don’t waste the unique, beautiful moments, shared with the mop, in only cleaning the floor – you never know what the universes’ actual plan is, so enjoy every second of it. And don’t forget to breathe and stay focus on the task at hand. If you’re aware, not only the floor but you will be cleaned as well (we mean this metaphorical, it’s always a good idea and strongly advisable to take a shower after a deep house cleaning).
Cleaning Meditation – Step by step
Since we always trust only the authorities, let us present you to Matt Valentine, who runs Buddhaimonia.com. He develops this step by step guide on how to meditate while cleaning because if we can be mindful while cleaning the bathroom, we can be mindful during any moment throughout our daily lives.
We clean the dust to remove our earthly desires. We clean the dirt to free ourselves from attachments, says Matsumoto and Matt Valentine has added the following steps:
- First thing’s first - Once you’ve selected your cleaning tool, take a moment to notice it with your various senses. Feel the soft texture of the sponge or hardness of the mops' grip. – realize the richness of its colours and the aroma of the detergent (you can even make one on your by using only natural ingredients).
- Stay focused on the task - As you begin to clean, remind yourself that you’re cleaning to clean. You’re not chasing a result. Give your full presence to the act of cleaning.
- Be aware not only of your environment but of yourself as well - Start by noticing the body. Notice as you raise your arms, move your hands, bend or step.
- Breathe! - Notice your breath as your chest rises up and down. – Feel how the air fills up your lungs and enjoy the wonder of simply breathing and enjoy every second of it.
- Stay focused! - Now place and maintain your focus on the repetitive motion of wiping with the sponge or mopping the floor. - The repetitive motions and sounds are all part of the process of meditation. Haven’t you noticed that in your yoga class, while listening to chants, repeating a mantra or even when you’ve said a prayer – it’s all the same –
May the circle be open but unbroken.
- Play along and master each and every motion - You can choose to match the cleaning motion of your hands with the rhythm of your breath. As you breathe in, wipe twice. As you breathe out, wipe three times. This helps further sync your attention with the physical activity of cleaning. – Which is the exact idea of the moving meditation?
- Pay special attention to the light.
Carefully clean the lamps and all sources of light in the same way you would polish your heart and soul to make them shine the brightest, says Matsumoto.
How to Wash, Sweep, and Fold with Presence
Washing Dishes as a meditation:
- First, realize the dishes and the forthcoming experience to transform them from dirty to brightly clean.
- Feel the temperature of the water on your hands and hold on to that feeling for a second.
- Now it’s the perfect time to adjust your breathing as well.
- Merge with the present moment and nothing beyond it. Realize its beauty. And remember that it will never repeat itself again so live it to the fullest.
- Focus only on the act of washing the dishes.
- Take pleasure from the smell and the sensation of the soap (choose one with natural aroma smell as lavender or mint). Appreciate the bubbles and the light, they’ve caught within themselves before disappearing in the air.
- Focus on and enjoy the repetitive movements and motions as you’re washing the dishes.
- You can also try to incorporate a mantra while you are onto the task.
- Be grateful for the sense of fulfilment you’ve gained from the simple act of washing the dishes.
And if this is not enough, you could try this Guided Dish Washing Meditation (yes a thing like this truly exists).
Sweeping as a meditation:
The repetitive nature of this act can easily offer relaxation. Simply bring your attention to just the sweeping itself. Then you should basically repeat the steps above. Realize the environment and yourself within it. Focus on breathing and all the sensations you may experience while doing this ordinary household chore. Notice each different space and spot you’re cleaning at this very moment. Enjoy the repetitive motions. You can as well try to incorporate this mantra:
I sweep the floor with attentiveness, and I sweep my mind. or whatever sounds right for you.
Doing Laundry as a meditation:
Observe everything you possibly can as you move through the motions of washing and folding your laundry. It’s all about noticing and realizing even the simplest things.
- Notice the texture of the fabrics while threading your fingers through your clothes and the different patterns and colours on each item of clothing.
- Observe how different your clothes are when still wet of the water. The weight, the colours, the touch…
- Notice the way the freshly washed laundry feels when you get it out of the dryer. Realize the heat coming from the clothes, their smell and their touch.
- Observe each detail while you’re folding them before putting them in the closet.
- Take a breath with gratitude after you’re done and be thankful that you have clean clothes to wear, and sheets to sleep on.
Actually, practising gratitude for the everyday things in life, that we often take for granted, can transform your mind and give you a whole new perspective and sense of joy.
Tidying up as a meditation:
Some practitioners of Buddhism claim that a person’s external environment is a mirror of their inner being and state of mind. It’s hard not to notice the logic in this. Plus the process of untangling and reorganizing is a freeing one, it gives the sense of owning the space at its fullest and reveals new opportunities. So get rid of the old and welcome the new. The fewer belongings you have, the better. Don’t attach to things, try to focus on the beauty of each moment instead. It’s the perfect time to quote Eddie Vedder on this:
You think you have to want More than you need
Until you have it all you won't be free
I think I need to find a bigger place
'Cause when you have more than you think
You need more space
With a sense of mindfulness we couldn’t possibly imagine to end this article without this exact quote by Bill Keane:
Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.
Would you try this bright and clean meditation technique? Let us know at the comments section below. Meanwhile, whatever you do, just try to be as happy as a monk with a broom.