Waxing Philosophical on Cleaning the Soul
Waxing Philosophical on Cleaning the Soul
Some practitioners of Buddhism claim that a person's external environment is a mirror of their inner being and state of mind. This can be true, because a person's inner state can often motivate their external actions. For the overwhelmed person, clutter and disorganization can seem like the natural outgrowth of a busy mind pulled in all directions. The irony is that resulting clutter can lead to even more feelings of stress, just simply by being present. The obvious way to combat this stress is to clean and organize clutter but, to keep the clutter at bay and reduce stress levels further, meditation and mindfulness should be practiced during the cleaning.
Clutter has the habit of making people who live around it feel stressed. The confined space in which its located can make a person feel closed-in. The simply the thought of having to clean the clutter can add a task to an already busy schedule, and drain a person of energy. The process of untangling and reorganizing clutter is a freeing one, because it contributes to giving a person a sense of control -- as someone de-clutters an area, they begin to feel like the own the space again, and new possibilities open for the future. To make the task manageable and less daunting, cleaners should only take on one area a day, to guard against exhaustion and clutter fatigue. Cleaning for open spaces also helps people let go of attachments (another Buddhist principle), and aids them in releasing the past, no matter how important or insignificant the items.
Mindfulness and meditation can work wonders during cleaning. When a person is mindful, they are paying attention to each moment in their lives in a calm and non-judgmental way. This can significantly reduce everyday stresses, like those associated with cleaning. Instead of getting angry or frustrated because of having to clean a mess that someone thinks shouldn't be there, the person chooses to view the situation in a way that will give them insight and help them learn about the mess, such as why it's there, and how it can be avoided in the future. Paying attention to one's mind, body, feelings and mental content can do wonders for the inner state. Best of all, meditating is not relegated to a specific pose, or time of day -- it can be done anywhere at anytime, even while pushing a vacuum.
It's important to remember that "Spring Cleaning" isn't just supposed to be done during spring. Minds and moods are present all throughout the year, and they should be given the proper environment to thrive. Meditating while cleaning is a great way to sweep the mind of negative thoughts and inhospitable emotions. The following links give information on the connection between stress and clutter, and point to ways to reduce stress by cleaning:
Cleanliness is Next to Sanity?: An article summarizing psychologists' new emphasis on cleaning as a form of stress therapy.
Secrets of a Stress-Free Home: Reduce Stress Room by Room: Health magazine provides information on how to make a home more like a sanctuary than a stress factory. Tips are given for particular rooms in the house, including how to use space wisely and lighting advice.
Reduce Stress: Interior Paint Colors That Will Change Your Life: Shape magazine gives pointers on what colors to paint every room in your house, and what effects they will have on mindsets. Information on specific colors are given, making it easy for consumers to purchase them.
Spring Cleaning Can Relieve Stress: These are ways in which cleaning can reduce stress, and simultaneously lead to a clearer mind.
Spring Cleaning Meditation: A Rabbi talks about meditation and cleaning. It's useful for those of other religions who are interested in meditation.
Insight Meditation: Meditating at Home: A Buddhist website about the art of meditating at home. The website posits that no task is unimportant, including domestic chores.
Cleaning as Meditation: How to Transform Your Chores: A feature that waxes on the meditative meaning of chores. It contains examples of taking particular chores and relating them to Buddhist principles and meditation.
Five Steps to a Mindfulness Meditation Decluttering Practice: This website contains five tips to make decluttering a meditative experience, focusing on the concept of mindfulness.
Practicing Mindfulness for Busy People: These are tips giving the busy person with a full schedule ideas on how to practice mindfulness throughout the day. It includes advice on how to practice mindfulness while doing chores.
Practicing Mindfulness: A doctor explains the advantages of mindfulness to help reduce stress and anxiety.