Cleaning As Meditation
Clearing. Cleaning. Letting Go.
Meditation, and the benefits of a regular meditation practice ie. stillness, quiet, ease, is not something that can be ‘given’, nor purchased nor made to happen through willpower or brain power.
In fact, that deep well of stillness and peacefulness is already there within us .. even right now, in the heat of the moment, in a day filled with appointments and urgent client demands, with the constantly ringing phones and unfinished tasks .. the peacefulness is within just hidden under the layers of busy-ness, mind chatter, and habitual thought. Meditation is a practice that allows us to clear away the clutter and rest in that deep calmness and ease.
Like our work desks. The desk itself is always there, it is stable and solid and unchanging, although it often becomes an easy storage place for all our ‘stuff’ .. yet under the piles of papers, books and clutter, the desk is still and clear (like our mind).
The papers and mess on top could represent our mind clutter, the chatter that keeps us on the stress treadmill, the 60,000 thoughts a day that are 80% recycled and negative that we continue to run on ‘repeat’.
Meditation provides us with a tool to clear the desk. We sit and meditate to clear away the papers, to discard the ones that are no longer useful or necessary, to simply let go.
Meditation helps us to clear away, rearrange, reconsider, and see with greater clarity .. the solid and stable nature of the desk (the mind).
I spent a good part of this weekend cleaning. My cluttered and disorganised work desk was causing me a low level of stress because I couldn’t find things when I needed them, I couldn’t see the necessary from the unnecessary, and I felt my creativity and energy were being zapped by the visual mess and chaos.
Letting Go of Clutter : A Mindfulness Practice
When we sit in meditation we are mindful of our posture, our breath, our minds commentary, and the present moment. But we don’t meditate simply to be good at meditation, we meditate to prepare us for living mindfully and to improve our life. And because we can be mindful of nearly everything we do, walking, washing, eating or ironing, daily living can become part of our mindfulness practice.
1. Select a space that needs to be cleared or decluttered. Choose somewhere that is manageable to start with, like a desk rather than an entire house
2. Remove everything off the surface, placing the pile onto the floor or another table .. or even into a series of boxes
3. Now the best part .. cleaning the surface of your desk. Use a nice natural cleaning product and take your time .. wipe slowly and mindfully .. delight in the new cleanliness and spaciousness that you find .. appreciate the opportunity you are giving yourself to start afresh
4. Once you have a clear new space, start by taking one object from your pile of ‘stuff’ and consider what to do with it .. is there any reasons to hold onto this? is it important and part of your new clean life? or, is it time to let it go?
5. Put the object in the most suitable pile : rubbish, filing or donation – or if important find a place on your clean desk. (I also had a ‘maybe’ box, which is really just a delaying tactic .. so be brave!)
6. Move slowly and appreciatively through your pile, one object at a time. Each time your select an object do so mindfully, reflect quietly, make a decision and stick with it. Try to only deal with each object once, before moving mindfully on.
7. Regularly remove the rubbish pile to the outside bin, in this way you visually remove the clutter and return to a smaller task
8. Once finished .. take the time to appreciate the beautiful clear space that has opened up for you.