It’s that time of year. Time to spring clean the house, weed the garden. Generally tidy up your environment ready for the beautiful summer that we are always promised in the UK 😉
It is indeed an amazing time of year with daffodils in full bloom and gardens beginning to wake out of their winter slumber. Bumblebees cruising around looking for a new home, butterflies fluttering and relieved to be free from their last incarnation. So, it is the same for us it seems, we come out of winter hibernation and begin to get excited about the long, balmy summer evenings, bbq’s and holidays. Personally, I think each change of season is fascinating in it’s own way and clearly is the balance of things – whether it is the end of summer, into the decaying of autumn or the cold and frosty mornings of the winter. They have a purpose and all seasons are rooted in nature, which is truly beautiful. So, this article is about nature, cleaning, mindfulness and these are all very much connected.
Back to the story – so we get the cleaning products out, the garden tools, weekend trips to the garden centre… what has this got to do with mindfulness I hear you whimper. Please read on, bear with me – my style is unpolished but I will get there eventually, it’s just time, it’s not real. It is all connected with mindfulness and some/a lot of us are already practising unconsciously but really we need to practice consciously to develop in this practice – otherwise you are probably just tidy but still ravaged by your mind! I mean, everything is connected without a doubt – if you are present and aware it is obvious but can we tighten these links with conscious effort? I would like to use an alternative word – when I say effort I mean ‘doing’, these things are not difficult tasks and I don’t think they require effort but they do need doing! But I don’t have time… well I have a couple of things to say about that – first is really? .. maybe you should be looking at what is important and prioritising, do you watch telly for 4 hours a night? Secondly, time is a made-up phenomena anyway so my first point is entirely irrelevant.
Does cleaning our environment help us keep our minds clear?
I will leave this up to you to decide from your own experience but I would suggest that it does from mine. I was recently reading Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chögyam Trungpa and was inspired to write this article. He suggests that having an organised environment provides a good foundation to grow your mindfulness and awareness. I agree, but I may put it slightly differently; own your shit – meaning look after your environment, make your bed in the morning, do the washing up straightaway, keep the house tidy. Organised and tidy – this doesn’t mean that you have to rush down to Ikea and start trying to build book shelves and fancy storage units; work with what you’ve got and make some time to get your world, your environment, your earth in order.
I am not preaching to you, I am just writing about my experience and sharing, good and bad you’ll get it all if you read my blogs! This is a new discovery for me personally (as is writing) and why I want to write about it because I have seen the difference it makes. I have always been a bit up and down with my cleaning, making the bed, tidying the garden; often finding these things to be a chore but since I read this book I have been paying more attention to my environment and I am finding it makes a huge difference. I lived with my partner for a while and she always looked after her surroundings and some of that rubbed off on me but reading this article made me realise that it has an affect in so many ways. Going up to bed now makes me smile! The room is tidy, everything in it’s place and the bed beautifully made. I never thought I would be writing this but the difference is amazing!
I don’t let the kitchen mess build up anymore and the fridge is regularly cleaned! Bins are out on time, bills are paid, letters get opened! I am on top of the washing and it feels good. I never thought I would say any of this!
Do it yourself!
The other point I would like to make here and I believe is very important is that YOU are doing these ‘things’, ‘tasks’. If you are paying a cleaner, you are missing the point. It is about you ‘doing’ and then you feel well inside for doing these things. It is about a complete experience, simplifying your life perhaps – if we pay someone else to do it this creates hierarchy. This is just one example and I will come back to this subject in other blogs – in the Western World we have created an environment where we try and hide the stuff we don’t want to see/to deal with but this is a fundamental flaw in our society. It is Yin Yang in Taoism, it is about rough with smooth, ugly with beautiful. It is about balance and this is mindfulness or you could call it awareness.
Aside from this, you feel tidy and this feeling of tidiness can only contribute to the mind feeling tidier. You will not solve all your thoughts and suddenly find peace and enlightenment but you will feel a sense of satisfaction and there is less to worry about – I would like to note here that there is nothing really to worry about anyway as worry is merely a reaction to thoughts and the thoughts are not you. If you look deep inside using meditation techniques which I would love to help with, you will begin to realise that there need be no worries and you are always okay.
Going back to the mess, even if you were happy in it, I doubt you really were it’s just that a story in your mind told you that it was okay. Pay no attention to the stories! I think that is a good note to finish on and I hope you embrace and enjoy the tidy up of your little piece of this earth, internally and externally!
It is hard to select a paragraph from this book and I thoroughly recommend reading it but I chose this:-
You may live in a dirt hut with no floor and only one window, but if you regard that space as sacred, if you care for it with your heart and mind, then it will be a palace
Shambhala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior by Chogyam Trungpa. Buy on Amazon.
I collect my knowledge from various teachings from all over the world and do not specifically follow any one but learn from them all.