Thursday, November 15, 2012

The clutter in my home is like the clutter in my head.




On the way out the door to school this morning, my son tripped over a large garbage bag, falling at the back door.  The garbage bag, half full of items for donation, has floated around the back entry for a few weeks.  I feel like no matter how many bags, boxes, truck-loads of donations we make, there's still clutter.  Where does it all come from?  It's like a never-ending stream of junk.  

I am grateful for the abundance, fortunate that my family doesn't want for anything.  Except I want for something; order in my home, free from clutter!  On house-cleaning day, everything gets put away and the house looks and feels clean, with room to breathe, move and easily find what I need.  I feel relaxed, calm and more productive in a clean house.  In between cleaning days, the clutter slowly creeps back in.

Sometimes I practice ignoring it, letting go, letting flow (insert sing-song voice).  It's all good, I tell myself, no big deal.  It's just my perception, I say, change it.  That works for awhile, until a challenging day comes along and suddenly the clutter has me outraged, agitating my pitta mind.  Toys on the floor, donation bags at the back door, books on the island, crafts on the kitchen table, all trigger frustration.

The simplest and most reasonable way to address the clutter is to deal with it daily, before it creeps through the entire house, piling up in the corners.  This thought appeals to me less than ignoring it.  This avenue requires discipline, a daily practice of housework, which holds little appeal and I can think of twenty other things I prefer to do, like more yoga, writing, reflecting in a cup of tea, editing my blog, musing about life...

As I address the clutter in my head, the constant stream of thoughts and mind chatter, with a disciplined, daily meditation or yoga practice, the clutter in my home, my life, must also be addressed; daily.  My bohemian self may balk at the chores but that same self is happy to chant mantras daily at the moon, so I believe she'll survive.

"Joyful exertion." the Dalai Lama talks about.  That everything becomes easier through preparation and improvement.  So, I treat my day as a mom, wife, home-maker, writer, business owner and being much as I did my workouts when I trained.  I organize my calendar and set up my routines, allowing, of course, for the all-important cheat day where I break all the rules for one day, allow the rebel full reign, jumping back on the wagon the next.  Most importantly, I commit to joyful exertion.

A retreat is rejuvenating, a day off is delightful, a workshop is wonderful but if there is no daily practice to support the work, just like after the cleaning day, clutter slowly creeps back in.  On a good day, it won't matter, failing to bother me, but on a challenging day, the clutter morphs into a monster.

The writing already done, meditation complete, breakfast and school drop off accomplished, I turn up the music, attack the laundry with vigor and the toys with tenacity.  The bag at the back door donated, clutter disappears from both my mind and my home. Who knew folding towels could be so restorative?
Time for tea.

Stephanie

3 comments:

  1. "if there is no daily practice to support the work, just like after the cleaning day, clutter slowly creeps back in". I find it so interesting that we are the same, but on opposite sides! ;) I find much peace and contentment in cleaning and tidying, organizing and decluttering, but my mind is in desperate need of a clean. Food for thought!

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  2. I love your food for thought Lisa. Let's chew on it awhile...
    The question is; how do we bring the feelings of peace and contentment awarded us by certain practices, into other areas of life?

    Let's consider the Dali Lama's teaching of joyful exertion; "There is nothing that does not become easier through cultivation... through gradually developing more and more courage and determination..."

    Housework doesn't always frustrate me, however, daily housework does. Truthfully, daily anything does after awhile. I return again and again to tackle the clutter, knowing that after sufficient cultivation and daily practice, I will eventually attain laundry enlightenment and the struggle against daily duties will cease to exist.

    In what way can you work towards cultivation of a calm mind outside of housework? What practices can you incorporate daily and have the courage and determination to stick with? The list of tools is endless... mantra, affirmation, mudra, meditation, wearing your shoes on the wrong feet, your clothes inside out, walking backwards...

    The thing about housework is it always exists, the same duties need to get done. It may be a lifelong practice for me, but it is always the same practice, as is calming the mind.

    If you find you are jumping from one tool to the next with no noticeable gains, consider picking just one tool, the one that resonates with you the most, and stay with it, deepen it, commit to it and master it, as if there is no other way and it is already done.

    At the end of the day, Nike got it right; it doesn't matter so much what you do but that you "Just do it." Until you attain what you're looking for.

    In fact, as the Dalai Lama encourages "Joyful exertion" and Nike says "Just do it", Yogi Bhajan says "Keep up and you will be kept up", it seems to me disciplined and diligent practice may hold the key to attainment of anything, everything and no-thing.

    I'm cheering you on Lisa! I am with you.

    May your day be filled with feeling of endless housework :)
    Stephanie

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  3. Thank you for your insights! I feel much more comfortable commenting here than on Facebook.

    Too much searching, not enough doing. ;) Simple always fits me best, even if I try to make it complicated.

    Looking forward to seeing you Monday!

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