Updated: Jul 4, 2019
Back in February, Dr. K. Ashutosh in India started our very first lecture with comparing a house with a person. He would explain that everything we find in a house, we find it in ourselves. Whatever we need outside (in the house) we need it inside (ourselves): The pillars of the house are the bones; the walls: the muscles; the furniture and the floor: our clothes; the windows and roof: our perception; the doors: the way we accept others; the electricity: our respiratory system and energy; Wi-Fi: our nervous system; the kitchen: our digestive system and the toilet: well, our excretory system!
Now as I go through my reading (and practising) list for my next teacher training in Zen Mindfulness and Meditation, I am working with this master piece: The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. One of the practices recommended is One Day of Mindfulness per week. During this day we must just do simple work as house cleaning, cooking, washing the clothes, and dusting. We need to do this three times slower than usual, just focusing on the task itself with all our senses. No friends around or meetings outside. Basically it is a retreat at home with 2 recommended walks of 45 minutes during the day, meditative walks of course. Finishing the day with a very slow bath. Very light dinner, may be only fruit and 1 hour sitting meditation before going to bed.
This practice is absolutely powerful. I don’t know about you, but I am always doing the house tasks really quickly, to get it done ASAP to start doing something else. Does this sound familiar? This is actually how we do most things, by thinking on the next one, no really living the present moment. I have understood so many things by practising this simple (although no easy) technique.
The moment waves of compassion and love started to arise in me I realized the technique was working. Not because I have never experience compassion and love before but because I had certainly never experienced it for a stain in my kitchen! :O
It is easy to talk about compassion but to practice real compassion is a different story. We get so easily frustrated in our practice when it seems that the stuff we are cleaning is suddenly back there again! We focus on cleaning and cleaning without feeling compassion for what we are cleaning. We and what we are cleaning are the same. We cannot exist without each other. The stain is the proof that you’ve been there, on a surface that has supported you and given a service when you needed it. Now it is your turn to serve it back by cleaning stuff that we don’t need anymore. But with compassion. With gratitude. With love.
Sometimes we wonder if the practice is not working but we just need to go back and clean harder! Some stains in us are more difficult to clean than others and the deeper we go, the harder we need to work on it. Some other times we encounter stains that we have inherited. These ones are the hardest to clean because they have been there for longer but that doesn’t mean we cannot clean them. We can. And again we can practice gratefulness toward those inherited stains that always came with something else, something that has been supporting us and giving us a service. They have been part of us so by practising compassion to those stains as we clean them we are practising compassion toward ourselves.
Often we recognize parts of us that need to be clean but because we believe it is going to take us a lot of effort and energy we postpone it. We just wait for the right moment when we are full of energy to go that way. And yet that day when we face it we realized it was actually easier to clean than we thought. And the reward is twice bigger than the effort.
Still some other times we just need to let the practice work its time and surrender and trust the technique. As when in order to clean the oven you spray the product and wait for an hour for the product to work! It is the same stuff. ‘Do your practice and go to work!’ As Sri K. Pattabhi Jois would say.
The walks by the river Clyde in Glasgow were magic. I was floating in my pink cloud again. Having blissful moments as I am observing the water by my side. I feel so grateful, so lucky, so blessed. Everything is in harmony. I fell high again. SO HIGH. I am so amazed that I am feeling this way as I am coming from literally cleaning my house! But the truth is that I feel clean inside, that is exactly how I feel, clean inside out.
The bath was magic too and I had a deeper sitting meditation before going to bed. This is good stuff, really worth it. I encourage you to try, to read the book and try this practice. Or at least, please, don’t get worried or upset if you cannot reach me one of these days while in Glasgow, I might probably be on a retreat cleaning my house! :) Namaste