Far too often we look for complicated answers when simple ones will suffice. Since the beginning of the new year we’ve discussed devotion to a practice, exercise, eating habits and affirmations and how they help create the causes and conditions for a peaceful mind. Today we will look at how the state and energy of our home affects our state of mind.
I like to remind students of The Peaceful Minds Center that you are your own guru. I am not the guru and I am not to be followed. It is your own innate wisdom that we unlock in Satsang and you are to follow it. It is important that you are able to observe yourself from distance. Much of what you will come to understand about yourself is subjective and anecdotal. Put more simply, you will notice what brings you personally to a peaceful and joyful state in a real and lasting way. When you make that connection you will be highly motivated to do these things because all we really desire is a peaceful mind. The details will vary from person to person, but there will be many common threads that run through all of us. Trust yourself but when you are struggling to see clearly ask for help.
Notice (observe) how you feel when your home is clean and in order. Notice how you feel when your home is not. For most of us, when our home is clean and in order a deep sense of relaxation comes over us. More importantly, somehow our minds are calm and less jumpy. We find it easier to concentrate. There is something about stepping into a room that’s clean, orderly and without clutter that relaxes the mind.
Students who have known me for an extended period of time know that the first thing I do when my mind starts acting up is clean my home from top to bottom. There is something cathartic about it. Sometimes my mind becomes very active and I can’t seem to slow it down or concentrate. Perhaps I’m overly busy and feeling a little overwhelmed by life. Usually, in those moments I look around and my home is a reflection of my state of mind. There is clutter and things are undone. There may be laundry laying around and dishes in the sink. I have found that by cleaning up the space around me, I’m also cleaning up my mind.
There is a method I use that seems to get me started and keep me moving. I start with what’s easy. Whatever is garbage gets thrown out. I go through the house and throw out everything that belongs in the trash. Then, I take the trash to the dumpster. Next, I want to get my machines working. So, I put the laundry in the washer and any dirty dishes in the dishwasher and start them up. The sound of those machines is somehow motivating to me. I’ll then dust the house, wipe down the kitchen and bathroom, clean the floors and viola! The house is beautiful and I’m already feeling better! To maintain this I go back to my Zen List and clean up one room each each day. My home stays neat, clean and beautiful and my mind is much more peaceful.
I encourage you to keep your home simple and not have a lot of clutter. Objects and nicknacks make it much more difficult to clean and take care of. They also distract your mind. The more simple your home the more peaceful your mind.
Remember, your home is your sacred space. It is where you go to recharge your batteries and rest. It is of paramount importance that your “fortress of solitude” be a place that honors you … Where you feel safe, loved an comfortable … If it is not, your mind never gets a chance to relax. Although you might not be aware of it, your mind is constantly registering the environment around you. If that environment is one that is dirty, full of clutter and disorganized, your mind is constantly wanting to fix it or constantly wanting to remember it needs to be done. That’s when we drown our minds in TV or more damaging things. We do this to avoid the work of maintaining our sacred space. Laziness, is a favorite trap of the ego. It says, “You can do it later … It doesn’t matter … Don’t worry about it…” Do it now. It does matter. And when its done there will be nothing to worry about!
Sometimes our most profound teachings don’t at first to appear profound. Your sacred space is root cause of peacefulness and joyfulness. You must see this clearly. If you wish to have a peaceful, joyful mind there are causes and conditions that create this. Sacred space is one of the root causes. Try it yourself and see! When you experience it for yourself, you will realize the profound nature of this teaching.
Thomas Notarianni Jr.