10 Things I Learned From A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind
A few months ago I was sent a copy of the book by Shin-Buddhist Monk, Shoukei Matsumoto ‘A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind’. The book shares zen wisdom by using the daily actions of cleaning and organising as an allegory.
The book is filled with nuggets of thought-provoking wisdom about mindfulness and living a cleaner, calmer, happier life as well as sharing some pretty useful cleaning tips.
It’s a fab little book that I keep by my bed so I can dip into for some zen inspiration when I need it at nighttime.
To give you an idea of how useful and inspiring this book can be here are:
10 things I learned from ‘A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind’
1. What we surround ourselves with, whether people or things, makes us who we are.
‘Things exist because all things relate with each other to support each other’s existence.’ and so follows that ‘Humans are the same. The people and things in your life are what makes you who you are.’
2. Your existence is not an individual endeavour as everything and everyone connected. Therefore, you have a responsibility to think of others and your environment.
‘Carelessness on the part of one individual becomes the responsibility of the group as a whole. Sometimes the entire team is made to sit cross-legged on a hard wooden floor for long hours. You don’t want to cause problems for others, so you really must ensure that you are doing things properly. This is an opportunity to learn that your existence is not just about yourself.’
3. Cleaning is the act of mindfulness because it roots you in the present moment.
‘Cleaning is training for staying in the now. Therein lies the reason for being particular about cleanliness.’
4. Mark the changing of the seasons with a change of clothes. Refresh your clothes, refresh your heart.
‘If you don’t reflect the seasons in this way, you miss out on an opportunity to refresh your heart, and put yourself at risk of having a lacklustre year.’ and ‘It is important to express gratitude at the changing of the seasons. Only those who do this truly know how to achieve closure in their feelings.’
5. Useful way to plan cleaning and organising.
Have designated days for non-daily tasks. 3 and 8 days for cleaning lights. 4 and 9 days for repairing things
6. Nowadays people quick to replace things rather than mend them. But if you live this way your relationships with others will be going to resemble how you relate to others.
“If you use an object for as long as you can carefully, repairing it when necessary, you will find that not only your relationship with objects begins to change, but so will the way you relate to people.” Something the Japanese like to do is to repair cracks in pots with gold or silver. The imperfections are highlighted as beautiful.
7. We can choose what we see in the world, and pick out beauty even when it might be hard to see for others.
‘What a person sees in a garden is a reflection of what is in their heart.’
8. Less possessions allow more space for your mind to think.
‘By not being anchored down by worldly possessions, his mind was able to achieve true freedom.’
9. The result of less possessions is simplicity, and with that you begin to appreciate the work behind everything you own, you learn to treasure every one of your possessions
‘You end up only keeping things of good quality. You appreciate they are the result of many people’s diligent in work. You can continue to use them for years and years. They are treasured.
10. The result of letting go is that you are able to see more of the world around you. It allows space for mindfulness, gratitude, and love.
‘There is a zen saying “where there is nothing, there is everything”.
‘By letting go of everything, you can open up a universe of unlimited possibilities.’