Preparing for meditation or for going into retreat. One of the five niyama or commitments from Master Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. The Hatha Yoga Pradipika, which is a retreat and practice manual, describes in one of its first few verses a proper retreat space and emphasizes the importance of it being kept spotlessly clean.
Ensure a dust and toxin free environment by cleaning your room, your house, your retreat cabin, your world. Cleaning your space keeps the air you breathe clean and provides the bonus of nice, light exercise. Keeping your body pure and clean, inside and out, results in smoother transference of pranic energies in the nadis or channels.
Clears your mind of cobwebs and stale ways of thinking. Cleaning can be a calming, meditative experience which doesn’t require any strenuous mental or physical exertion, but allows for single pointedness and contemplative reflection. Great creative ideas can come while cleaning.
Subtle Body Benefits
Your outer world is a perfect reflection of your inner world – like the sheaths of an onion. The outermost layer is your external environment and your physical body. Next layer down – your breath. The breath is integrally connected to the pranic energies. Then the thoughts which ride on those pranic energies. Then the karmas that drive the thoughts. The innermost layer is the emptiness which permits your karmas, either good or bad, to function as they do.
Transforms your world into a perfect, radiant Buddha Paradise if you use cleaning as a way to purify yourself and everything around you. One of our Teachers likened “large” cleaning tasks like vacuuming, sweeping, mopping to clearing apparently big obstacles to our practice, like insufficient motivation, time, or money to devote to spiritual pursuits. “Small” cleaning tasks like dusting remove the subtlest obstacles to our omniscience, the ones that are difficult to see. Like the tendency to see ourselves and our entire world as fixed and unchanging – as having some kind of self-inherency. Like thinking and insisting that escargots (or country music) are delectable and sublime OR revoltingly disgusting from their own side, rather than as a perception and label coming from our own mind.
You’ll find that if you do your meditations, asana and pranayama sweetly you’ll just spontaneously be inspired to keep yourself and your outer world spotlessly clean. That’s what we noticed.
Tips from Deep Retreat
We pick up and properly dispose of litter that we encounter when we are out walking. We dedicate this to seeing a totally clean and safe world, free of all toxins.
We use eco-friendly cleaning products.
We recycle everything humanly possible, including washing and re-using Ziploc plastic bags, plastic bags that veggies come in, plastic containers of every description, any paper that has blank space on it for writing (we’re in silent retreat!)
We have an extensive composting system and use and recycle our own organic and food waste.
We can’t do this while in retreat, but love the idea of volunteering to clean for elderly people or our Teacher.
We clean our minds by taking stock of how happy, relaxed and contented we feel – and make resolutions to do what it takes to “up” the happiness quotient. This is most easily and powerfully accomplished by looking after others. In retreat, we do this in the form of tong len meditations, or imagining that we are out in the world taking care of people.
Follow your cleaning practices with meditation.
Staying conscious of motivation is important! Cleaning neurotically serves no useful purpose other than to make you very annoyed the second someone drops a crumb on your freshly mopped floors.