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Personal Musings

When You Sweep, Sweep

Sweeping as a form of mindfulness.

EACH MORNING after I rise from sleep, I sweep for fifteen minutes. I do this before any other activity. I take our broom from the downstairs closet and walk out to the back patio. The morning air is more cold than cool right now in early spring. And, sweeping the back patio in the cold morning air awakens me faster than any cup of coffee.

When it’s cold, let it be cold.

In A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind, Shoukei Matsumoto writes that “exposing your body to the cold in the predawn air naturally makes you feel charged, filling you with energy [and] cleaning quietly while the silence envelops you — before other people and plants awaken — refreshes and clears your mind.”

Before I place the broom down on the patio, I pay careful attention that there are no bugs I could injure or kill. If I do see a bug, I take a small twig and let the bug crawl up. Then, I place the twig in a safe place away from my broom and the area I will be sweeping. Yes, even spiders get a free ride to safety.

Five years ago, I wouldn’t have thought twice about whether I killed or injured a bug when I cleaned. I look at life differently now that I practice Zen Buddhism — a practice I have mostly kept secret for the past five years. All living things, big or small, have a place. We are interconnected. We are interdependent.

Sweeping has less to do with cleaning as a chore. For me, it is an activity best described as cultivating mindfulness. It is a form of meditation in a way.

If you enjoyed this, read the blog post Zen & the Art of Sweeping from Buddha Space. If you view cleaning as a chore, I recommend Shoukei Matsumoto’s book A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind. Should you purchase Matsumoto’s book, I may earn an affiliate commission which helps pay the operating costs of this blog.

Photo by Saskia Wustefeld on Unsplash

By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, TheBody.com, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.

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