I’ve been grouchy lately. Not all the time, certainly, but I’ve been having more than my fair share of snarky moments. I’ve been getting frustrated easily, have been highly impatient, and generally dissatisfied with … stuff. When I do that, I tend to take out my frustrations on my family for “forgetting where the dishwasher lives,” or “confusing the kitchen chairs with the closet,” or “forcing us all to live in a toybox!” Then I run around slamming cabinets, throwing shoes into closets with a little more force than necessary, and throwing endless things in the trash or recycling. You know, throwing a fit.
People tell me all the time that cleaning your house while your children are still growing is like shoveling your driveway while it’s still snowing outside. Yep, I see that, but guess what? We DO shovel while it’s still snowing. Know why? Because it’s a heck of a lot easier to shovel a little bit of snow twice than to shovel a hell of a lot of snow once. It’s also easier to clean up as you go along than it is to haul out 18 years of crap at the end of childhood. Ever seen Hoarders? ‘Nough said.
For me, the condition of my house is a representation of the condition of my mind. When I am calm and cool and collected and caring for myself, my house is usually well put together with beds made, floors mopped, showers scrubbed, and clutter gone. When I’m not caring for myself, when I’m scattered in thought and action, when I’m confused and unclear, my house is usually a pit. Floors are covered in dog hair and mud, dishes are undone, beds are not made, and the showers are … well, they look like the showers of 3 men. I can tell when my life is spinning out of control and is unmanageable when my house is out of control and unmanageable. It’s just the way I am.
Learning this about myself has been a great thing. Imagine my surprise when I learned that this is actually a Yogic concept! It makes perfect sense that the mind and the surroundings are related. When my house is a wreck, I know it’s time to clean not only my mudroom, but also my mind. Of what do I need to let go? Where can I straighten something out? What cobwebs of past thoughts and beliefs do I need to sweep away?
I spent about 4 hours scrubbing my house yesterday. It was time, not because the house was all that messy, but because I knew my mind was in need of a clearing out. I knew that I was taking out my own uncertainty and muddled thoughts on the person who left the popcorn bowl in the living room. It wasn’t about the bowl. It’s never about the bowl. As I scrubbed and dusted and straightened and mopped, not only the dirt in the house cleared, but so did the clutter in my mind. I found myself using Ujjayi breath and other Pranayama as I worked. While my body was doing the work, my brain was reaping the rewards.
The house is clean and I am settled today. I am content, happy, freed, and certain. I am clear. I am in order. I am Yoga.
And so is my house.