Cleaning As Meditation

Cleaning and housework aren’t exactly at the top of my fun priority list. Yet I’ve noticed that cleaning has some surprising and completely unexpected consequences.

I started the year with the goal of cleaning (and sorting out the crap that just piles up over time) each and every single room of the house. I’ve started at the main bedroom end of the house. So far I’ve just done the ensuite, our bedroom and my office. Those three rooms alone have taken up a fair chunk of time, with me dedicating a bit of time each day to progress things further. From ceiling to floor, the rooms are sparkling clean and so organised, even Martha Stewart would be proud.

The reason I decided to give the house a total spring clean was based mainly on the fact that we’ve been living here for almost 2 years now. Some things are still not sorted out from when we moved in. Life has simply gotten in the way, and sorting out a sock drawer isn’t a ‘must do’ in the face of running a business, renovating, landscaping and just well, having a life.

READ – Is Happiness Worth It?


I seized on the opportunity the new year presents, and thought ‘Now’s the time to do it’. So here I am. I have only just barely scratched the surface of what needs to be done. Everything in the ‘too hard to sort out’ pile is being thrown in the shed – the double carport shed that is already overflowing, so much so that the cars don’t actually fit in it. But hey, that’s for another time.

Despite only just starting, I am already noticing a strange by-product of the cleaning and sorting out that I am doing. It can only be described as a state of peacefulness and calmness really. In many ways, its similar to the feeling I have after doing a yoga class, or working out. I feel lifted, lighter and re-energised. Maybe there’s something about cleaning and organising ‘stuff’ that has a meditative effect.

By cleaning, sorting, removing and re-organising physical objects, maybe I’m also doing the same metaphorically speaking, in my mind. Maybe there’s a prevailing sense of order and control that I am tapping into by ordering and controlling the small elements in my life that I can. All work socks go together, all sports socks in the next drawer, that sort of thing.

It could also be the release of letting go of so many unwanted and unused things. I’ve been amazed at how many things I’ve thrown out from the bathroom alone! How can two people accumulate so much crap? It really does become a question of do we own our possessions, or do they own us? I remember when I was 20 and travelling through Europe. All my worldly possessions could fit into one bag and had to weigh under 23kgs (in order to be able to fly around). That feels like the equivalent of the stuff I’ve just thrown out.

I’m not comparing myself today (at 34, owning a house with my partner, and living a well-established, comfortable life) to myself at 20, without a care in the world (except for how to fit things not my suitcase before I leave), but it goes to show how your life changes. And to think, I was dreading this process for fear it would be sweaty (which it is), dirty (which is also is) and boring (clearly is not!) work.

It’s amazing how by doing something so mundane as cleaning, I’m having such a wonderful, insightful experience!