The current issue of Mother Earth News has an interesting article on wabi-sabi that is reenergizing my housekeeping efforts -- which could sorely use an overhaul, as they are anemic at best, not to mention often laced with resentment and self-coercion, a not very pleasant cocktail, I have to say. (I can't find the MEN article online but this is a link to another article by the same author on the topic.)
Wabi-sabi is a Japanese concept -- part asthetic, part spiritual philosophy -- that recognizes the transience of all things and values simplicity, imperfection, intimacy and natural materials.
The article includes a sidebar of a dozen ways to bring wabi-sabi energy into your life, from cultivating slowness by doing chores by hand to clearing clutter, creating quiet space and time for yourself and cultivating soul by choosing a hand-made item over a mass-produced one: "A piece made by hand holds the steady, solid vibrations of its maker rather than those of the jarring, impersonal machine. Surrounding yourself with things made by real people invites a tiny piece of each craftsman into your space."
The tip that I've been having the most fun playing with is to cultivate cleanliness: "An ancient tea master described wabi-sabi as 'putting one's whole heart to cleaning and repeating it several times.' Every time we sweep, dust or wash, we're creating clean, sacred space."
I really like this idea of cleaning to create sacred space and I set out today to do that. I had picked up some insulating drapes for our kitchen slider for last week's arctic blast and the coziness they brought into the kitchen made me want to do more to improve the feel of the room, which frankly needs a major remodel that overwhelms me with the cost and energy involved. But I realized I could make a difference with smaller steps, as the curtains so clearly showed.
I went on to clean more rooms with the intention of creating sacred space. I found that little mantra became a hook that let me pull out of the negative thinking that invariable cropped up ("they're so messy, they never throw anything out, I'm the only one who ever cleans around here" and other unpleasant storylines) and reset my intention to create positive energy in the house. I'm interested to see if the mindfulness with which I worked, incomplete though it was, will resonate in these physical spaces and remind me of the mental spaces I want to inhabit as well.