Clear Clutter, Clear Mind: Samurai Cleaning is Samurai Learning

Clear Clutter Clear Mind.

Cleaning and clearing clutter helps me see to the distance. Part of the attraction of temples and gardens in Japan is they are clutter free zones for the mind, and spirit.

I recently watched an episode on NHK (the Japanese PBS) about a celebrity who spends a weekend at a Zen monastery.   Before she gets to the “business” of meditating, she has to clean the bathrooms, cleaning the beautiful wooden floors with a cloth.   I guess it’s part of the Zen attitude that every activity is a chance to wake up.  It also saves tons of money on cleaning bills. 🙂  Clear clutter, clear mind.  Samurai cleaning is samurai learning.  (I love it when I can talk like Yoda.)

The school year is coming to a close, and during non-administrative duties I’ve been cleaning and organizing my classroom.  I have over twenty years of material in addition to materials left over from previous generations that have used my room.  I’ve been able to methodically work on every corner, throwing out materials I don’t need any more and organizing the materials I still want to hang on.

That is the essence of a samurai review—toss out the material you no longer want and organize, touch, reshuffle the material you want.   The added plus is that it doesn’t just involve your mind; it involves your body in action.

Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, suggests clearing clutter as one way to breakthrough creative blocks:

Few things are as distracting– and destructive– as clutter in your home environment. It is hard to have clarity when you are living amid rubble. Clearing up your space gives you room for new thoughts. Clutter can be tackled in small amounts. Try fifteen-minute cleanups. You will be amazed at the difference in your psyche. Where before you felt frustrated, you will now find yourself feeling optimism.

From Miyajima Island temple. Clear mind, happy mind?

Cameron gets the Samurai Mind award for not only suggesting a technique but also using time limits as a tool!  Clear clutter, clear mind.  (Clearing Yoda throat)  Clear clutter, clear mind.  Samurai cleaning, samurai learning is.

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