Sweeping Changes: Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks
This delightful, offbeat book is at once a pragmatic primer on housekeeping and an aesthetic treatise on the mindfulness of Zen practice. Thorp, a lay monk and laid-back Californian who has studied Zen for 40 years, emphasizes the intent surrounding each housekeeping activity, not the end result of cleanliness. Lawns should be mindfully mowed "with every fiber of your being"; dishes should be washed with particular, single-minded care. "Your life and all that's in it are simply on loan to you and are clearly precarious," cautions Thorp, encouraging readers to use certain chores (raking dead leaves, recycling and mending clothes, for example) as occasions to reflect on the transience of life. He also notes that housekeeping can provide opportunities to feel gratitude for the interconnectedness of all things: the water flowing from the river through the treatment plant to the sink sustains life in the home; clean windows allow for greater openness to the outdoors. Thorp brilliantly uses the quotidian nature of oft-despised chores to teach important lessons about perpetual respectfulness and appreciation. This book can serve as an excellent introduction to an accessible, independent Zen practice, or simply as a gentle reminder of the innate spirituality buried in everyday acts.
Reviews of: Sweeping Changes: Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks
Who would have thought that a book dealing with the subject of housework (yes, mundane chores) could be both compelling and interesting? Not me, I admit. My mother in law gave me this book, and I can't help but wonder if she was trying to tell me something. Regardless, I'm glad I have it.
This book challenges everything you know about housework. We're always told to multitask, think about what you need to do next while doing chores. This book lays out the exact opposite: be in the moment, concentrating intently on the tast at hand, no matter how dull it may seem.
I did put some of these tips into practice for a couple days, but don't think I'll be going back to it. Honestly, if I have to scrub the floor, I'd rather imagine myself somewhere else, with my mind on anything except that scuff mark that won't budge.
I found this book on a closeout sale several years ago, when I had just begun to tip my toes into the pool of Buddhism. I was trying to change my life, just after New Year's, and this spoke to both my yearning for increased spirituality and a cleaner house. Double win!
It's a small book, and the author is spare with his words, but that doesn't dilute the impact of this book. I've turned back to it time and time again when I've felt my grasp on the mindfulness in every day living start to slip away. The author focuses on the little moments of our lives, and how important and even pleasurable they can become with a little meditation and mindfulness, as well as gratitude for the moment. Applying the principles espoused here not only makes day to day cleaning chores more approachable, but can bring you to a new level of peacefulness, not just in your home but in your own mind.
The suggestions of thoughts, affirmations and meditations in this book are interspersed with ideas of how to implement them into your day to day life, as well as practical suggestions for cleaning and organizing, as well as making your home a more beautiful place to live. By comparing and contrasting the chores that monks perform in a monastary, he is able to make you often grateful for the housework you do on your own, something I never would have thought possible!