Design for Life: Clean and Serene

Make cleaning house a spiritual cleansing act.

| November/December 2008


Carol Venolia

“If I can control the mess around me, I can find serenity within.” —Paula Jhung, Cleaning and the Meaning of Life

Aside from its  admittedly desirable results, housecleaning always felt like wasted time for me—a necessary evil, drudgery, chore.

So there I was one day, feeling scattered and behind on everything. I’d postponed housecleaning long enough that the dust bunnies were holding conventions in the hallway corners, and I had guests coming the next day. Grumbling, I hauled out the vacuum cleaner and planned to spend the next couple of hours doing one of my least- favorite activities.

I plugged in the vacuum, attached the long wand and began making those familiar long, sweeping motions across the floor. And then it happened. A deep and wonderful peace came over my whole being. Suddenly I was fully present, experiencing my actions as an act of uplifting myself and my home. Cleaning had shifted from mere grunt work to an act of caring for myself, my home and everyone who enters it.

The power of conscious cleaning

I reflected on something my friend Ann Marie Holmes, author of Earth Spirit Living: Bringing Heaven and Nature Into Your Home (Atria Books, 2007), once told me.

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