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6 Tips for Spiritual House Cleaning

What does a spiritual house cleaning truly mean?

spiritual house cleaningI was visiting a friend of mine last week. Opening the door, she was holding a mop, simultaneously announcing to me that she was doing spiritual house cleaning. When asking her what that entails, she informed me that she was “getting rid of the old.” As she said that, I assumed there might be some “new” to be added. She quickly dispossessed me of that idea, saying there really was nothing new to be added. She only wished to free herself of the old. In fact, as she spread her arms out wide at that announcement, I interpreted her stance as desiring to be free. Of what, I didn’t ask.

What is emptiness in a spiritual house cleaning?

Currently studying Buddhism, my mind immediately entertained the idea of the concept of “sunyata.” Sunyata is the perfection of wisdom and is also known as emptiness. I wondered if spiritual house cleaning could also therefore mean letting go of some of the contents of her house. I also think of spiritual house cleaning as not only letting go of items in one’s abode, but also freeing oneself of the contents of the mind.

A personal reflection on a dream

On a personal note, when I dream of houses, it often portends letting go of some karma or drama in my life and embarking upon a new adventure. Just as cutting hair or getting a new hairstyle can sometimes represent a new beginning for someone, I can see how a spiritual house cleaning would include all of this.

Tips to Spiritually House Clean

Allowing myself to play with the concept of spiritual house cleaning, this is what I came up with:

  1. Dusting. Dusting certain items in the house implies that one is willing to allow the item to remain in the house. There are certain bargains we make with ourselves when deciding whether to let go or keep something. When we first embark upon letting go of relationships or desires, because of the decision to be made, it is said that there is some juggling going on. This juggling keeps things up in the air long enough for choices to be made. Therefore, dusting is an intrinsic and important part of spiritual house cleaning.
  2. Cleaning out closets. I can’t imagine a spiritual house cleaning that does not include cleaning out a closet or two. In fact, some would have put that first on the list. When we clean out our closets, we are truly letting go of old identities which might include those size 8 pants you swore you would be able to get into again. Or likewise, you might want to get rid of those size 16 that are too big. Cleaning out closets are so important that I would say that it is a prerequisite for letting go in your life. It therefore deserves a new paragraph.
  3. Sweeping. Ah, sweeping. Attempt sweeping vigorously and involve the whole body in its movements. The vigor and strength with which one wields the broom is often consistent with the intent to free oneself of old concepts.
  4. Mopping. When one decides to let go, mopping is always the final and most important element in spiritual house cleaning. It is washing out any “lingering” elements. There is no turning back after mopping. In fact, a new mop might just be the thing since we don’t want to ignore parts of the floor. I would recommend in that instance one of the large cotton free flowing mops now available in the stores.
  5. Polishing. Isn’t there a feeling of sacredness as one polishes an item, and attends to it lovingly? I think so. As one polishes a particular item, one is saying, ” I care enough about you to want you to shine in your perfection.” And as you do spiritual house cleaning, note what items you polish and those you leave untended. That will reinforce what you wish to remain and that which you wish to let go of.
  6. Opening the Doors and Letting the Sun Shine Through. This is the final element of a spiritual house cleaning. It tells you that you have at last let go of any matters in your life long retained. Notice how free you feel, and with the doors open, how you are able to breathe even more fully and expansively. And as the sun shines through, remember it is shining upon your actions and saying, “Well done.”

Well done!

If you have a question about “Spiritual House Cleaning,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.

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Art of Meditation: Iconoclast View

Exploring the Art and Authenticity of Meditation

art of meditation

Meditation for Beginners

When people speak of the art of meditation, there is some kind of recognition that it is an art, rather than something naturally done. This usually implies it is a skill with rules attached to a specified item, typically acquired through practice. What makes it an art is perhaps the rarefied perspective one might give to it. This sometimes leads to a distortion of the real purpose of meditation which is to still the mind. This is where the iconoclast emerges.

The popularity of meditation

Meditation has started to become popular. As soon as something becomes popular, there is something perverse that happens in my consciousness. I usually feel that something is wrong if a myriad of people are suddenly following something they eschewed a time ago. And when people begin to follow something mindlessly, the iconoclast rears its head.

It’s interesting to me that as soon as something becomes popular, more bastardized approximations arise. For instance, a favorite tea of mine known perhaps to more vegetarian types gets taken over by a big corporation. Overnight the charm and perhaps quality disappears. Or in San Francisco, home to many cultures, we can see it becoming a focus to many computer zillionaires, buying up charm while forcing those who made it charming to move elsewhere.

Usually when people get on the same bandwagon, there is the danger that what was first evocative and compelling gets lost, diluted and even transformed.

Art of meditation arrives

Now it seems that meditation has become an art and everybody is clamoring to know how to do it. Another interesting thing is meditation is not in the skill; the skill is in the meditation. There are meditation camps, meditation retreats, rooms for meditation spaces, teachers of meditation elevated to impressive heights for their talent and so on. It’s become a big business.

As an interesting aside, as a tarot reader, I ask people to “shuffle”(mix-up) the cards before the reading. I try to put them at ease telling them they can easily shuffle it, do what I call the Last Vegas shuffle or do what as kids called the 78-card pickup. For those not in the know, it’s when you just throw the cards up in the air. Notwithstanding my desire to make them comfortable, I often hear them apologizing for “not doing it right.” I try to assure them that it always comes out right, no matter the skill. There is still a look of disappointment when they think they “don’t have it.” I have often thought of perhaps giving classes on “shuffling,” and making a dime of it.

Meditation a part of life

In truth, respective of all those classes and events,meditation is really a part of life. It’s something we do often without noting it. Primitive people did it just naturally as well as people in rural or agricultural areas. For them being quiet was a natural thing to do. It had not become something esoteric that only “meditative or spiritual people” can do. It is available at every moment unless someone places it in a box with prescribed rules of performance.

There are now whole schools devoted to the art of meditation. Of course, we all know the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi style where people pay thousands of dollars to receive a mantra which they then proceed to do 20 minutes a day. True, many benefit. For those who don’t think they can do five minutes which many teachers recommend, I can see how one might be willing to spend a goodly sum to achieve 20 minutes. At a reading, one of these meditators asked me what he could do to become more spiritual. He offered as his bona fides that he religiously did his 20 minutes twice a day. When I suggested that he extend the meditation he looked shocked.

Meditation suggestions

Stretching the art of meditation to include the simplest of efforts, I am now going to make the following suggestions:

  1. Read Beginners Guide to Meditation by Jack Cornfield. As a reputed teacher, he has also reduced meditation to its simplest form.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Breathe five or ten times.
  4. As thoughts come in, either let them go, tell them they can come back later or
  5. Focus on a mantra to your liking. Again, choosing a mantra is a very personal thing. There are lots of books to help you. Mantras are good for drowning out thoughts.
  6. As an alternative, focus on a tree or nature where many people claim to experience God.
  7. Set a clock and put in any time you wish. As it becomes habit, you will see you will desire to spend more time.
  8. Relax and enjoy even if your thoughts are driving you crazy. Who said you can’t hold two things in your mind at the same time?

Just as as the simplest of things become complex, so too you can reduce complexity to simplicity. In fact, the art of meditation is no art; meditation is just meditation. If you wish to remove your thoughts from your environment and bring peace to your life, it is one of the best practices to do so. Good luck.

If you have a question about the “Art of Meditation,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.


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Beautiful Woman: A New Standard

What constitutes a beautiful woman? The Spiritual Explorer’s view.

Truth is beauty and beauty is truth; that is all you know on earth and all ye need to know.” John Keats, a romantic poet of the 18th Century, said this. For Keats, and perhaps other poets of his age, beauty was more of an abstract concept. When writers of that age spoke of a beautiful woman, they rarely lingered on qualities that we are currently obsessed with in this age of full frontal and back nude pictures.

I’m sure that men at that time were also impressed with very physically beautiful women. Most of these beautiful women I would beg to say came from very wealthy families. They could afford to dress quite fashionably. They also had the time to acquit themselves admirably in the ladylike arts of playing the pianoforte, knitting, crocheting, croquet and other lady-like endeavors. These efforts barely raised a sweat on their comely brows. I am sure that other less fortunate, but perhaps equally beautiful women were forced to earn their keep by less desirable means. In those instances, we probably will see greater aging and weathering on their countenances.

Today’s measure of beautiful women

Today however I would say that we are truly obsessed by not only beauty of the face, but also of the various parts of the body,  sometimes even focusing on parts of the body that were never mentioned in more restricted societies and times. For instance, there are a number of attractive women who are glad to flaunt and remark consistently upon a particular portion of their anatomy.

Some will even enhance this particular body part so that more attention flows to it.“Have you seen her butt?” is an often heard first question before asked to direct one’s attention to perhaps this person’s talents in music, modeling, etc.

A new standard of beautiful woman

Whom do I consider a beautiful woman? My standards of beauty have changed over the years. Today, my favorites are Michelle, Angelina, Gloria and Oprah.

While I was young, I thought a beautiful woman was to have the perfect figure and face. That perfect face must be perfectly symmetrical. I find that not to be true having known a friend of mine who is a composite of Eurasian, Asian, Hawaiian and American features.

The face of a beautiful woman

If I were to look at her face objectively, I would think that it was not symmetrical at all. Each one of her features does not fit into what some would consider a standard. For instance, some would consider her eyes rather asymmetrical. Her nose with a bump on its bridge is never wished for if one were to gaze at noses objectively. Her mouth is certainly not a popular rosebud shape or overly plumped currently in fashion. However, looking at her full head on, you gasp at her beauty—and I mean physical beauty. So much for trying to have the so-called perfect features on your face.

What makes my other friend Lourdes most beautiful is her heart. If a heart could shine on someone’s face full of compassion and kindness, this is Lourdes. She is married with three children, all beautiful like her too and a handsome husband, I might add. She involves herself with so many charities with children that I lose count.

Beauty fades

Even though we all agree with the shibboleth that beauty fades, who amongst us would not still wish for that experience in our lives. We of course also hear that some beautiful women complain that their suitors find interest only in how they complement their own status. But let’s face it, girls, we will still choose that problem. How would you measure the pain of being beautiful verses someone who is born with a disfigurement? I am sure the scales would tip.

Of course, we all know the beautiful woman who at first appears beautiful, but then as soon as she opens her mouth and her shallowness appears, we no longer see her as beautiful.

Here’s my list of four beautiful women

Beautiful Woman - Michelle Obama Michelle Obama. Our FLOTUS shows true beauty in her elegance and willingness to surrender herself and her family to the stresses and dictates of the highest office in the land. Under difficult, extraordinary circumstances, she comports herself with grace, compassion, brilliance and wit.
Beautiful Woman - Angelina Jolie Angelina Jolie. While she is a physically beautiful woman, this isn’t the quality that women admire in her. She does not content herself to be just a famous actress and beautiful woman. She has adopted 7 children and still interacts articulately and brilliantly with the most challenging problems of these times.
Beautiful Woman - Gloria Steinem Gloria Steinem raised a whole female culture up from victimization and imprisonment in a male dominated culture. She challenges women to be as strong as they wished, not downplaying any of their qualities. She with other feminists brought women out of the Donna Reed life onto the world stage as authors, architects, teachers, mechanics, surgeons, etc and etc.
Beautiful Woman - Oprah Winfrey Oprah Winfrey is another beautiful woman who speaks and inspires both black and white women. Oprah dares to show her vulnerability and how vulnerable women can succeed and still make a mark upon the world. Through her generosity and gift giving she involves herself in countless ways that inspire, lift up and educate a generation.

These women in some fashion confirm Keats’ poetry in that the truth of their characters produce a remarkable beauty. And that is all you need to know!

If you have a question about a “beautiful woman,” or anything else, you can write me at Ask The Spiritual Explorer.

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