According to home guru Marie Kondo, organizing and tidying up sparks joy—and science backs her up on the life-improving benefits derived from housework. Now, one Buddhist monk is taking Kondo’s joy-sparking assertions up a notch by suggesting cleaning is a form of therapy that can support a peaceful life and also strengthen relationships.
Shoukei Matsumoto’s recently released book, A Monk’s Guide to a Clean House and Mind, quickly became a best-seller in Japan (it was originally intended for Japanese monks-in-training!), according to Quartz. In addition to explaining how cleaning benefits your well-being (making your home decor sparkle is akin to “polishing your heart and soul to make them shine their brightest”), Matsumoto writes that cleaning in groups is actually a productive bonding experience.
“We sweep dust to remove our worldly desires. We scrub dirt to free ourselves of attachments. We live simply and take time to contemplate the self, mindfully living each moment. It’s not just monks who need to live this way. Everyone in today’s busy world needs to do it.” —Shoukei Matsumoto
Twice a month, the monk has a group of volunteers come to the Komyoji Temple in Tokyo, where he is a member, to help clean; then they sit to drink tea and chat. He contends that sweeping, scrubbing, and polishing in a group is a spiritual practice that brings people closer and improves mental health. “We sweep dust to remove our worldly desires. We scrub dirt to free ourselves of attachments. We live simply and take time to contemplate the self, mindfully living each moment,” he writes. “It’s not just monks who need to live this way. Everyone in today’s busy world needs to do it.”
Matsumoto’s “think positively” interpretation of cleaning can apply to other areas of your life as well, since positive thinking can reduce stress and even brighten your outlook on the past. “If you can change your recognition of cleaning from something that’s negative to something that’s positive, then your quality of life will improve,” he told The Japan Times.
So, have your women’s circle over for a group cleaning sesh at your place, then do the same at their Zen den. Who knows? Spending some time bettering each other’s spaces could strengthen your friendship, too.
Here are five cleaning products the Well+Good team swears by for a home refresh. Or, if you’re too busy to clean, here’s how to tidy your space when you have a packed schedule.
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