Monday, July 1, 2013

A Clean Sweep

Tadley Broom
Tadley Broom (Photo credit: Flicktone)
This morning I grabbed my broom and swept my front porch, ridding it of slippery, wet leaves deposited by the daily rains we've been enjoying here in the Adirondack rain forest.

I like to sweep. For efficiency's sake I usually opt for the vacuum, but there's nothing like a good sweeping session to clear both dirt and my mind.

Brooms have a long history as instruments both of dust moving and energetic clearing. A twig or straw broom called a "besom" (pronounced "beezum") was used to sweep a space clean before a ritual. Often that sweeping was done without the bristles even touching the ground, to sweep away negative energy. Ancient handfasting rites (the precursor to weddings) might conclude with the bride and groom jumping over a broomstick, which represented hearth and home, to signify the start of their new life as a couple.

This morning's broom was not a besom; rather it was an ordinary broom meant for real dirt. That doesn't mean, however, that my sweeping experience was ordinary. There's something about the act of sweeping that centers me. The rhythmic "fwisk, fwisk" sound quiets my mind, like a repeating mantra or the ocean sound of ujjayi pranayama. By being present, even the act of sweeping the front porch becomes meditative.

Any household chore done mindfully can be grounding and meditative, but I think sweeping beats scrubbing the toilet for the opportunity to turn inward. Folding laundry is second, but the effect is ruined when I have to match socks.

I sadly retreated into the house this morning after I reached the bottom of the porch stairs. I do enjoy a good, clean sweep. As it's raining AGAIN, I'm sure I'll be out there again soon.
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