Sep 15, 2007

Cleaning is Purity

I am good at cleaning. I didn’t used to be. Before I studied chado, I was a slob. My room was a mess, my desk at work was a mess, in fact my life was a mess. One of the first things I learned in tea was how to clean.

So I cleaned. I was often the first to keiko and it was my job to clean the tatami before class. I cleaned the tea room, then I cleaned the preparation room (mizuya). Then I stayed after class and cleaned the tea room, put utensils away and cleaned the mizuya. When I studied in Japan, one of my jobs was to clean the 100 tatami mat room. That means being on hands and knees and wiping each mat (3 ft by 6 ft) by hand, all 100 of them, every night after class.

While I was living in Japan, I stayed in a small Japanese room that was my living room, bedroom, study and dressing room. My actual living space became smaller and smaller as I acquired things. Keeping my space clean was necessary to be able to breathe in my small room.

As my sensei said to me, chado is 80% cleaning. One of the principles of tea is purity. There is nothing more calming than cleaning. When you are cleaning, you can see what you have done and what you need to do. Cleaning is good therapy. It also is good for clearing your mind and soothing your emotions. And when you are finished, having a tidy space feels good.

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