I’ve been cleaning a lot lately.
Not really by choice, but I’ve been embracing it and zen-ing out on it a little more than I normally do. Cleaning is one of my least favorite things to do.
I always have so many more interesting things on my plate. But, alas, I moved out of a house I’d lived in for two years and, while I tried to hire someone to clean it, they didn’t finish. And so there I was with sponge and rags.
Also, I moved in with my best friend to save a little money for a month before I ventured out on a road trip. When I got to his house, it really needed cleaning. So, to help him out and say, “Thanks for letting me move in here for a bit,” I found myself cleaning again.
My point right now though, isn’t the cleaning itself; it’s what I discovered in the act: No matter how clean we think we are, there’s always some little nook or cranny, forgotten corner or high up edge that we have completely neglected.
I’m not a dirty person. Messy? Yes, I have stuff everywhere. But, dirty? I don’t think so. I do my dishes and keep a clean bathroom. The worst thing, I’ll admit, is that there’s some tufts of fur about occasionally – but I have two fluffy animals, so I give myself a little pass there. I might have papers and books all over my table, but the table itself is clean.
Still though, there were those little corners that made me say, “Wow, I didn’t clean this spot the whole two years I was here.”
All this got me to thinking, “What other things in our lives do we neglect without realizing it?”
There’s always something or someone. Occasionally, we’re reminded to tend to that part of our lives or to that person. I’m getting ready to leave Hawaii after having lived here for 12 years, and all of a sudden, friends I haven’t seen in several years are coming out of the woodwork and almost demanding to get to see me before I go. Did they neglect me, or did I neglect them? Or did we neglect each other?
In the end, it doesn’t matter. But, we get to a point sometimes when we realize our neglect and there’s a drive to make amends.
I teach yoga, and I love how the practice reflects life so clearly sometimes. As I’ve been contemplating the neglect of dusty corners and forgotten relationships, I’ve noticed neglect in my physical practice of yoga as well as my teaching.
I don’t get to other teachers’ classes as often as I would like – some neglect in my practice even there, right? – but recently I have found myself in front of three different amazing teachers. All three complimented my alignment in one way or another, but all three pointed out that I needed to draw my low ribs in more and fill out a bit through my mid-back.
When the third one pointed it out, I could not deny that I had been neglecting my “kidney loop” in my practice. As I thought about it, and watched my own students over the course of the last month or so, I could see that, in fact, I had been neglecting those alignment cues in my teaching as well.
So what did we do? I made amends, talked about the dusty corners of my house, and we gave a little love to drawing our low ribs in this week in my classes. One of my students was amazed at how it stabilized her handstand and I wondered how, sometimes, those hidden corners contain so much magic.
Reflecting on one’s self and growing can be tough. When we realize what we are neglecting, we might be hard on ourselves or feel bad – as I can tell in the case of some of my friends I haven’t seen in years asking to see me in the frantic weeks before I depart.
Neglecting certain aspects of our lives usually means that we were prioritizing other things, and knowing how to prioritize can be a good thing, certainly. The important pieces to remember when we realize something or someone has been neglected are to practice loving kindness with ourselves and know that we can always get out the dust rag and wipe out those corners once we notice them.