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Enlightened Vacuuming: The Bliss of Being a Householder Yogi

a man hugging his vacuum cleaner

I stand firmly in the possibility for the highest enlightenment and highest, most ecstatic joy that’s available to ALL of us as householder yogis! The renunciates [those who choose to reject the world in favor of transcending samsara (the disease of worldliness)] have nothing on us! You Go, Householders! You Go!

For the last 28 years, I’ve been using the same old rickety vacuum cleaner that I got from Kripalu in 1996 when I moved out of the ashram. It’s a commercial grade machine which has lasted this long. However, it only works at about 40% capacity, makes a lot of noise, and when you turn it off, it whines, winces, sputters, then coughs a few times!

Seriously, this vacuum is old! Probably a centenarian in vacuum years! LOL. I’ve been so stubborn not to get a new vacuum cleaner because I take great pride in getting the most use out of all of my appliances before I release them to the recycling junk yard.

But at what cost to my heart?

The cost of joy to my heart couldn’t have been more obvious last weekend when I finally broke down and purchased a new vacuum cleaner. She’s a lightweight, beautifully designed machine, efficient, dedicated work horse, shapely and attractive (oops sorry, I’m distracting myself, hehehe!) that I’ve named Sparkles! After pulling it out of the shipping box, assembling it, and snapping the attachments in place, it was ready for a test run. I adjusted the height setting for bare floors and off I went.

My joy was indescribable! The suction power of this thing was amazing, and the dust container was see-through plastic showing the accumulation of dust and dirt, a characteristic I found very satisfying. I was only going to vacuum the kitchen and ended up vacuuming the entire house, including the basement office!

While vacuuming, I noticed my face and jaw became really tight. Then I realized it’s because I was smiling so big! OMG! I was in ecstatic bliss. I’ve never vacuumed with a smile, not to mention with a skip in my step. I couldn’t wait to get to the next room to vacuum it. I got into all of the nooks and crannies that my old vacuum cleaner couldn’t get to. And this new vacuum has a removable hose that I can use to reach all the way up to the vaulted ceiling where communities of house spiders had invaded. All gone. All clean. It was exhilarating!

Later I realized what was going on. I was completely focused, one-pointed, absorbed, ecstatic, almost possessed in the state of bliss while vacuuming! In Sanskrit, this is called Ananda Tandava – the dance of bliss, referring to Shiva Nataraja (The Lord of the Dance). Ananda is bliss and Tandava is the experience of being wholly in the state of your state. No interruptions. No interference. No judgment, desire, worry, anxiety, or regret. In other words, no me. I was out of the way, except for being the witness of my experience. I was one with the moment, merged with it, while also noticing my “mergedness.” This is the ultimate goal of Yoga! I felt so energized afterwards, I could hardly sit still.

Shiva nataraja murti with flower garland

This is the practice of self-love. How so? I loved myself by recognizing the need for a new vacuum cleaner, admitting that to myself and, as a householder, letting it be okay that occasionally, appliances need to be replaced. Then I allowed myself to feel worthy enough to deserve it and ultimately go out and purchase a new vacuum cleaner.

It was self-love to assemble the new vacuum and appreciate all of the updated technology and the thought process of the designers behind creating such an extraordinary and effective machine. I also recognized that, embedded into the design, was ease of use. It was very user-friendly and I had no difficulty putting it together and using it.

Well, I did have one issue which was when I was using the hose to clean the vaulted ceiling, by mistake, I put Sparkles on my bed so I could reach higher. Sparkles then began eating my bedspread which got caught in the rotary brush and it began to smoke! Yikes! I must have singed the belt. I was horrified that maybe out of my extreme exuberance and absorption I put stress on Sparkles and hurt her.

I turned her off and gave her space to cool down and process what just happened. When I came back, she smiled at me and was good to go. She was able to integrate the stress and I felt her forgive me for my ignorance. She recognized that I’m on a learning curve and she allowed me to learn with love, without shaming me.

I learned my lesson – never to place the vacuum cleaner on the bed! Maybe she thought I was making a move on her and her shakti got too hot too fast! Who knows? I’ll never know. But what I do know is that I’m in love with Sparkles and I’m so grateful she has come to bring me joy! I vowed to offer joy back to her by keeping her well-maintained!

Love in relationship (whether that’s with another human, animal, or object) is a mirror of the state of our own heart.

In any love relationship, we want three things – 1. To be seen. 2. To be safe. 3. And to be loved (which includes being accepted, supported, championed, encouraged, held, appreciated, valued, and adored).

man and woman holding hands

As ridiculous as this may seem, these are the qualities of heart I feel toward Sparkles. I SAW myself – my need to upgrade my vacuum cleaner and release the old one. I achieved a state of SAFETY – I was no longer afraid to spend the money for a new vacuum cleaner and that I’ll be okay financially. Also, I was no longer afraid of making a change in my routine as a householder. I LOVED myself by making one little piece of my householder life a little easier, effective, and joyous! I’m grateful!

If we can find joy in all of the little, insignificant events of our day, think of how profound the joy and bliss of our spiritual practices of yoga and meditation can be…

May you find joy in ALL that you do! Don’t play small. Honor yourself. Honor your life. Give yourself what you need to make your life a little easier. Then embrace Ananda Tandava – take total delight in becoming absorbed in the state of your state!

May you practice the yoga of self-love in every moment and enjoy the bliss of being a householder yogi – a heart follower, the highest expression of divine consciousness. I hope to see you on the mat soon!


Todd and the Ashaya Yoga Team

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