“When you do something you should burn yourself completely, like a good bonfire, leaving no trace of yourself.” ~Shunryu Suzuki
By Leo Babauta
Zen master Suzuki Roshi spoke about the idea of leaving no trace — doing something with complete presence, and then moving on to the next thing without holding on to previous activities.
His wonderful advice for doing any activity was to do things with “a simple, clear mind.”
One way to apply this is with a simple decluttering habit: clean up your mess when you’re done. This is a more literal way to “leave no trace” … not exactly what Suzuki Roshi was talking about, as he meant that we should leave no trace in our minds … but still a very useful practice.
For me, this means simply putting things away and cleaning up a bit when I’m done with a task:
Wash my dish and clean the table and counters after I’ve eaten.
Put my clothes in the hamper (or hang them up if they’re still clean) after I’ve showered.
Put away materials that I’ve used after I do a work task.
Make my bed after I wake up.
In practice, this means you have to be mindful of what you’re doing, and conscious that you are moving from one task to another. Most of us rush from one thing to the next without thinking about the transition, but when you’re done with one thing, this is a good time to appreciate the space between things, to breathe and notice if you’re staying present, and to clean up your me…