I’m very passionate about something called living mindfulness, a branch of mindfulness based on transforming common and necessary acts into spiritual experiences, like in my previous blog here. This type of mindfulness is some of the easiest to start with, since it requires little to no additional time to practice—perfect for the busy-body. This week, I’m focusing on how to turn some common chores into enjoyable experiences.
When our living spaces are clean, it does more for us than just make it presentable. Clean environments are proven to improve mood, focus, and help us rest better. When we’re engaged and enjoying the act of cleaning, or mood and intention then helps to create an even better environment. We start to become more grateful for our space, more aware of the small treasures it holds, and we’ll even feel safer in our homes. Conscious cleaning is another way of refreshing the energy of your abode, similar to this meditation.
Here are some ways to clean consciously:
- Dishes: I’ve started to love washing dishes since I began practicing more living mindfulness. When performing this chore, there are several ways to incorporate awareness and mindfulness. Like during any act, simply staying present will be the first step. Feel the water run over your hands, smell the dish soap, feel the texture of the sponge, and watch light reflect off of the surfaces of cleaned dishes.
You can also take this time to share some gratitude for the food you were able to eat out of the plates you wash, thank the earth for the water provided to help you clean, or send loving empathy towards those who do not have enough food to fill their bowls. If you’re running low on food yourself, you can also pray or meditate for abundance during this act of cleaning too.
- Dusting: This is a great time to finally pay attention to the corners and details of your home. If someone asked you to describe the corner of a cabinet to them, could you accurately describe it? Hopefully, after staying present during dusting, you will be able to. It’s surprising how beautiful the crevasses we clean are! Maybe this will be a great opportunity to study how intricately cobwebs form or what dust looks like when it drifts in the air.
Other forms of thought-based mindfulness here include using dusting as a way to release your own past. If you’re holding onto things you feel are weighing you down, find an area to dust and visualize this dust as holding the article from your past. As you dust the surface, imagine that past relationship, stressor, etc. releasing and being swept away with the dust. Exhale and feel some of that weight lift off your shoulders.
- Vacuuming: This is a practice that I doubt any of us would associate to being peaceful and capable of fostering mindfulness. Yet, it can! The sound of vacuuming is one of the unique parts of the chore and, although often overbearing, it’s very interesting. Have you ever given yourself the space to really listen to it? What does it actually sound like? Next time you vacuum, pay attention to the difference between the sounds and the silence. Listen closely to the sound itself and then to the contrasting intricacies of noise hidden in what we perceive as “quiet.”
- Organization: This one is what truly fosters a clean-looking environment. Pick up that clothes on the floor, make your bed, organize your desk. When mindfully doing this, pick a small area to start with, perhaps just the clothes on your floor. Pick them up, shake them out to dispel the “cast aside” energy they’re are holding onto, and put them away in the laundry or for another day (depending on their smell, most likely!) As more of your floor becomes exposed, pay attention to what it looks like and how you feel the whole energy of your room shifts with every small change. With just five minutes of work, you might feel a lot of excitement! There’s something very engaging about mindfully cleaning.
This same principle can apply to all sorts of organization. Whichever surface is becoming more visible should be the center of your conscious attention. You can also pay extra attention to the sensations of cleaning, like what the paper feels like to lift, the clothes to hang, the drawer to close. Any and all awareness will increase mindfulness.
Cleaning itself isn’t boring, it’s our thoughts that convince us that it is dull. There is quite a lot that happens when we neaten up our environment! Sounds, smells, sensations, and visuals can all capture our attention and engage us if we chose to turn our minds off for a minute. Instead of thinking “gosh I wish I could do something else,” try “in this chore, what is interesting? What is unique?” If you really search, I promise the chore won’t dull you. After a month of doing this, I now really enjoy cleaning. Surprising, right?