It’s all too easy to rush through our housework in an effort to just get it over with so we can move on to something else. But what if we took a different approach? What if we used housework to practice mindfulness?
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Practice Mindfulness While Cleaning House
Put on an apron.
Wearing an apron protects your clothes while cleaning but there’s more to it than that. Tying on an apron sends a message to your brain that you are changing gears. Jewish men may wear a tallit (prayer shawl) during morning prayers; a Buddhist may wear a light shawl while meditating; and until the mid-60s Catholic women donned a thin lace veil over their hair before going to Mass.
While I’m not comparing an apron to these religious garments, there is something about the ritual of wearing a special garment for a special purpose. Putting on a freshly starched apron can elevate cleaning to another level.
Turn on some music.
I have a meditation playlist on Spotify. Because I’ve used it for meditation purposes for a few years now, it immediately triggers a calm, meditative mood for me. But you can choose any music that elicits a calm, focused attitude.
I like to light a candle as I begin cleaning a room. I then extinguish it when I’ve completed my tasks in that room and move to the next.
Diffuse essential oils.
The impact of scent is often overlooked or undervalued but it’s an important part of my meditative cleaning. There’s a reason people burn incense while meditating. While I do love incense, I only burn it outdoors while enjoying “Porch Time”. It may not be safe indoors and since I’m asthmatic, I am cautious about this sort of thing. Instead, I like to diffuse essential oils. (Do a bit of research on the safety of this practice if you have children or pets in your home.)
Do one room at a time.
If you’re flitting about from one room to another and then back again, it’s not going to help you maintain a calm, focused mindset. Before you begin, gather all the supplies you will need to clean, and perhaps a basket to gather items which belong elsewhere. Determine whether you will clean for a certain amount of time or until certain tasks are completed and then stick to it.
Focus on what you are doing.
Sometimes I like to listen to podcasts or daydream while doing routine cleaning. And that’s perfectly fine. But for meditative cleaning focus on the task at hand. Pay attention to the way warm soapy water feels on your hands while washing dishes. Enjoy bringing a gleam to furniture as you slowly buff with beeswax polish. Notice the sparkle of glass as you clean a window. And for a truly meditative experience, polish silver.
Consider how the simple act of housekeeping blesses you and your family.
As you clean, give some thought to what this act means for you and your family. Rather than dreading it as an onerous task, think of what a pleasure it is to live in a clean and organized house. Home should be our place of refuge. When our houses are at least reasonably tidy, comfortable and fresh-smelling, we can truly relax and enjoy spending time there.
Finish each room with a special touch.
A single flower in a bud vase. Turning on a lamp or two rather than harsh overhead lighting. A newly arranged vignette on a side table. A light misting of your homemade lavender linen spray. Try adding just a little something extra as you finish each room.
Silently express gratitude for the room you just cleaned.
Finally, take a moment for gratitude. The kitchen you just cleaned is where you and your family enjoy nourishing food and conversation around the table. The bathroom allows you the luxury of running water for basic hygiene, something not always available in third world countries. Whenever I do laundry I try to recall the fact that there was a time my grandmother washed clothes with water drawn from a well and heated on the stove. With relatively few exceptions, even the most humble American home contains luxuries unheard of in centuries past.
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