By Seamus Anthony
Did you know you can practice meditation in pretty much any situation?
Turning Mindless Chores into Mindful Chores
We usually think of housework as being pretty mindless work. That’s why some people like it, they find it relaxing, and why others (like me) hate it. I dislike it because I would much rather be somehow engaging the grey matter a bit more (by doing something creative).
Why do I feel the desire to be doing something more creative? Because I have an idea in my head that this is more worthwhile – but the truth is no action is more or less worthwhile in life – they are just what they are no more no less.
I know this in theory – but nevertheless I have always tended to get frustrated and irritable when doing household chores. That’s why (as my wonderful, long-suffering partner will attest) I avoid them like the plague.
And that was how I intended to live my life out; I never really thought I’d come to a place in life like I am now where the amount of household work I am required to do has massively increased.
Newsflash: Children Create Havoc, Mess and LOTS of Housework!
Seriously, as we were wistfully looking at the growing bump and contemplating names for the impending bundle of joy, I never for a moment twigged that with the joy of becoming a father would come a gigantic increase in the amount of crap that needs doing around the home.
It creeps up on you too, at first having a little bubs seemed like a walk in the park, all she did was sleep, eat and poop. But now, as she enthusiastically carves a path of destruction towards her first birthday, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time wiping, washing and tidying up. And that’s just me, save your sympathy for my darling partner. As I type away in some kind of warped attempt at breadwinning, I can see her out my window hanging yet another load of washing out to dry. It just never stops – and we’ve only got one kid!
Yeah, So Like, Whatever Gramps – What About the Meditation Lesson Already?
Oh right, sorry. Got carried away.
Mindfulness is a term used to describe the process of focussing only on what it is that you are doing now in the present moment. This skill is pretty much the basic skill of meditation (although there will be various opinions on this statement no doubt).
So whether you’re processing customers at the fast-food counter, perfecting a new skateboard move, coding the next Facebook, or in my (sad) case, doing endless piles of dishes, you can quite realistically meditate while you work.
Here’s the ‘Housework Meditation’ technique:
- Focus only on the task at hand
- And your breathing
- Breathe normally, just pay attention to it
- And the task at hand
- Try and catch yourself when you start thinking about something else, something irrelevant to the task at hand
- Then – without berating yourself for losing concentration – move your focus back to the task at hand
- repeat until the task is done.
Boring – But Beneficial
Remembering that the idea is to remain focussed on your task as much as possible, this process will be easy if you are enjoying what you are doing, or if it requires a lot of concentration.
It may prove more challenging if the job you are doing is dull, repetitive and, in itself, not challenging, but the benefits for practising this “moving meditation” are plentiful.
- You will do the job better (and potentially faster).
- You will be exercising your “focus muscle”, i.e. your ability to concentrate.
- And, with any luck, you will hopefully notice an increased level of relaxation and inner peace.
This last benefit is why I try to practice meditation while I do the dishes. Otherwise my irritation at this never-ending, boring chore starts to wind me up and before I know it my mind takes this bad attitude and runs with it. Next thing you know I am seething about “what she said” and “what he did”, and this kind of thinking my friends, is bad news. Very bad news indeed.
On the other hand if (on a good night) I manage to relax and clear my mind of bullshit while I clean those (wonderful, lovely) pots and pans, I find myself infused with a Universal perspective and a sense of gratitude. Then when I turn around to see that the little horror bundle-of-joy has created some gigantic mess and the darling wife is losing the plot over it, I am more likely to be able to help diffuse the situation with my, like, totally Zen energy (maaan).
Any interesting ways and places that you like to meditate? Tell us all about them in the comments section below, and don’t forget to go here to get your free e-book (by me, it’s quite good).