Who doesn’t love a good chore?! Says no one. Ever.
Okay, I take it back. I’ve encountered a few weirdos claiming to love to clean one thing or another. I’m skeptical but I’ll admit, I even have my moments. Mostly when I’m angry. Piss me off and I’ll have that toilet scrubbed so you can eat out of it.
Luckily I’m so zen (or else repressing emotions) that I’m not angry very often, but that can also make it a little more difficult to get motivated to sweep and scrub.
Alas, I want to live in a clean home so I have to do something. So instead of forcing myself and cussing out the broom the entire time, I use chores as a way to practice mindfulness.
Now if I’m being entirely honest, not all the time. Sometimes I’d rather listen to the Dodgers game or watch an episode of Dateline while I scour the dishes. Although, I’d argue that I can do both simultaneously and mindfully. Which might be up for debate.
Regardless, chores are an awesome way to practice mindfulness. They’re something you have to do so you might as well get something out of them other than cleanliness. They also involve repetitive actions that make it easier to bring your mind back to the present moment over and over, as many times as you need to.
The key is to really hone in on these repetitive actions, fully experiencing what they’re like using all of your senses. For example, if you wash dishes by hand (Lucky ducks, those of you with a dishwasher.), you observe the bubbles the soap makes and the crud leaving the bowl as you scrub it away. You feel the soap bubbles on your hands and the material of the dishes against your palms. You smell the scent of the dish soap or rotting leftovers from two months ago you just found in the back of the fridge (Mindfulness isn’t always pleasant.). You listen to the sounds of dishes clanking or scrubbing of sponges against the plates (Or baseball game in the background.). You probably don’t taste much while washing dishes but if it’s non-toxic soap and you’re curious, by all means.
Also, notice your thoughts and emotions as you do chores. And practice curiosity and acceptance of them. Are there particular chores that really make your blood boil? Why is this? Are there some where it’s more easy to feel peaceful while doing them? Do memories from your childhood arise? Do you use the time to worry about the future? All of this is useful information. Don’t hold onto it but also don’t push it way. Simply notice the thoughts and emotions and let them run their course.
In practicing this, I’ve actually had moments where I’ve felt incredible joy in doing mundane tasks. I’ve felt more calm and focused, noticing more details than usual. This leaves me with the sense that I’m more fully participating in and experiencing every last bit life has to offer me. As well, I feel such gratitude that I have a home and the physical ability to take care of it.
This doesn’t happen every single time I do a chore but it does more and more. This is why it’s called “mindfulness practice.” And my life has become all the more sweeter as a result. What chores will you try to do more mindfully? Or if you have already given this a shot how did it go?