Sunday Meditation: Everyday Chores
Meditation can be done anywhere and at any time. In fact, you can make anything that you do into a meditative activity, including housework. Choose any task to use no matter how mundane. For the purposes of this post, I will use washing dishes as an example.
Approach your task with fresh eyes. As if you were doing it for the first time, pay attention to every aspect of the job from start to finish. For instance, if you are doing dishes, note the temperature of the water, the pressure of the water out of the tap, the slippery feel of the dish soap, the lightness of the bubbles, the weight of the dishes as they drop into the water, the feel of your hands as they come out of the dish water, etc. We call this approach mindfulness. Continue with your chore in this manner until it is completed. If your mind wanders off of your task, just acknowledge your thoughts and refocus your attention on the dishes or whatever task you were doing.
After you finish your chore, debrief yourself: What did you notice? What surprised you in the process? How did you feel as you gave thought to something so ordinary? Did your feelings about this household chore change? This debriefing process can be as short or as long as you would like. You may find that focusing exclusively on one thing at a time allows you to enjoy some of the subtleties of your chores and of life in general.
Looking at everyday responsibilities mindfully allows us to appreciate the little things that we no longer notice. Mindfully completing jobs keeps us in the present, thinking about what we are doing rather than rethinking the past or planning the future. Years ago we used to talk about multi-tasking. Making to do lists while washing dishes, composing a letter while vacuuming, and singing along with the radio while you are driving are all examples of multi-tasking. You are doing multiple things at once, and not solely focusing on the task at hand. Among the many commonly acknowledged health benefits of living mindfully are a reduction in depressive symptoms, a lowered level of stress, and an increase in the ability to deal with life in general.
Whatever it is that you do, do it with all of your attention. Notice the changes in your mental attitudes and outlook as you shift your focus to the present moment. Namaste.