Mindfulness Activity #32
Many mindfulness practices involve sitting and focusing on breath. They are valuable practices, because they help us to train our minds to shift towards or away from things as we need in order to be more comfortable, to tolerate things we can’t control, or to be more effective and productive in our lives. There are also many active mindfulness practices. These can include walking, yoga, washing dishes, or as in today’s practice…cleaning.
Marie Kondo is a Japanese organizing consultant whose message is that cleaning and tiding can be “life changing.” She advocates for mindful attention to our things and how we keep them. She asks people to go through their drawers and to touch each item and consider if it is essential, if it is useful, and if it sparks a feeling of joy in them. She advocates letting go of things that are neither essential nor spark joy.
Another quick story…I visited a juvenile facility that operated using military rules and principles, and also taught mindfulness and other skills. Each boy there took pride in showing me his drawer which contained tightly rolled t-shirts and clothing. Their beds were made with tight corners, and their shoes shined. They explained how they liked to keep their things this way and how it required attention and patience. They said their practice translated into calm and order in their lives. The act of cleaning and organizing mindfully, and maintaining order throughout the day was a mindfulness practice. When they were upset of angry, they would go to their drawers and fold.
So today, the practice is to choose your intention around cleaning or organizing. Pick a drawer or a room to organize. You can practice Marie Kondo-style… clearing clutter and leaving things that bring you joy, you can organize and clean with military precision, or you can simply throw yourself into sweeping or dusting or laundry. The practice can be as short or as long as you have time for. Try not to judge yourself for all the things you wish you could do or need to do. In fact, if you have a large pile of laundry, leave a tiny bit, just to teach you about acceptance. If you maintain a practice, there will always be laundry. The idea of today’s practice is the activity itself…not the end goal…It is cultivating attention to our things and engaging with respect and care that is the act of mindfulness.
As I was writing this, my cat jumped past the fireplace screen into cold ashes from yesterday and dashed out. I had a plan for my mindful cleaning practice today, but I think she just changed it.
Have a meaningful practice and a peaceful day.