Finally, I had the sort of relaxing Sunday morning I’ve been craving for months. I spent it doing laundry and ironing.
You think I’ve lost my marbles—right? Wrong. Actually, I was finding them.
I really feel these days that things aren’t the way they used to be. Our grandparents used to sit out on the back porch at night and chat with passing neighbours, but today we’re all rushing around multi-tasking. Those who lived before power saws, washing machines, dishwashers and electric irons had plenty to keep them busy, but their tasks also kept them focussed—they pondered while they worked. By default, that pondering might be no more than daydreaming or spacing out, but it can also be put to good use by bringing a mindful focus into the equation.
As I iron, I watch the flow of the iron over the shirt, slow down to adjust for every seam and avoid unnecessary creasing. I’m attentive to every detail, and aware of my attentiveness too. This sort of multi-layered attention is the essence of mindfulness. It sharpens your wits, improves concentration and keeps you in the present moment. It’s one of the most effortless forms of meditation, not just calming but also clarifying.
I learned years ago that the most mundane physical tasks are ideal ways to preoccupy the body and free up the mind in a healthy way. It’s a terrible waste to despise washing dishes, sweeping the floor and folding towels. It’s got to be done anyway. With mindfulness, putting your life in order puts your mind in order too. This is just practice; later on when I’m in a tough situation, that little bit of extra mental space makes all the difference between letting go of the stress and identifying with it.