Okay, real talk. Most of us are pretty jammed up right now. Or unbalanced. Or just plain frustrated. Or all of the above.
A lot of the things that would otherwise be of help to us are not an option right now. That weekly yoga class you’ve been fighting for. That evening with loved ones that’s always a balm to the soul. The workout at the gym, climbing hall, swimming pool that turns your tension into energy. All of this is not available or only limitedly so.
Few people feel in balance right now. There are hardly any moments when we are completely centered in ourselves. Rather, we are mostly thinking about problems we want to solve, about things that have to be done, that scare us, that won’t let us go. We struggle with this already in “normal” times – the fact that so many of our usual strategies cannot be implemented now puts us even more out of tune.
And now I come to you with household. What? Why? This, on top of everything else? That’s something I have to do along with all the other stuff, anyway.
Yes, exactly. That’s why. Because we all have to do the laundry anyway, put food on the table and eventually clean up the crumbs. The dishes don’t wash themselves and the clean laundry doesn’t find its way into the cupboard by itself (although a laundry basket can serve wonderfully as an additional cupboard).
Tasks in the household are often things that we do not like to do. Which we do on the side. While we are talking on the phone, looking after the children doing their homework, checking the voicemail, arguing with our partner about the household, listening to a podcast, dancing to our favourite music. Which we squeeze between two e-mails, into the 5 minutes when the kids are distracted, into the commercial break of our favorite series.
And yet they give us wonderful opportunities to completely focus on what we’re doing. To become fully involved, yes, one with the action. Give it a go:
Think of a chore that you’d like to dedicate yourself to for five minutes. For example, putting away the dishes, peeling potatoes, folding laundry, cleaning the mirror or taking out the garbage.
And now devote your full attention to this activity. When you notice thoughts coming up, remember your task and redirect your focus to it.
How does your body feel during the action? Which muscles do you use? Do you continue to breathe relaxed?
Which aspects of the task have you not yet noticed? The sizzling of the dish soap froth? The innumerable little rebows in the bubbles? What might you have ignored previously?
The sonorous suction noise of the vacuum cleaner? The sharp smell of the organic waste? Your bent posture when folding the laundry?
Observe all these impressions, let them come and go. Try not to judge, but rather try to remain curious about which sensation you will experience next.
Mindfulness means to observe and accept perceptions that are also labelled as unpleasant. To regard them as belonging to life and to pay attention to them for a short time without giving them room to brood.
I wish you much joy with this mindfulness exercise for your everyday life!