Scrubbing the dishes. Washing the laundry. Sweeping the floor. Housecleaning is an ongoing series of chores that never ends, only repeating day after day after day. Most people don’t relish the mundane tasks of keeping house, but the monotony, mindlessness and repetitive nature of cleaning makes it a perfect occasion for therapeutic healing.
Doubtful? Consider this: throughout life, you have probably changed homes, jobs, friends, and even your main partner as the years go by. The important elements of our world are often in flux as we move from one life stage to another. People drop in and drop out, careers change and interests morph into new passions.
But what is always the same? Dirty dishes. Laundry to be washed. Floors to be cleaned. The dirty little details of life give it some congruity, a harmonious confluence if you will – something not to be dismissed in our quick-moving modern age.
You can hate every minute of housekeeping, you can learn to appreciate its therapeutic healing benefits, or you can hire a maid to clean your space. Those dirty dishes are never going anywhere, so you might as well make peace with your daily chores by benefiting from their side effects.
1. Practice kitchen sink meditation. Plowing through a pile of soiled dishware is a hot, steamy task that can’t be done quickly unless you also want to clean up broken glass. However, you don’t really need to pay attention to clean a plate, so use this time at the sink to meditate. Clear your mind while you clean your cutlery, using the warm water, soapy smells and clinking sounds to refocus your brain with its senses when it wanders.
2. Feel in control…of a drawer. Life is chock full of factors we cannot control at all, and even important things like your health, family and home can be affected by forces outside your influence. Do you know what you can control? Your underwear drawer, the shelves of your linen closet and the state of your desktop. When life seems to be spinning out of control and you feel powerless to do anything about it, choose a drawer, closet, cabinet or piece of furniture to clean out completely. Choosing a small task makes it an achievable goal, and once you’ve finished organizing the space, you will relish the feelings of power and control over your environment.
3. Scrub away your stress by tackling a big dirty project. Angry? Sad? Scared? Full of negative emotions that you don’t know what to do with? Don’t hold back: put on your plastic gloves, break out the bleach, grab the wire scrubber and go to town on that filthy oven, overgrown back porch or living room rug. Let your negative emotions fuel your actions, and use elbow grease to get out those uncomfortable feelings for some deep cleaning and therapeutic healing.
4. Count your blessings as you pick up your house. You can see your messy home as clean-up task to grudgingly perform, or you can realize how very lucky you are to have a home to clean. Whether you are picking up toys off the family room floor, sorting through a stack of laundry or scrubbing your bathroom plumbing, count how many blessings you have as you polish or organize each one. Feelings of gratitude will flow into your heart, usurping any angst you previously had about the time you spend to clean.
5. Purge your dirt and your extra emotions. It’s a fantastic feeling to relax after you’ve spent the day cleaning and your house is spic and span. Keep these future feelings in mind, even as you begin your cleaning chores. As you empty the trash, take out the recycling and remove all refuse from your house, visualize your negative emotions going out with the junk. What is creating sadness, fear or anger in your life right now? See those emotions going down the drain or tossed with the trash, and let go of your hang-ups just as you let go of your recyclables.