Mindfulness around the house

We’re all busy people, and many of us don’t have time (or are unwilling to make time) to practice being mindful. But we can do this as we engage with activities throughout the day. Here are a couple of exercises to help you to practice being mindful – being involved the present moment – during your morning routine, or around the house.

1) Mindfulness in your morning

Pick something that you do that makes up part of your daily morning routine, such as brushing your teeth, shaving, or having a shower. When you do it, totally focus on what you are doing: the body movements, the taste, the touch, the smell, the sight, the sound etc.

  • For example, when you’re in the shower, notice the sounds of the water as it sprays out of the nozzle, and as it hits your body, as it gurgles down the plughole
  • Notice the temperature of the water, and the feel of it in on your face, on your shoulders, and running down our legs
  • Notice the smell of the soap and shampoo, and the feel of them against your skin
  • Notice the water droplets on the walls or shower curtain, the water dripping down your body and the steam rising upwards
  • Notice the movements of your arms as you wash
  • When thoughts arise, acknowledge them, let them be, and bring your attention back to the shower.

Again and again, your attention will wander. As soon as you realize this has happened, gently acknowledge it, note what distracted you, and bring your attention back to the shower.

2) Mindfulness in domesticity

Pick a chore that you normally try to rush through – one you would usually try to distract yourself from. Or maybe one for which you just ‘grit your teeth’ and try to ‘get through it’. Ironing clothes? Vacuuming floors? Washing dishes? I’m sure you can think f something. Aim to do this domestic task as a mindfulness practice.

Let’s take ironing clothes as an example

  • Notice the color and shape of the clothing, and the pattern made by the creases, and the new pattern as the creases disappear
  • Notice the hiss of the steam, the creak of the ironing board, the quiet sound of the iron moving over the material
  • Notice the grip of your hand on the iron, and the movement of your arm and your shoulder.

If boredom or frustration arises, simply acknowledge that it is there, and bring your attention back to the chore at hand. No matter what you are focusing on, when thoughts arise, acknowledge them, let them be, and bring your attention back to what you are doing. Again and again, your attention will wander. Don’t fight it. As soon as you realize this has happened, gently acknowledge it, note what distracted you, and bring your attention back to your current activity.

(Adapted from Russ Harris’s The Happiness Trap)

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