We have had a busy time recently preparing our house for an important family gathering. Our house is Victorian and in need of a lot of TLC, so there has been a fair bit of decorating, as well as cleaning to be done. This past week has seen me holding layers of wallpaper on the end of a broom as my other half expertly papered an imperfect ceiling and hauling weighty sofas out of storage and in through the window, (massive bruise on right knee as a lasting reminder). Then,  steam cleaning said sofas, as well as various carpets and soft furnishings, dusting, polishing, hoovering, and then  making up spare beds.

 So Sunday is a duvet day, but not in the sense I might have preferred. A frothy coffee and a croissant in bed listening to Steve Wright’s Sunday Love songs might have hit the mark a little more closely but the impending arrival of thirteen of our nearest and dearest sets the agenda. 

 Wrestling with two super-king sized duvets, I am tying myself in the usual knots of finding and losing corners, trying to straighten out lumps and bumps and getting the bulk of the winter thickness duvet evenly spread inside the cover. It is never a task I look forward to and I find it time consuming and frustrating. And before you attack the comments field with the advice of turning the cover inside out etc. etc. Yup, been doing that for years. Arms not wide enough!

 As I am encased in the marshmallow folds of  one particularly recalcitrant quilt,  I remember my lessons in mindfulness. My mind, naturally is focusing on finishing the task as quickly as possible in order to move onto something I will find more engaging (like cleaning toilets! ;-) )  All that arises out of that mindset however, is frustration, boredom and negativity. Mindfulness gives us the opportunity to be in a state of present awareness by focusing fully on the task in hand. It is also about practising non-attachment, that is not judging whether the task is good, or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, boring or exciting. It is about approaching every task just as that, a job to be done in a state of mindful, present awareness.

 This way, every job gives us an opportunity for meditation. Here’s how…

 Breathe – focus on the breath – allow it to flow

Focus completely on the task in hand. Observe yourself doing it.

Breathe.

When the mind wanders, don’t judge it, just notice and bring your attention back to the breath and to the task in hand.

When frustration arises, again don’t judge it, just notice and bring your attention back to the breath and to the task in hand.

When you find yourself wishing the job was over so that you can do something more “interesting,” remind yourself that there is nothing more interesting that what is happening right now. All that is ever happening is what is happening right now.

When you find yourself thinking that you could be busy doing more “important,” things, remind yourself that there is nothing more important than what is happening right now.

When your mind tells you that nobody enjoys filling duvets/cleaning toilets/washing dishes/doing the laundry/picking up dog poo/whatever, and why should you be any different? Remind yourself that this is what the mind does, and come back to following the breath and to the task in hand.

When your mind tries to convince you that this mindfulness stuff is all bullshit anyway, remind yourself that this is what the mind does, and come back to following the breath and to the task in hand.

 Whatever the mind throws at you – Smile. Breathe. Focus. Repeat.

 This way, it isn’t necessary to find time and a clean floor to practice meditation (although it can help to create that space) Every action brings potential for meditation and focus, for bringing one’s awareness into the present moment.

 And you might end up with that clean floor anyway!

 Let me know how you get on!

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