Presence and Gratitude, Making Chores Sacred
Author: Michelle Collins
Have you ever grumbled to yourself while doing dishes or folding laundry, cleaning the garage, raking leaves, or navigating the frightening black hole of a teenager’s room? In your mind you want to be anywhere but here, doing anything but this. And then you may experience feelings of frustration, perhaps anger at someone who took part in making the mess but is not doing their part to clean it up? No one likes chores; everyone has to do them.
Chores can be a blessing, a sacred act, an uplifting event. Chores can actually be enjoyable. How? Mindfulness and gratitude.
If you practice yoga, there is no doubt that you have experienced many moments of presence. For example, the transition from Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana) into Child’s Pose (Balasana). You move from challenge to rest and find gratitude for both experiences. Presence can sneak in during yoga practice when a pose is so challenging that you cannot think of anything else but where your body is in space and what you need to do to move through or hold the pose.
The mindfulness a yoga practitioner experiences on the mat can be translated into every aspect of life, including chores.
“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Being present in the present, it truly is the only place we can be, and if you can give yourself the gift of presence, especially in the face of challenges or undesirable activities, your life will fill with peace.
Doing dishes without mindfulness and gratitude:
“I can’t wait to be done with this, what should I watch on TV, when that kid gets home I am going to give her quite a talk about cleaning up after herself, I shouldn’t have to do everyone else’s dishes, am I the only person in the house who sees that this needs to be done?”
Add a bit of gratitude:
Cooking and cleaning up after a meal:
I am grateful to be able to provide nourishment to me and my family.
And a side of presence:
Feel the temperature and texture of the water, observe the contrast between the shapes and sizes of the items in the sink, how they feel in your hand.
Notice your posture, your feet on the floor, your knees, the orientation of your hips and torso to the sink, your shoulders and neck, this particular exercise in mindfulness may allows a shift in posture to a healthier alignment, relieving stress.
I am grateful I have clothes to keep me warm.
Notice the difference in texture and color of the fabrics as you fold them.
I am grateful for my space and the act of cleaning which makes my space sacred.
The bathroom: I am grateful for indoor plumbing.
When I was growing up my parents used to say to me, “Michelle, you need to change your attitude!” I remember hating that particular phrase because I had no idea what they were talking about, or how to accomplish it. And now, some decades later, I understand it completely and remind myself constantly to live in an attitude of gratitude. My parents were right, it took a few decades and a lot of yoga study to get it, but I understand how bring joy into the present moment, even if the present moment involves an undesirable task.