Your Spacious Self
I knew that 2016 would be a year of clearing. I had too much to do, too much stuff, too much mental clutter. I felt suffocated. Something had to change.
I had an idea floating around in my mind of intentionally setting time aside to devote to clearing. A set amount of hours each week, on a set day, where the only focus was getting rid of stuff.
I mentioned the idea to an online group when the topic of the new year, goals and resolutions came up. Someone in the group offered me the title of a book that she said helped her.
I’m all about books. And a recommended book, to me, is a piece of gold. It’s been tried and someone deems it worthy to offer to someone else.
The book was called Your Spacious Self by Stephanie Bennett Vogt. I bought the digital copy right away. (Already trying to reduce clutter.)
The book started with the author talking about her morning routine of putting her clean dishes away.
She said the act of placing each item where it belongs first thing in the morning gives her the feeling of spaciousness. Each plate is stacked in it’s place. Each glass has it’s own space in the cabinet. And after everything is put away, her counter is clear and clean.
I can relate. I also have a morning routine of emptying the dish drainer and putting all the clean dishes away. I often feel I can’t really start my day until the dishes are put away and the counters wiped down.
However, the thought had never occurred to me before reading the book of making the task a mindful practice of clearing. I didn’t use the time spent in appreciation of the items or the space devoted to each one. I was often distracted by swirling thoughts of the past, plans for the day, and the constant to-do list. Cramming utensils into already full drawers while wondering how I was going to make space for all the things I should be doing that day.
Mindfully Washing Dishes
There’s a lot of talk of mindfulness these days. Some find it a bit woo-woo. Perhaps too much on the spiritual side. Is it meditation? Do you have to chant or repeat some list of affirmations?
I think of mindfulness as simply being fully present in the moment. Being consciously aware of what I’m doing and walking with the thoughts that are associated with it.
Sometimes mindfulness can lead to epiphanies and new perspectives.
Washing Dishes and a Perspective on Business
Rowena shared with me how applying mindfulness to the act of hand washing dishes led to an epiphany in how she approaches her business life.
Rowena starts by equating washing silverware to the mundane, monotony, and tedious tasks that she must tend to daily in her work. These tasks don’t seem to move the needle much but tend to take up an inordinate amount of valuable time. It’s the daily grind. All work. No play.
Rowena appreciates washing plates and bowls the most. They open up more counter space when cleaned and don’t have any tiny places for food to get stuck. They’re like the fun and creative portions of projects. They move quickly, create the feeling of accomplishment and show obvious progress.
Cups and glasses are similar to the occasional awkward project that requires a bit of extra attention or perhaps a special tool. Rowena says that the usefulness of these projects balance the slight annoyance of the spending the extra time to care for them.
Big projects, daunting tasks, and procrastination remind Rowena of washing pots and pans. They’re bigger than anything else. They take the most time and are often the dirtiest. In the long run, these are the utensils that we use over and over again. They bring the most value to us as we nourish our bodies. The best way to deal with them is to get to them right away. Add a bit of soap and water immediately and allow them to soak if necessary.
In business, these are the biggest and most valuable clients. Perhaps the work is daunting. Perhaps it will take a long time to complete. However, procrastinating only prolongs the time needed, makes relations sticky, and dirties more water to see it through to completion. Yet, with a little forethought, planning, and immediate action, these tasks can be broken down into more manageable pieces.
From Mindless to Mindful
Mindfulness takes the mundane and transforms it into something profound. It allows you to step back from simple, seemingly mindless acts and helps you make space for gratitude without judgment. There are some things in life that we just have to take care of. There’s no way around it. But instead of feeling stuck in the situation, just be in the situation. Take part. Be an active participant in your life.
The next time you’re washing your dishes, clearing the counters or making your bed, be mindful. Appreciate the moment and be intentional with your actions. You’ll never know what new insights you might gain in the process.