Almost no matter who you are daily living can be both mundane and boring. Even if I wanted I can’t change that. But I do believe there is value to be had and perhaps I can make a little change in the way you go about your day which will make them seem a little more worth your time.
The thought about writing this post actually came about several months ago watching my then roommate doing the dishes. I have since observed other do somewhat the same.
Awareness can sound very spiritual and fluffy and to some people it might be just that, but in the context I will use it here it’s neither. It is more in the realm of being present. I am quite sure that whoever you are there are times when awareness comes very natural. Usually this is doing things we enjoy such as playing with friends or working on something we love. Making love could and should be an example of this – but most people are way more in their head than their body, thinking about whether they perform, how they look, “does he really like me”, “will she see me again” etc. that they perform the most enjoyable physical act without actually being present in their physical body.
Then how does making love tie into doing the dishes? I’ll get to that.
Unless you’re a Prince(please drop a comment if you are), then you probably have to do with quite mundane tasks in your life. They are tasks that needs to be done but aren’t all that enjoyable. This could be as mentioned earlier doing the dishes. Then why will awareness and doing the dishes ever merge into something beautiful? Beautiful might be overselling it, but they can actually meet and have a nice pleasant conversation.
Doing the dishes from a standpoint of “this is a dull task that involves putting water on plates and brushing a bit” not only makes it more annoying but also makes your end result sloppy. If you do it that way you miss the end result which is actually making the dishes clean. Thats what I observed with previous roommates. They just splattered some water on each plate, knife and fork, rubbed a bit with a brush and then dried them. This often left the dishes with stains that then ended in the dish towel – then you have a dirty dish towel and semi dirty dishes – good job!
The “goal” of much meditation is to bring more focus and awareness into your life. Be more present. Doing mundane tasks is an obvious chance for doing this. Being more aware means being more clear about the objective. When you do the dishes you make sure you do a good job, you do the dishes in order to make them clean. You do not do it as a strange act of splashing a bit of water on things in your sink. You shouldn’t necessarily enjoy it, but you should be present enough to know the objective of your task and do a good job of it.
If your mind is 10 different places and none of them are with your physical body doing the dishes you end up doing a very bad job, maybe dropping plates or glasses. This is exactly the same as with making love without being present – you can’t enjoy the experience if you’re not actually there. You’ll end up doing a bad “job” and perhaps even setting yourself up for anxiety next time around.
Of course this won’t suddenly turn mundane tasks into pleasurable experiences and sometimes you’ll just be in too much of a hurry to do anything other than storm through them. But just once in a while try to be a little more present while shaving, doing the dishes or cleaning. Even though it is mundane tasks there is still satisfaction to be had from doing a good job rather than a sloppy one.
Perhaps in time you’ll end up being a “artist of the mundane”.
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