Mindfulness at home
tend to your home like it is a sacred place
My goal is to blend the sacred with the mundane. I used to think mindfulness was only something I practiced on the cushion. And, this kind of pissed me off. While on a ten day silent meditation retreat in Thailand I actually yelled at my teacher during a rare one-on-one meeting. “It’s all fine and dandy that you can sit here and meditate in this quiet and sacred place. But, most of us live in the ‘real world’ with bills to pay and people who talk.” I was jealous. My teacher listened. She agreed. It is hard. She didn’t have answers. I guess that’s why she moved to Thailand to live on a monastery. I came back from the trip with this lingering question: How do we live in our communities and maintain our mindfulness?
Mindfulness at Home is about transforming our relationship with the humdrum work of caring for a home. When a monk does chores, it is a profound practice. In our society, it is a sign of lack of talent and worth. This tired narrative taints the sacred act of tending to our homes and families. Let us connect with our homes as if they are monasteries, and turn the mundane into the sacred.
Here is what I know, keeping to a meditation practice on the cushion is essential. This is where you teach your body, your mind, and your soul to attend to breath. Breath is the cornerstone of this practice. On the cushion (or mat, or chair), we can deepen our awareness of self, learn to face mental and physical challenges, and establish a deep practice. Begin with breathing. Here is an article on Meditation Basics to help you get started. Start small, just a minute or two a day can grow into a larger practice. Most days I meditate for five to ten minutes.
It wasn’t until I had newborn babies in my house that I began to see how mindfulness could exist on a daily basis. Babies take up most, if not all, of one’s attention. Which is exactly where mindfulness begins, in the present moment. When caring for newborns I didn’t have time to worry about the future or fret over the past. I only had mental space for the here and now. I was also frustrated and tired a lot of the time, so the only way to manage those challenging situations was to breathe. There was nothing to do but breathe and know that this moment would pass. It was the hardest work I have ever done, and I was happy, not gleeful or overjoyed. I was content and at peace.
We will be nourished by those moments when we put aside our own agenda, and simply listen to our world.
But, my babies became more independent, and as my own independence increased I grew less content. No longer tethered to the constant needs of newborns, I had more time to worry and plan. Mentally I was less in the present. Wanting to maintain my mindfulness, I began to find ways to stay focused on the now. Below are links to articles I wrote on the tips and techniques I use for keeping a mindful mindset while making a home for our family.
- Visual Scavenger Hunt: Focus your mind on the search for patterns, colors, and textures.
- Turn It Upside Down: Take a new perspective and look at something in a new way.
- Breathe in Curiosity, Breathe out Gratitude: Mindfully Cultivating Happiness
Mindful Discipline: How to talk to your kids when they annoy the shit out of you.
Housework as Spiritual Work: Doing chores the mindful way.
Keeping a Garden Journal to Improve Mindfulness of Your Environment
Attending to the Phases of the Moon: A Meditation on Cycles and Rhythm