You’re Not Ill, You’re Just Out of Balance!

The Dishwashing Meditation

Are you one of those people who know you should be meditating but you still haven’t found the time to do so in the ten or twenty plus years you’ve been meaning to? You know it’s good for you, but yet you don’t do it. You still can’t find the time. Other things are still more important like watering the plants, cleaning out the kitty litter, making your kids’ lunches, washing the dishes, tidying the bedrooms, etc. You know that meditating is worth so much more for your health than all those other things, but yet you still…don’t…do it.

(And I’m talking from experience!)

I’m here to amalgamate the two for you: house chores and meditation. (Choritation?)

You know you’re going to get your house chores done, am I right? So now your meditation will get done no matter what. Your house will be clean, and so will your mind.

But first…

An evening in the life of Meghan:

The dishes were piled high. The scent of burnt beef was still in the air. The frying pan encrusted with over-cooked sausage called my name every time I walked by. The cappuccino machine was still splattered with this morning’s over-frothed milk. The soiled cutting board still held half a head of cauliflower on it because, damnit, I was just too busy to put it back in the fridge!

But I REALLY need to go and unwind, get peaceful in my body, and relax.

But it’s already nine o’clock, I’m getting tired, and those dishes won’t clean themselves…

…ok…insert about five more minutes of mind garble-gook here…and then…

I remember that meditation doesn’t mean having to sit cross-legged on the floor, with your eyes closed and with a softly-scented candle burning in a dark room. Meditation simply means training your mind to “stop” to invoke a more relaxed and peaceful state of consciousness. (Well, that’s MY definition, anyways). There are so many forms of meditation; it really can look a variety of different ways.

So here we go. The Dishwashing Meditation for you.

Place your feet on the floor and turn on the water.

Wait!

How do your feet feel on the floor? Are you wearing socks or are you barefoot? It may help to be barefoot to help ground you into the floor better. Take a moment to recognize how your feet feel touching the linoleum, hard wood, carpet (blech, I hope not in the kitchen!) It may help to use progressive relaxation techniques if you’re a newbie at this. This would mean scrunching your toes up, holding them scrunched for a few seconds, and then releasing them. You’ll notice the energy in your feet way easier this way.

Slowly place your hand under the water and feel the temperature of it. It may help to place the top of your hand under the water, as that area is more sensitive to touch than our palms are. Pay attention to how the water feels on the specific area it is hitting. Slowly rock your hand back and forth to feel the water hitting different areas.

Pick up that soiled pot and notice how your hand feels touching the handle. Place all of your attention on the sensation of grabbing the pot (or whatever you are washing) in your hands.

(Minds that are currently in the gutter can now come out. We are talking about a mindful meditation here!!!!!) 🙂

And your mind will want to chime in thousands of times during your dishwashing meditation. I simply say out loud (or in my head if I’m not alone) “Reset” when I notice my mind wanting to contribute its two cents. It helps to re-center and bring me back to my body. (If I were to say this aloud around people they would think there was a hyper-active parrot loose in the house).

And most importantly, pay attention to your breathing during your dishwashing meditation. Let you belly pooch out and let that sucker fill with air. Washing the dishes isn’t a beauty contest. You don’t need to suck in that gut while you loiter in the kitchen wearing rubber gloves! Let it all hang out, and enjoy the feeling of fully breathing. This is breathing for your health at its finest. Try to make your inhalation and exhalation the same length, and allow the air to go in and out through your nose. While you are feeling the touch of water on your hands, the sensation of stainless steel in your palms, try to also pay attention to the feeling of the air passing in and out through your nose.

At this point you’ll probably need to lovingly but firmly say “Reset! Reset! Polly wants to reset?”

Then, rinse, repeat, rinse, repeat.

You’ll notice (and if you don’t, you’ll just need more practice) a feeling of peace, relaxation, and bliss intermittently whilst scrubbing your Tupperware. Time will seem to pass by slower. Your limbs may feel warm and cozy. Your heart may feel expansive and open. You may even smile for no reason. Until your mind wants to let you know for the four-hundredth time how that woman should have not been so rude over the phone!

So you say “Reset” and bring yourself back to your body, your breath, your sensations. Joy and peace will pop up again within the silence you are creating for yourself.

Then rinse, repeat, and rinse, repeat…

Doing It Quick and Dirty

Mind-body healing is amazing. Mind-body healing has no boundaries. With the selection of skills at your fingertips, you are equipped for anything and everything. You feel as if you could fight crime with these skills.

But…are there so many skills that you don’t even know where to start, and you feel overwhelmed because you want to use all of them every day and then you end up using, well, none of them?

Rest assured, I have been there. People who end up getting a mind-body syndrome tend to share some similar qualities, one of them being perfectionism. How am I going to find time to consistently use all of these mind-body skills, while making sure to still find time to feed myself and show up at work on time? I’ve often found myself putting pressure on myself to approach mind-body healing with this one principle: all or nothing. (I tend to gravitate towards the all or nothing approach with things like exercise and eating healthy, too.) But the truth is the only thing the all or nothing approach will do is stall your entire healing process. If you are putting pressure on yourself to do it perfectly, like using the skills every hour on the hour, using a minimum of five skills per day, trying to use these skills around the clock, etc., you are missing the whole point.

And yes, I have missed the whole point more than a few hundred times. I have put pressure on myself to do it all, and if I don’t do it all, then I am just not doing enough to get to where I want to get in my mind-body journey. But when we are putting pressure on ourselves to be in mind-body healing mode 24/7, that is really what will hold us back from getting to where we want to get, whether it’s pain relief, weight loss, or building a successful business. When we are forcing ourselves to do it all, we are not being kind to ourselves. And being kind to ourselves IS the whole point.

So how can we be kind to ourselves and take all that heavy, uncomfortable pressure off while still ensuring that we are making some time to play with the mind-body tools? Well, you can get still and ask your inner guidance this question and I’m confident it will give you a brilliant answer, or you can learn what I’ve adopted, and if your body feels like the shackles that you have put on yourself have been loosened or released from your wrists, then I think we are on to something. And it is easy peasy.

So what have I done to make mind-body healing feel less overwhelming? I simply use one tool over and over and over and over and…well, you get the point. I ask myself, “what am I feeling emotionally right NOW?” and wait for the answer, and repeat it as much or as little as I want throughout the day. It literally takes five seconds, maybe ten to twenty seconds when you’re first starting. It’s quick and dirty, as Abigail Steidley likes to put it, but it creates loads of awareness on your body and emotions, which is the key to mind-body healing.

I will give you an example of how I use this quick and dirty method. While walking down the stairs one morning to get a cup of tea I asked myself what I was feeling emotionally. I took a full breath, released it, and waited to see what came up. Not even five seconds later I noticed my body felt heavy. I prodded a bit more, and asked if this heavy feeling was because I felt somewhat mad, sad, glad, or scared. Out of the four options, I felt more mad than anything. Ok, cool, I thought, as I poured tea into my mug. Now I knew that I had some anger to feel and get more information about. I stopped there for the time being. Yep, quick and dirty, but it got me to check in with my body, check in with my emotions, and get some valuable information: I had some anger in my body to feel. I told myself I would feel the anger later on in the day when I had some time to do so. Easy peasy. You’re on your way to becoming a mind-body rock star.

If you wanted to take it one step further in that moment, you could have carried on with another mind-body skill. What I love about asking myself what am I feeling emotionally, is that uncovering the emotion generally takes the guessing out of which tool to use. In the moment I felt anger, I could have simply felt the emotion. This could mean getting descriptive with how it feels, where it is, how big it is, and asking it what it would want to say if it could talk. You could stop there, or you could continue on once you uncover what it has to say. Maybe doing some thought-work would apply here, or some mind whispering, or whatever seems perfect in that moment. Letting your emotions lead your mind-body healing process tends to guide you towards the perfect skills in that moment.

The beauty of adopting a quick and dirty What Am I Feeling Emotionally Right Now method is that it is so flexible. You could ask yourself, get an answer and stop there, or you could continue on and use another tool that feels perfect in that situation and then stop there, or you could continue on from there. But it helps knowing where to start. And even if you stop early in this process (which I so often do!), like after you ask yourself what you’re feeling, it doesn’t mean you can’t pick up where you left off later in the day, or even the next day. I love this no-pressure approach because it feels more fun when I decide to go in full throttle with the mind-body skills! And being kind to yourself and having some fun while you carry on with your journey with the mind-body skills will get you to where you want to go, and that’s truly what it’s all about. 🙂