May 10

I found inner peace whilst doing the dishes.

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Yep, I found inner peace whilst doing the dishes.

So you may think that I’ve gone loco from being in Mexico for too long. The heat! The guacamole! The beans! Surely something had to give sooner or later. Maybe. But hear me out, my latest epiphany has been a great one.

How to have a clean and orderly house (and hence a peaceful and quiet mind)

  1. Have only what you need.
  2. Have only things that you believe to be beautiful, that you love to use and see.

I’ve always wondered why a clean home makes me feel good. Actually I haven’t so much wondered this as I have wondered how I could possibly allow my home to get messy when I know how good it feels to have it clean. Doesn’t this sound familiar? How often do we allow our lives to get to a point where we know we aren’t happy? Wouldn’t we all feel better if we only ate nourishing and simple foods? Wouldn’t we all feel better with less computer time and more  exercise time? Of course we would. But somehow what’s best for us isn’t always what we do.

I’ve always assumed that I would hire someone to clean for me. Not in a rich snobby way, but in a practical ‘my time is worth more than this’ kinda of way. (On second thoughts, maybe that is a snobby way). Growing up, we had a lady who came once a week for a while to give the place a good clean. Mum would usually ‘pre-clean’ before she arrived, which I never understood. Here in Mexico there is a cleaner who comes every second day. At first this was amazing. We could be as MESSY as we liked and it would always be cleaned up within a day. Why wash your dish when you can just grab another one from the cupboard?

This mindset started revealing how unhealthy it was when our plans would backfire – the cleaners here are mega cheap and you get what you pay for. Some days she just wouldn’t show up. So one day of living in filth would turn into 3 days. Not so great. Not so healthy.

You would think that by having someone come and clean for us, we would feel freed up to do other things. Sure we were, but how were we developing as people? Strutting around, confident that someone else would clean up after us, leaving dirty dishes in the sink, letting food rot in the fridge, leaving clothes on the floor, beds unmade – this is not the kind of people we wanted to be!

We want to be considerate people. Considerate of our impact and conscious of each action. If we drop something? Pick it up. If we eat off something? Wash it and put it away. If we take something off? Hang it up.

These are the actions that are coherent with the kind of life we want to lead. We had considered being mindful eaters, being present in our conversations and relationships, making sure to move and stretch our bodies daily – but what about being mindful inhabitants? It was like the missing piece of the puzzle, the ultimate ‘d’uh’ moment.

So as I was washing my dish, feeling the warm water run over my hands and knowing that I wasn’t leaving any trace of my actions for someone else to clean up, I felt present. I felt relaxed. I felt strong. It felt like yoga, in a very simple way:

Unite your body with your breath in any shape your body can make. This is yoga. Be mindful of your thoughts. Be forgiving of yourself and others. Honor your intentions. If your intent is yoga, if you FEEL yoga, if you breathe yoga… it IS yoga. From here.

If we don’t have a house filled with stuff and if we take care of the things we do have and if we see our experience with these things as journeys that need to be completed, then we don’t need a daily cleaner.

Having a cleaner in our house has made me feel less connected than ever and it’s been an amazing discovery and lesson for me in my journey to live a mindful, simple and peaceful life. I want to teach Mika these things by leading by example. I want her to see me taking care of what I have and being respectful of the space we live in. I hope that she sees how much her papa and I love washing our dishes together after dinner – seeing it as a time to talk and relax and complete our meal.

This has been a very long post, but it has been something on my mind a lot lately and I wanted to share it. If you have any thoughts about it, I’d love to hear :)

[images found here, here and here.]

  • Natalia

    We used to have a cleaner (once upon a time), and my parents would also ‘pre-clean.’ I guess it has something to do with not wanting to be judged?? 😛 

    Really liked this post, and it’s v true – we had someone stay with us who was brought up having a maid… she was a perfectly nice girl, but had NO concept of cleaning up after herself. I don’t think it was a conscious thing either – but she had never had to think about it before. There was this disconnect, and complete lack of consideration for the people (i.e. my parents, me) who would then have to clean up after her. That’s not to say that I think everyone brought up having cleaners/maids has the same attitude, but I do think it allows for a certain disconnect, like you said. A little fact: I always clean the house when Im stressed or anxious… I have this thought like, “my brain might be messy right now [with emotion], so at least the house has to be tidy!”… ‘Clean house, clean mind’ :)

    • Pamela Minett

      Yeah I’m the same with the cleaning – it always seems to be the best thing to do in any stressful situation.  Like as if clearing the physical clutter will clear the mental clutter. It seems to work I think too!