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Cleaning Now: How Dirty Dishes Can Help You Arrive at a Clear Mind

Cleaning Now: How Dirty Dishes Can Help You Arrive at a Clear Mind

Cleaning – let’s face it. This is something that most of us dread doing. Whether it’s doing the dishes, washing the car, sweeping the floor, or making the bed – we all spend a good chunk of our day doing it.


So how can you take away the stress of cleaning? Here’s one strategy. Just stop doing it. See what happens when you leave your dishes in the sink for days, when you never sweep your floor, or when you stop doing laundry.


I can actually save you the experiment. I tried this with my college roommate when I was 22. We didn’t clean our apartment for months. And the outcome was completely disgusting. Our place started to smell, people stopped visiting, and we both got sick all the time.


So today we’re going to give you a better strategy. It still involves cleaning but changes the way you do it. We call it cleaning now.


Here’s the basic idea. The experience of cleaning is shaped not by the activity but our thoughts about the activity. When we feel irritated, resentful, or annoyed by it, cleaning feels stressful. It’s something that we hate doing.


So here’s a simple way to change the way you clean. Use cleaning as a trigger to shift your attention to the present moment. Each day, pick one cleaning activity as your trigger. It could be clearing the table, brushing your teeth, or raking leaves.


Then when you do it, focus your attention on sound and sensation. Take washing dishes as an example. When you’re at the sink, catch yourself each time your mind gets lost in thought and then bring your attention to the sound and sensation of washing dishes. Imagine this is the first time you ever washed a dish. Feel the smooth texture of each plate. Listen to the sound the water makes as it falls from the faucet.


This may seem like it’s so simple that it couldn’t possibly benefit your life. But the science is clear – by simply bringing your attention into the present moment, you dissolve stress, build focus, and increase your overall happiness.


Cleaning Now – this is a practice that is similar to the master practices of Life Cross Training. In our book Start Here and free 4-week e-course on mindfulness, we offer an entire system for training wellbeing. To learn more, visit our website