Zen of Mindful Window Cleaning

(and other Chores)


Feel the cloth in your hand, the texture on your skin. Observe the dirt as you wipe it of the glass. Listen to the sound of the cloth on the window. Wipe, wipe, squeak, squeak. See the light flooding through the window, shining on the windowsill, the frame. Dirt begone, make my window clear again.

One of the mindfulness exercises is to engage the observing you as you do a task you have been putting off. The idea being to strengthen your ability to engage in something mindfully and maybe find the task easier and less hateful in the process. I haven’t cleaned my windows in maybe more than a year. So I’m cleaning my windows mindfully and I don’t mind.

And when the thought ‘When I’m cleaning winders’ comes to mind I’m to observe the thought, thank my mind for it and carry on observing the cleaning of the windows. The same for other distracting thoughts.

You are supposed to do the chore for 20 minutes or as long as you are into it and then come back to it another day. On this occasion I have done a bit, written in this blog about it, done some more, then written more here, taken a photo for this bog etc etc… Not sure if writing and not doing is good.

Previously the task I had been putting of was shredding. My shedding box was stuffed with unshredded items, I had much more than 5 years of bills clogging up my files so I set to shredding mindfully.

I focus on the feel of the paper and the sound as it folds, watching the paper disappear into the machine. I listen to the sound of the shredder, what a horrible sound. High pitched and mechanical whirring. Not very zen. I can’t help hating and judging the sound. I could only stand it so long before my mind fills with a chorus ‘F**k you shredder, you can suck my…’ fills my thoughts. Like the thunder song from the film/move ‘Ted’. Only I don’t have a shredding buddy.

I could only tolerate mindful shredding for short bursts. I did it all but it took a few days. I’m not sure applying mindfulness to the task of shredding makes it more enjoyable but I did get it done and it hopefully increased my access to my observing self.

I applied this to the weekly chore of ironing as well with more success. Listening to the sound of the steam and the fabric under the iron. Feeling the cloth. Watching the light on the fabric and the iron smooths it. This is maybe more useful but I may go back to watching TV or listening to music while I iron.

These techniques I’m sure do exercise the observing self and mindfulness but I’m not sure how much they make chores more tolerable. Making it an exercise did get me to do some long put off tasks so that was good. Worth trying out.