When you are writing a cook book there is one thing you do more of than anything else. It is not chopping or stirring, not heating or spooning, baking or frying. It is not plating and primping or photographing. It is not uploading pix and playing with computers. It is not scribbling notes and writing recipes. It is not typing and testing and tasting and eating. No, it is quite simply washing up! When you are writing a cook book you do an inordinate amount of washing up. Bowls, pots, dishes, baking trays, knives, forks, spoons and of course the food processor, the mixer and the whisk. Everything again and again requires the washing up.
Before I would grind my teeth and kind of resent this bit. The chore, the drudge. But you know, something is different this time. I have learned something last year in the year from hell. During that time I tried so many ways to escape my torment, my sadness, my mind churning, heart racing constant anxiety and worry. I tried all the tapes, the books, the gurus over the past few years, you will even recall the mindfulness group I attended a while back. I pretty much did everything including the meds and the talking and the woohoo and the downright odd.
I couldn’t get my head round the whole meditation bit, the calmness eluded me and the mad monkeys crowded in, that band of merry monsters who will do anything to stop that meditative state. They will dance, cavort and juggle with thoughts that range from what to make for supper, the state of the European economic climate, where is Berti’s flea collar and why can’t I lose half a stone, to Ewan McGregor’s dreamy voice and why Melanie Campbell was such a bitch to me in school all of thirty years ago.
Apparently I am not alone in this boat, thank God. There are a great many of us normal women who just can’t seem to go the whole sit down , switch off and light a candle route, no matter how hard we try. And that dear reader is the whole point. We ‘try’ too hard. Think about it, we were brought up as women to be doers, carers, copers, tryers and makers. The thought of sitting still and emptying the mind seems to go against everything we were ever taught to think. It seems slothful and downright selfish, and heaven forbid we women should never be like that. We must be constantly doing or at least thinking of doing something worthy and useful at all times.
There is also the other side of the coin that says when we do want to chill out it is a damn sight easier to do so while slumped in front of the telly armed with a large chardonnay and lost in Soapland. We don’t really want to open our minds in case the Mad Monkeys stage a rebellion and carry us off to Oz.
From this you will have deduced that I am not the meditative type and don’t wear white, and if I did get into the lotus position with my dodgy knees I’d be lucky if I ever got out of it again. I was a fully paid up card carrying member of the Don’t Have Time, Not For Me, Stressed To The Max Club.
Cleaning And Meditation
But recently things have changed a bit. A strange thing happened at the kitchen. There I was with hands immersed in hot soapy bubbles I lost myself completely in pattern, texture and warmth. I found myself calming down and breathing slowly. The simple repetitive task of gently soaping the dishes and rinsing them under the tap had me almost in a trance. This was time out of mind, slowing down and easing off.
But wait, I was doing housework for God’s sake, I couldn’t possibly be meditating. Where were those crisp white linen trousers, perfectly smooth hair and the lotus position? They weren’t there, they weren’t actually needed.
I realized for the first time that I could actually do this meditation stuff and give myself the priceless gift of peace in another way. I could do it through the simple mundane tasks I do every day. The little things that keep the life blood of my home going. I could put myself into this meditative space while accomplishing the tasks that had to be done around the house and what’s more, enjoy it! I could actually turn those chores into momentary mindfulness.
I had never been able to really get to grips with the whole concept of mindfulness. All that crap about listening to the sounds of a raisen just left me cold. As far as I was concerned mindfulness just wasn’t for me, it was right up there with meditation as a good way to invite in the Mad Monkeys and just ask for trouble.
Now at last I could actually understand what this mindfulness stuff was about. I was washing the dishes etc and just being. I was losing myself in the moment, really seeing the cups and plates, feeling the warmth of the water and the bubbles popping on my skin. Smelling the soap, seeing those iridescent colours within the bubbles. It was all right there for me in my own kitchen! I wasn’t ‘trying’ to do anything, that had always been my problem, I was always trying too damn hard, after all God does love a tryer doesn’t he.
So this is where my zen comes in. My peaceful state is unleashed by the soothing forms of keeping house within my own Comfort Zone. This is a kind of introduction in a way to the new look site and to the word Homing instead of Home Crafts in the categories. You see Homing is my new word. It is doing the everyday stuff that makes a house a home and taking it from chore and mundanity to blooming into small pleasures and almost an art form in its own right. What was once resented as the lowest of jobs and a waste of time, can actually be essential and enjoyable – this is the fine art of Homing, cleaning and meditation.
So tell me, think about this one girls, what do you do around the house that you can really lose yourself in? If nothing comes to mind then give it a go. Let go when you are doing something house worky, really get into doing it and see how it feels.
Tell me what you think. Meanwhile I’d better get those dishes washed and head for the Aga again………