Today, I was hanging three loads of laundry on my dervish (that’s what I call my outdoor laundry tree-thingy). It’s Mother’s Day but the deed had to be done. Although we have conquered space travel and AI, auto-pilot laundry still eludes our greatest minds.
Jessica Northey‘s wonderful post about meditation inspired me to think about what I was thinking, in that moment. My friend writes, “Bombarded by thousands of different forms of distractions, you can easily lose sight of what’s really important.”
I’m environmentally friendly but I hate hanging laundry. Futzing around with little socks and big sheets makes me crazy. As I was loading the dervish, I was becoming more frustrated and irritated. My mind was “bombarded” with all of the other things I could be doing.
Then, I had an epiphany (cue the music)
Regardless of how irritated I was, the laundry would not hang itself. I had to do it, in that moment. What was really important was drying those clothes. (If you leave them in the basket, they get all ooky – then you have to wash them again. Self defeating.) Not feasibly accomplished from the hammock.
Quantum mechanics aside, no one can be in two places at once. Many of life’s undertakings require our physical presence and attention. So I settled, mindfully, into the task at hand. Once I consciously decided to do this, my mind opened up …
Meditation – distilled – can happen at any time. It’s about focusing; deliberation on a moment. It doesn’t have to involve a mantra, babbling fountains, or pillows. It can the simple act of concentrating on one thing, in one moment. Eradicating distractions is difficult but possible. Sometimes, you have to take a deep breath, relax, and accept that ‘this thing’ is all that you can be doing ‘right now’.
Mediation is also a necessary part of our day-to-day lives. At times, the luxury of focusing on a single task isn’t possible; we have to attend to many responsibilities and accountabilities. The trick here is prioritizing. By setting priorities and mediating between tasks, stuff actually gets done. As long as it doesn’t turn into …
Marauding! This is when we allow the barrage of thoughts and fears and doubts paralyze us from actually getting anything done. Hanging laundry but your mind fills with invoicing that hasn’t been done, taxes not filed, phone calls and emails not returned, Twitter and Facebook feeds not checked (egads!), presentations not prepared, oil not changed, bills not paid, books not read … (yeah. I know. You get it.) Nothing good can come from marauding. Frustration, self-doubt, procrastination – these are marauding rewards.
Instead, reward yourself with compassion, understanding, and mindfulness. When you focus, there is always enough time to get done what needs to be done.
So, tell me. What helps you focus on your ‘to-do’s?