Yesterday, I started a mindfulness class. It’s a free eight week course designed to be an introduction to the core techniques and is provided my the Wellbeing service where I live. I signed up back in November and got a place in January so didn’t have to wait too long. I found the class a wonderful experience and can’t wait to learn more next week.
So, what’s this mindfulness thing all about?
In brief, mindfulness is all about becoming more aware of the present moment focusing on the here and now rather than the past or the future. It’s been scientifically proven to help our mental wellbeing, as long as you practise it regularly. If you want to read more about mindfulness and the benefits, click here to be taken to current NHS information and guidance: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
In the class, we did a variety of meditations and techniques including what I shall call ‘the grape experience’. We were given one single grape each and asked to hold in our hand. We were then guided to experience it as though we had never seen a grape before using our 5 senses. So, we looked at it, from all angles, felt it (the skin, the temperature, the texture etc) smelt it (both in our hand and later in our mouths), explored it in our mouths (by rolling it around, testing it with our teeth etc) and then eventually bit into it and experienced taste and heard the sound it made as we chewed.
Now, you might be thinking, who’s got time to eat like that every day, or, alternatively, you could be questioning, quite rightly, what on earth grapes have to do with ironing. But, bear with me! Techniques like this, a simple example of mindful eating, show us how much we take for granted in our every day lives and all of the wonderful experiences we actually have and rarely savour. I, for one, am one of those people who regularly eat at the speed of lightening, whilst thinking about all of the other tasks I need to get done before my husband gets home from work.
Talking of tasks, one of today’s, which I seem to keep putting off, is the big pile of ironing currently residing in a basket in my spare room. I see it every time I go in there and my first thought ranges from ‘I really must get that ironing done soon’ to ‘arggghh, I’m such a domestic slattern’. So, thinking about what I’d learnt in yesterday’s class, I set about doing MINDFUL IRONING!!!
So, using my knowledge about mindfulness, limited so far to two hours of work and experience, here’s a summary of some of what I did in order to be more present:
- listened to the sounds of the tap filling the little reservoir in the iron and watched it fill.
- felt the different textures and temperatures of the materials which make up the ironing board and focused on the weight and strength required for the task of erecting the board on my kitchen floor.
- listened to the various popping noises and the sound of the water heating up after I plugged in and turned on the iron.
- examined the textures of the different fabrics of the clothes.
- observed the creases disappearing and the steam coming from the iron as it glided over the items
- watched, felt and sniffed the steam as it rose from the iron
- marvelled at the science behind it all!
And do you know, I actually found the experience of ironing that big pile of clothes to be calming and relaxing and I even started to enjoy myself. The items were pressed and folded carefully in no time and I reckon I might even look forward to what I consider to be a boring and time consuming chore in the future. And wouldn’t that be amazing, if every chore felt like a pleasant experience and one which didn’t fill us with dread or boredom?
I really do recommend you try this technique even if you’ve never tried mindfulness before. How about some mindful washing up or mindful showering? Let me know in the comments if you have a go and what you thought of the experience. And even if you’re feeling cynical about it, give it a try, you never know, it might just change your approach to doing chores and improve your day!
Thanks for reading, and happy ironing!