This week’s exercise was to “leave no trace”: when you’re done using a room in the house, clean it up so that there is no trace that you have been there.
This exercise was a little bit harder for me. The kitchen would have been nearly impossible. Every time I open the dishwasher Adeline comes racing over from wherever she is and starts pulling out plates and knives and trying to climb inside. Same goes for opening cabinets or drawers. So, needless to say, cleaning the kitchen is somewhat of a process. So to make it a little easier on myself I chose the family room. Every time I left the room I tried to pick up – straighten the couch cushions, fold the blankets, etc.
One of the lessons that Jan draws from this exercise is the way that a clean space helps us feel more at ease in our mind. As a mess builds up it annoys us because it’s messy and we know we’ll have to clean it, but it also makes our whole inner life seem a little bit messier and more difficult to deal with. I have definitely noticed in the past that I feel better when I get the house cleaned up. And when I’m upset about something just the act of cleaning up can make me feel better. This exercise shows how connected we are not only to the people around us, but to the things and the places as well.
The other thing I noticed this week was my tendency to narrate. Even while intentionally doing a mindfulness exercise, I often begin to narrate my actions or even plan for what I will say about them when I’m done. This was a continuing problem for me in my previous mindfulness group. My teacher told me that I was one step closer to mindfulness, but still miles away. At least my mind wasn’t who knows where, thinking about what happened last week or things I needed to get done later that day. But to narrate your mindfulness is not to be mindful. I definitely need to work on that.
And now for this week’s exercise:
“Filler Words: Become aware of the use of ‘filler’ words and phrases and try to eliminate them from your speech.”