You might think I’m using a metaphor when I say that my spiritual practice is doing the laundry. Metaphor or not, laundry is the practice of seeing things as they are. Take a look at how to go from the hamper to happiness in eight steps.
Empty the hamper – Laundry gives us an honest encounter with ourselves before we’re freshened, fluffed and sanitized. It gives us a mirror to the parts of ourselves we’d rather overlook, and makes us take responsibility for our own messes. Self-examination reveals the pure wisdom that resides within each of us.
The instructions are in your hands – The tag inside a garment tells you exactly how to care for what you hold in your hands. Not just clothing, but very bit of life comes with instructions when we are attentive enough to notice. Doing it well may take more work than we’d like, but the effort is always worth it in the long run.
Handle with care – It’s inevitable: everything shrinks, fades and falls apart. Nothing stays brand-new. The most precious things we have are fashioned of flimsy fabric. Be mindful with each moment you have and you will experience your life in a different way.
Treat upsets immediately – Tomato sauce sets. Coffee stains. Ink is indelible. In laundry as in life, resolve upsets immediately before the residue of resentment sets in. When they’re not treated quickly, everyday messes can worsen into a lifetime of regret.
Don’t swallow the soap – There are no whiter whites or brighter colors, no matter what the detergent promises. Nearly all of our problems stem from the stubborn view that what we are and what we have is not good enough. We wear our insufficiency like a permanent stain, and that’s why everything we keep buying is some kind of soap. Don’t swallow it! When we release ourselves from judgment, we free everyone else from our criticism and blame. Plus we can save money on cheaper brands.
Let the spin cycle stop – Most of us spin the same anxious thoughts, fears, and worries in our head over and over, creating needless suffering for ourselves and everyone around us. Only when we let the spin cycle come to a rest, quieting our churning minds, can we lift the lid and find the load inside rinsed completely clear. Then, we can move forward into the fresh breeze of daylight.
The treasure lies within – Like the wad of bills left in a pants pocket, or the spare change that turns up in the bottom of the dryer, there’s a treasure to be found where you’d least expect it: inside. Stick your head in and have a good look.
Every day is laundry day – Every day brings the chance to slow down, pay attention, take care and engage intimately with the fabric of your own life. Sort the light from the dark, the delicate from the indestructible, and the heavy duty from the hand wash cold. The very thing you think you’re missing – happiness – is found every time you reach the bottom.