8 steps to happy laundering

July 3rd, 2016

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.

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  1. A delightful read, and a wonderful way to start the week….

    Comment by Jill D. — February 22, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

  2. I can’t wait to read more of your insights in your new book.

    Comment by Swirly — February 22, 2010 @ 4:20 pm

  3. Lovely piece! Am enjoying your book, MommaZen. I love where your writing takes me; back home, to what is right here right now. Perfect practice. Thank you!

    Comment by Lorna — February 22, 2010 @ 5:27 pm

  4. I think I have been looking for a Fluff and Fold service for my life instead of doing the wash myself. Thank you for the beautiful and timely reminder!

    Comment by Tracie — February 22, 2010 @ 6:20 pm

  5. Just like me, Tracie. So just like me! Except I only looked for half my life. Now, no one can take the laundry away from me. I know a good thing when I see it. Happy to see you.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — February 22, 2010 @ 6:24 pm

  6. I love this post; a metaphor for life and finding peace. I must admit that ironing has become one of my favourite domestic chores over the last couple of years; I love the way I can steam clean my pores while smoothing out the creases in my life! I always feel a lovely sense of satisfaction seeing a pile of freshly ironed clothing. Of course there are lots of items that I simply fold and put away…but I am grateful for the ritual. I’ll apply your insights to my entire laundry routine now 🙂 Thank you.

    Comment by kathleen — February 22, 2010 @ 11:00 pm

  7. Thanks for helping me hang the line today.

    Comment by Jena — February 23, 2010 @ 2:50 am

  8. So… how do I make the spin cycle stop?

    Comment by Val — February 23, 2010 @ 6:21 am

  9. To make the spin cycle stop, sit down and meditate. Follow the link for directions.

    Comment by Karen Maezen Miller — February 23, 2010 @ 6:27 am

  10. i am so delighted that i discovered your blog…there are so many out there but yours is a divine spot in my day. thank you for sharing your wisdom and reminding me to breathe. recently i’ve been giving thanks when i do our laundry…thanks for the washing machine that works, for the bodies & souls that wore the clothes, the dryer that dries and the money to make it all operate.

    Comment by denise — February 23, 2010 @ 4:11 pm

  11. Stopping over on a recommendation by A Design so Vast. Really enjoyed this post and I’m look forward to exploring your blog a little.

    For the moment, I wanted to say that your description for “Let the spin cycle” stop is very appropriate for me right now. What an absolutely fantastic way to be reminded of reality. I am so guilty of spinning the same thoughts over and over in my mind until they get out of control. I like this, it’s a bit of wake-up call. Thank you.

    Comment by Christine LaRocque — February 24, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

  12. I just learned about your work through a wonderful article on mindful housekeeping by Amy Maclin. I enjoyed the article so much, in fact, that I pre-ordered your book AND subscribed to Body & Soul magazine. Also posted a blurb about the article on my blog. I look forward to your book. Thanks for validating my feelings about housekeeping, too.

    Comment by Cindy L — March 20, 2010 @ 11:59 am

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