Mindfulness comes quietly when I relax into it, stop working at it, striving for it, trying to make it happen.
I’m not sure, but I think I found mindfulness in the guts of my vacuum cleaner.
I am an introvert. I spend a great deal of my time in solitude. This is not just a preference, but an absolute need in the way I live my life. Being alone recharges me; being around others drains me.
While sometimes misunderstood because of this, I’ve become quite comfortable in the lifestyle I’ve chosen and created. It allows me to be with myself in ways and amounts that nourish my spirit so that, when I am in the midst of others I am not completely depleted.
I knew ahead of time that my daughter, who usually is with her dad on Saturdays and Sundays, would be staying home with me this weekend. Normally, the two days and nights were my private, restorative time to be alone or with others, quiet or active as I choose, entirely in my own timing and with no obligations to anyone.
When I found out she would be home and I’d not get my personal time, I prepared for it by creating a little bit of advance space for rejuvenation in solitude. Friday daytime while she was at school was to be my personal time for this.
My time for solitude and self-care
Friday morning, I took her to school and eagerly returned to my little home. First, sitting here alone, then trying things I knew – journalling, music, sitting practice, shower – to take advantage of the day in solitude before I’d have to have my mom-eyes on for the weekend.
Seven full hours of solitude and self-care!
One after the other, I went from idea to idea, finding very little comfort in each. Sadly, nothing was working. I needed to care for myself within a certain time frame, and I was relying on conventional ideas for self-care. Everything I tried felt forced, pressured. Hurry up and relax.
The familiar things that usually nourish my spirit only frustrated me when they didn’t work. They added to my growing sense of failure and weariness, knowing I’d have no time later to restore my energy.
I watched the clock ticking down the hours, but felt no more soothed than when I’d started. I had visions of Monday rolling around and being so stressed and overloaded I’d be ready to rip somebody’s head off.
Never mind. I’ll do self-care another time.
Finally around 4pm, I decided: to hell with this, self-care is making me feel worse. I have just over one hour before I have to pick my daughter up. I might as well do my dusting and fix the vacuum cleaner like I’ve been meaning to.
Within a few minutes, my living room floor was wall-to-wall vacuum cleaner parts and tools. I immersed myself in getting the little machine going again. Taking each piece off, repairing what was needed, cleaning it all up and getting it running again.
If I take off that belt, this little piece under it can be cleaned up. Wait, this piece over here is busted off. How can I fix it? Do I even need to? Where’s my mini flathead screwdriver?
Before I knew it, my hour timer sounded to let me know it was time to go get my daughter.
As I cleaned up all the parts and put the vacuum back together, it occurred to me that I felt surprisingly refreshed and nourished. In hindsight, I realized that, while on the floor focused on the task in front of me, time had disappeared and my entire attention was in the moment.
What eluded me all day came naturally when I relaxed into it, stopped working at it, striving for it, trying to make it happen. Mindfulness came quietly, unnoticed until it had gone.
I felt completely refreshed and ready for time with my daughter and some friends on the weekend.
How cool is that?