Zen and the S%$! You Hate Doing


I f#$%&!# hate laundry.

Please — excuse my expletive, but let me repeat myself: I f#$%&!# hate laundry. Let’s put it this way: It’s all-together miraculous if I can get my butt to the laundry room, put in a load of laundry, remove it when done to throw it in the dryer before the mildew sets in (which happens, oh, 50% of the time) and then promptly take the clothes out of the dryer for folding (folding — my nemesis), and get it all done in one pop.

This gets extra complicated when the “environmentalist-hippie” and the “money-conscious-budget-mom” in me scolds the “but-this-is-so-much-easier” me and demands I go hang the clothes on the clotheslines instead of doing the whole dryer thing.

I know what you’re thinking — this isn’t really that big of a deal and there are far more complicated endeavors (like trying to fold a fitted sheet or do your own taxes), but I f#$%&!# hate doing the laundry. Yes, hate is a strong word but, hey, the seemingly simple task of laundry-doing gets even trickier when your job description includes constant contact with sweat (personal training, anyone?) and your two kiddos are dirtying a new outfit every 15.5 seconds (please, for the love of God tell me that’s chocolate…) and the laundry load appears to be an ever-growing monstrosity.

So, where am I going with this? This nice little story is leading me here: how the hell can we be Zen while doing the things we f#$%&!# hate doing?

I would argue that in fact the best times to practice our “zen” is while doing the s%#$ we hate doing and let’s be real: life will always be asking that (sometimes) we do stuff we just don’t wanna do, so best to find a good ol’ “ommmm” while we do.

Here’s what I’ve tried to practice while I do the [annoyed grumble] laundry:

1. There will inevitably be a voice in the brain that wants to unendingly complain from start to finish. Instead of humoring only this train of thought, I give the voice a nod and some mad respect (dang this DOES kinda suck), and then turn my attention elsewhere.

2. When I turn the attention elsewhere deliberately, I’ll do a “sense” meditation — what smells are present? Oh my god that wasn’t chocolate. What can be felt? What can be heard? How does the fabric feel in my hands? How does the laundry soap smell? This creates a new possibility: I don’t just have to bitch and moan — I can enjoy and engage the senses, too.

3. I become the laundry. No, this isn’t just some woo-woo spiritual hype — it is totally possible to become “one” with what you’re doing even if you don’t dig it. This means being fully present with each step, engaging the senses, noticing the boundary-less-ness of me and the activity at hand. This takes practice, dude, particularly if you f#$%&!# hate laundry.

4. Mindfulness and breath. You knew one or both of those words were coming, didn’t you? You’re onto me. Give the effing laundry or (insert sucky task here) your full attention, breathe deeply while you do, and just be with it. It’ll be over soon.

Boy oh boy — the laundry and me may never be besties that frolic off into the sunset together to drink margaritas by the beach, but I can certainly do each task mindfully, with a little bit of lightness-of-being, and with the presence required to get ‘er done and get ‘er done well.

Don’t take my word for any of this. I double-dog-dare ya to employ some good ol’ Zen in your day-to-day task list and you might find that things you really, really, really don’t like doing become, well, kinda sorta okay.

Good luck