Coping Strategies

Cleaning As Meditation

Sometimes sad, is just sad. And I don’t know why I was so sad yesterday, but I was. I laid on the couch with the dogs. All day. I couldn’t nap – I have a hard time falling asleep during the day. I guess that’s okay. Finally, as the afternoon began a slow expiration, something changed, and I felt like I could get off of the couch, so I did. I took the dogs on a long walk. If I take them to the office building complex near my house, I  can let the big dog off the leash and let her taste some freedom.

When we got back, I had just enough energy to do what I felt needed to be done: Clean the house. I have a hard time thinking about anything else when the house is messy. Sometimes it’s procrastination – sometimes it’s removal of distraction – but as long as it promotes progress and doesn’t obstruct it, I always clean the house as a first step toward putting my world in order.

And maybe that’s what I needed yesterday – to set my world in order. When nothing else is controllable, sometimes the reassurance that you can place everything where you want it to be is the only cure for uncertainty.

To be perfectly honest, things have been a little busy around the house the past couple of weeks, so things were pretty gross – I cleaned deeply.

I’m still a bit low today, but at least I feel like I can focus on my mental work, and the pieces of my work that involve having to deal with other humans, because I’m not wasting energy worrying about the state of my physical environment.

In a way, it’s a form of meditation. On a day like yesterday, though I wasn’t in love with the idea of cleaning, I respected the sanity and the order that it had to offer. I pulled myself back to it over, and over, climbing into its inherent structure, curling around the tasks at hand, banishing all other thoughts. Soothing, and relieving myself, with the repetition of actions. Focusing my mind on that repetition, and nothing much else. Angsty thoughts swelled occasionally to the surface of my thinking, and I channeled them into the sink and down the drain. You can’t always just tell thoughts like that to go away. But you can direct them. And you can use the energy that they contain to cultivate other things.

And then, when I was done with the rest of the house, I changed the sheets on my bed, and climbed in. Darkness reassures me in so many ways. I have always been more able to think clearly at night. Though I have a hard time getting to sleep, it is easier to sleep in darkness, than in light.

Sometimes the seeking of peace requires tolerance of its opposition.


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