My intention, as a mother, is to be a centered, nurturing, compassionate, peaceful figure in my child’s life. But with motherhood comes many responsibilities which compete for resources I need to nourish my own spirit in a way that allows me to even come close to this ideal. So I’ve learned to transform the mundane into the sublime as a way of stretching resources and giving myself what I need while taking care of my family.
Hanging laundry on a clothesline has the potential to be a spiritual experience. More than one person has shared my view that there is a simple beauty in seeing articles of freshly washed clothing flapping in the breeze that transcends the physical reality of this simple chore. Perhaps it reminds us of the prayer flags that are hung with intention by Tibetan monks. Perhaps it is just the universal energy of a potentially mindful act that women have done for centuries and that will not be completed in our lifetimes. Mothers know that there will always be more laundry.
Regardless of whether you have recognized the spiritual significance of hanging laundry before, we can escape the trap of seeing our laundry as only a chore and use it as an opportunity to be mindful and connected. In doing so, we create a sacred moment in the midst of our everyday lives as mothers.
I often use the opportunity to meditate, pray for individuals, or gather chi. I will share three exercises that I hope will inspire you to experience more mindfulness in your everyday as you hang laundry.
Each pin is a breath. My mind is relaxed and observant, but I am not focused on anything.
I take my time and pay attention to the task at hand, mindfully hanging each item as if it were precious cloth.
If a thought enters my mind, I hang it on the line with an article of clothing and move on to the next.
There is nothing that needs to be attended to besides hanging the next article of clothing on the line. (That said, if I am interrupted by a child who needs my attention, its okay to leave the task and come back after that need has been met.)
If you see a beautiful butterfly or hear a bird’s song, smile and feel grateful.
Even a few mindful breaths benefit us all.
After a period of breathing meditation, I might choose to intentionally pray for people who need my prayers.
More often, I use a mantra. Any mantra that resonates with you is perfect. I often use “love and gratitude” and coordinate saying the words with my breath and clipping a clothespin. I can hold the image of someone in my mind while I do this and direct the universal energy of love and gratitude towards that person. If the person needs healing, I might use the mantra “love, gratitude, and healing” to direct these needed energies to the person.
Because we are often bending over and stretching when we hang our laundry, it is a perfect opportunity to gather chi from earth and heavens.
While doing this exercise, it is important to focus on breathing fully into your abdomen.
You can coordinate your bending and stretching with exhaling and inhaling and pausing for a breath or two in each position.
Hold the intention in your mind that when you bend over to pick up an article of clothing to hang, while exhaling, you are gathering chi from the earth through the soles of your feet, the palms of your hands, your tailbone, and the crown of your head.
When you reach up after hanging the article of clothing, envision the chi coming down from the heavens and entering your body through the crown of your head, and your palms.
In this way, you are balancing the universal chi that surrounds you and fills you.
These are just a few ways that I have used the chore of hanging laundry on the clothesline as an opportunity for mindfulness and connectedness. Use them as an inspiration for your own clothesline meditation practice. I hope hanging laundry will never be the same for you again.
Elizabeth Sterling is a mama who likes to play with blocks, words, pixels and considers hanging laundry and weeding as sacred acts. She shares her love of all things handmade, homemade and homegrown on her blog so wabi sabi and connects with others more deeply on threading light.