I have just about a month left before I return to work, and I've decided to try to blog every day (or at least every week day) of that month. My reasons are varied and probably not that interesting, but at the top of the list is this refrain that I've heard and repeated over and over again this year: Summer went by so fast. Where is fall going?
I want to try to keep track of what I'm doing, how I'm spending time, in hopes of slowing it down a bit. I'm also going to make use of dorky alliterative headings to help myself focus and develop ideas of what exactly to write about. Welcome to the first Mindfulness Monday.
I won't pretend to be an expert on mindfulness, or even pretend I know very much about it at all, but it's long been a somewhat squishy and amorphous goal of mine: to be more aware of what I'm doing in each moment of the day, to be more fully present, to spend less time and energy wishing for something different out of life. I'm not even sure if or how today's post fits into the realm of Mindfulness as a quasi-spiritual practice, but instinctively it feels like a mindful thing to do.
I never in my life have made my bed on a daily basis. Though my mom did make her bed, it wasn't something she expected of her children (probably falling into the realm of "pick your battles"; when it would take a snow shovel to reach the bed, whether the sheets and blankets are smoothed neatly becomes a moot point). In college, I was prone to taking naps; a made bed would only have interfered with that practice. Ditto when I had small children who napped in my bed at various times during the day. In between college and small children and now, I just never saw the point. You're going to mess it up again in a few hours anyway, so why bother? When I heard a report that found that unmade beds had lower levels of dust mites because moisture had less chance of getting trapped between the sheets, as in made meds, I felt vindicated. Take that, bed-makers!
Then this summer I was flipping through a book I had gotten for M—Cal Newport's How to Win at College—looking to see if there was any advice that might apply to regular, non-college life, and came across the suggestion to Make Your Bed Every Day. I don't remember Newport's reasons (probably something along the lines of an orderly mind in an orderly environment), and I don't remember why I suddenly decided to give this practice I'd eschewed my whole life a try, but I did. And I've kept it up.
And here's where I think it fits into mindfulness: The made bed is a small oasis of calm in my room, which is in a constant state of disarray due it being the last frontier (other than the basement, shed, and garage) in my summer project to clean, declutter, and reorganize my house. That calm oasis keeps me from feeling either overwhelmed or driven to clean when I have more pressing things to do. It also creates a clear delineation between night/sleep/rest time and morning/work/focus time. I leave it unmade (to keep out those dust mites) for a couple hours while I do my morning routine of yoga/breakfast/writing, then when I go upstairs to get dressed (one really lovely thing about not going to an office every morning is that you can get dressed at 10 a.m.), I make the bed, and signal to my brain that it's time to start the work part of the day.
I'm not suggesting anyone else try this at home. Dropping into the tangled sheets of an unmade bed for an impromptu afternoon nap is a really lovely experience, and I wouldn't deprive anyone of that for the world. But for now, a smooth, calm, made bed works for me. Once I start having to leave the house at 7 a.m., all bets are off.