Miracles in the Mundane: How Cleaning Your Bathroom Can Be a Spiritual Experience
This morning, as I was cleaning the bathroom, I was reminded that cultivating our spiritual health does not always require spiritually-dedicated activities like prayer or meditation, nor extraordinary experiences like going on a pilgrimage or attending a week-long silent retreat. Rather, with awareness and a simple change in our mindset, any mundane activity can be spiritual—even cleaning the toilet!
When I first started to clean this morning, I was feeling a bit grumbly and obligated. My husband, Levi, and I share the cleaning in our apartment fairly equally (okay, full disclosure, he cleans more because he’s amazing), but Levi has been super busy with work recently and our weekend was packed, so we didn’t get to do the deep clean of the apartment that we had been planning. Thus my initial mindset this morning: “Ugh, I should just do this and get it over with.”
But then, as I started to clean, my mindset shifted. I was reminded of my sister-in-law who sees every part of her role as a stay-at-home wife and mother of three young boys as carrying out God’s Will and doing His Work. Cleaning, for her, seems to embody Transcendent Connectedness–one of the four relationships in which we cultivate spiritual health–and although I don’t share her traditional Christian beliefs, I admire her spiritual dedication.
Thinking of this, I felt inspired by the idea that any mundane task can be spiritually fulfilling with a change of mind. I was reminded of the spiritual text, A Course in Miracles (ACIM), which defines a miracle as a “change in the way of our thinking,” and further states that any change of mind, no matter how small, is a miracle. Could it be that looking more positively at wiping soap scum off the shower tiles could in fact be a miracle? According to ACIM, it is.
So, I decided to let my mindset change, and honestly, the effect really did feel like a miracle. As soon as I was willing to see things differently, it became easy to relinquish my annoyance that cleaning is part of life.
As the annoyance melted away, I found myself leaning into gratitude: Levi and I have a nice apartment with a nice (enough) bathroom; we have clean water, soap, and shampoo; I have time to clean today; and I have an able body with which to do it.
Next, I started to think about how cleaning can be a way of connecting with my environment–another of the four spiritual health relationships. Not only was I cultivating Connectedness with my home environment by treating it with dignity and keeping it clean, I was also using cleaning products that are more environmentally friendly (thanks, Grove Collaborative!).
Furthermore, I was fostering Personal Connectedness and honoring my self-worth by providing a clean home with a clean bathroom in which to care for my body.
And finally, I realized that cleaning can also cultivate Community Connectedness with my partner. I knew Levi didn’t expect it of me, but I also knew how happy he would be to come home to a clean apartment, and what a gift it is to provide a clean home to someone you love, especially when that someone
is stressed and overworked.
By the time I finished thinking about all of this, I realized that the bathroom was clean, and moreover, that I felt weirdly spiritually fulfilled. It turns out awareness and willingness to change our minds can be powerful spiritual health tools. They must be, for what else could make the most mundane of mundane tasks like cleaning the bathroom into something sacred?
Thankfully, I’m not alone in recognizing the mundane can become spiritual. Duke professor, Dr. Omid Safi, wrote an article for the spiritual podcast and website, On Being, about embracing the ordinary as spiritual. In addition, Dr. James R. Averillin shares in a peer-reviewed printing of a keynote address about a case study in which a young woman had the most profound spiritual experience of her life while cleaning the bathtub.
Consequently, I invite you to similarly embrace awareness and be willing to see mundane tasks from a spiritual perspective. Think about which task in your life you most begrudge, then allow yourself to see it differently: embrace awareness, cultivate Connectedness, and let the miracles unfold.
If you try, I’d love to hear how it works in your life!
Happy embracing the miracles of the mundane,
P.S., Interested in using more earth-friendly cleaning products in your home? Levi and I really like Grove Collaborative, which has a wide selection of popular natural brands (like Seventh Generation) and delivers straight to your door once a month (or whenever you choose). This isn’t a sponsored post, but full disclosure, if you use this link to signup, you’ll get a discount and I’ll get $10, which I will totally use because I. Love. Grove Collaborative.