You may be wondering what black granite counters have to do with mindfulness? Stay with me for a moment and it will become apparent. I’ll admit that I can be a bit obsessed with cleaning – especially kitchens. I think it comes from my Italian-American mother who absolutely believed that “cleanliness was next to Godliness” or whatever that saying is. You could eat off of her kitchen floors. While I make no claims to the sanitary condition of my kitchen floors, I do like my kitchen to sparkle and shine – especially the counters.
Cleanliness and Joy in Your Kitchen
I recently purchased a home with a lovely open kitchen, perfect for cooking, gathering and eating – all of the qualities that make a kitchen the heart of the home. The cabinets are bright white and the counters are gleaming, solid black granite – a striking contrast! You may be wondering why I struggle with this as it certainly sounds like a lovely kitchen. But here is the challenge for me – I find joy in the counters when they are clean and shiny – without dirt, streaks or imperfections.
Now in a busy and bustling kitchen, the counters are rarely that, especially in the middle of an evening of cooking. And even in the midst of a fun evening of food preparation with family and friends, I often find myself distracted by the “less than perfect” condition of the counters and I scurry to wipe them off frequently.
However, upon reflection, I realized that my reaction to the condition of the counters parallels my reaction to myself. It is easy to love and appreciate myself when I am “shiny” and “perfect” – when I look and feel my best to myself and others. But can I also love myself during those many moments of imperfection – when I feel anxious, sad, afraid or vulnerable? And that is the challenge that all of us face.
We struggle to love and accept our imperfect selves and, at the same time, we expend tremendous effort to maintain our outer veneer of perfection so that others do not see our less perfect inner selves. In our efforts, we often increase our isolation and disconnection from others because of the risk that others will see through our outer “shiny” surface.
Bringing Mindfulness to Your Home
Bringing mindfulness to this challenge can help us move toward greater acceptance of both our inner and outer selves. While we can appreciate our outer self that faces the world and tries to put its best foot forward, let’s bring awareness and compassion rather than negative self-judgments to our inner selves. Let our insight increase to accept that we are fundamentally imperfect but it is in that imperfection that our individuality and beauty exist. When we are less fearful of others seeing our true selves, we open ourselves to the opportunity for more meaningful connections.
I’m determined to embrace both my streaky black counters as well as my beautifully imperfect self. This is not easy but with greater mindfulness and awareness, I will be moving in the right direction.