How Meditation is Like a Roomba

I attended a summer gathering of lovely ladies wearing sundresses and drinking wine as the sinking, hot sun blazed overhead. The spirits and salads were flowing. Conversation meandered from kids to families to partners to vacuuming. Wait, what? Please tell me more, I say. I live in the mountains and don't get our much aside from being in the woods.


Apparently half the women at our gathering had one. Life changing!, they all exclaimed. A little tipsy after only one glass of wine, I get immediate buy in from my husband, and drunk-purchased one. It arrived a few days later and was dubbed Pit Bull, after the Latino pop singer who sings the line, "everybody say rumba, eh!" Pit Bull has done 8 hours of vacuuming in 6 days, which is equivalent to the amount that we've done in two months.



As I began to watch Pit Bull trace our floors methodically back and forth, I was struck by how much this little hoover is like meditation. Our minds run our habituated thought patterns over and over again. We sit in meditation and we start to become aware of these patterns. With practice, we can pause the pattern, do an about face, just like the robot vacuum, and change tracks. We are essentially re-routing the habituated patterns of our mind. We can either stop a thought all together, or even use that pause to create a new pattern.


Speaking of vacuuming, one of the first times I became aware that my thoughts were on repeat was when I was vacuuming (with the ancient technology of the stand up vacuum).


There was a time in my life when I hated to clean. There were so many other fun things to do -- go outside, run 25 miles, eat fried foods, etc... My husband, then boyfriend, made it clear in the beginning of our relationship of his cleaning expectations for the both of us. He comes from a family of Olympic cleaners. I grumbled and complained but relegated to vacuuming once a week.


Fast forward to ten years later. I was vacuuming the stairs one day and noticed that my thoughts had turned into grumbling about my husband. That's odd, I thought. I was just happy as a clam about hime 10 minutes ago, before I started cleaning.


That's when it hit me. For ten years, TEN YEARS, my mind had associated the act of vacuuming with negative thoughts about my husband. Even though, in that span of years I had actually learned to like cleaning (shhh, don't tell him).


That groove of a thought pattern had etched its way into my mind and just held fast. It wasn't until my awareness of the thought, that I could break its cycle. Awareness first. Then, slowly I created a new pattern by thinking happy thoughts about my hubby while vacuuming. Pattern resolved. Then, we bought the robot vacuum and I never have t odo ita again!


This is why I meditate. I don't want to be controlled by my unintentionally formed thought patterns. I want to live from choice.


Just like my robot vaccuum, I sit every morning and scan the floor of my mind for dirt and debris. Going over and over again, noticing the patterns. Pausing, and returning back to my breath. "3 dirt detects today!" Scanning and combing. Breathing and noticing every day until returning to Home Base.



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