Ironing the Pillow Cases – A Lesson of Love

In the past I would always end up feeling very frustrated whenever I was doing the ironing because I never achieved a ‘perfect’ result. Somehow I could never get all the creases out or fold sheets up neatly in rectangles. I often began with a meditative feeling while ironing, but inevitably the frustration with my own skills used to creep in.

Therein lies a very important point when I say meditatively: I now realise I was choosing a state of unconscious checking-out from the actual task, so not really paying attention to what I was doing or how I was doing it. No wonder I became frustrated!

Recently I was ironing a pillow case and noticed that the way I was ironing had changed. No longer was I subsiding into a semi-conscious state and dawdling, nor was I rushing and driven to ‘get it done’.

Instead I laid the pillow case gently on the ironing board, smoothed it out, and aligned its corners. As I lifted the iron I was very aware that someone, myself or my partner or a friend, would soon be laying their head on it at night.

I felt, as I started to gently lay the iron on the material, how my gentleness and tenderness was a respectful and loving way to prepare for the laying down of those heads for a reposeful night’s sleep. And so I began to iron the pillowcase with true care and a focused attention.

I started to feel how loving this was for myself, to treat myself tenderly as I ironed and prepared the recipient for a beautiful night’s sleep. Something within me had brought about the change and was enabling me to move gently and flowingly. I felt a deep love for myself I had never felt before. In that moment time did not matter… in fact, it took no longer than before, maybe even less. I enjoyed the doing of it because I was in the how of the doing of it. The how was the gentle quality of energy that came before I even knew I was going to iron.

That morning, and many mornings and evenings for the previous few days, I had been listening to Serge Benhayon’s Gentle Breath Meditations on the Unimed Living website. The consistency of practising my gentle breath along with these audios has had a direct effect on the quality of my life, the way I move, and the way I express.

It allowed me to choose to be consciously present when I was ironing, without effort; and when I ironed the second pillowcase I found that I was even gentler and went back and re-ironed the first one. This is infinitely more rewarding than the old feeling of ‘getting it all done.’

This beautiful lesson applies to everything I do, and as I begin to experience moving in a new way I can feel how the quality of my whole life can change, as one task is not separate from another but one continual flow.

This is written with deep gratitude to Serge Benhayon who showed me, through the Gentle Breath Meditation, the way to re-connect with my inner-heart – and from which I can choose to live my life consciously and reverently.

And for the simplicity of a pillowcase!

By Joan Calder, Frome, Somerset

Further Reading:
Checking out – are we sowing the seeds of our own dementia?
Driving With Presence



749 thoughts on “Ironing the Pillow Cases – A Lesson of Love

  1. Joan I love the simplicity of this blog and yet it is so profound. It is in that quality we bring it to everything. The integrity in just simply ironing a pillow case matters, in that someone’s head is going to be laying on it, it is so loving. And that just goes to show, that integrity is in everything we do or be, not just for ourselves but others around us.

  2. Joan, thank you for talking about the ‘meditative quality’ and how this was really a check out and not really a true loving quality to be in. I can relate to this too where I have allowed myself to be in a state of ‘meditation’ but one that does not allow true presence and body awareness with the task at hand. And this is really a state of escape rather than one of embracing life and all it brings. This is something I am thankful now of being aware of – it is after all an opportunity to let such ways of being go and instead live life with feet and all in it!

    1. This ‘meditative quality’ can occur at the snap of a finger, because we have allowed thoughts to consume us that tells us this. We can also change this by choosing differently too. Then there is no meditative anything…

  3. I am very familiar with the ticking the box approach of getting things done and still fall into this. To clarify, there is nothing wring with completing checklists or getting jobs that need to get done, done. But what Joan is presenting here is to feel the quality of how we have completed something, and though I am aware of this and love the quality aspect, I still can find myself slipping into old patterns and hardening up my body to get a job done, rather than feeling the quality of something and choosing quality to complete the quantity.

  4. A gorgeous sharing Joan, and one that does so gently remind me too of how important the quality is that we do things in and with.

  5. How we do anything in life is everything … how we are with ourselves, with a partner, a friend, a colleague, how we walk, how we clean, how we write assignments. And from experience the more I surrender to the love within and am present in and with my body then everything else just flows .. there is no trying. It’s really beautifull and I know that this is just the beginning there is so much more to unfold.

  6. The gentle breath meditation is a wonderful resource, ‘ The consistency of practising my gentle breath along with these audios has had a direct effect on the quality of my life, the way I move, and the way I express.’

  7. Great appreciation of ironing a pillow case and smoothing out the creases in life in how we are with ourselves.

  8. I know I would rather sleep on a pillow that had been ironed with the care and tenderness that you are describing here Joan, then a perfectly ironed pillow that may be creaseless but may also be loveless!

    1. Yes I agree Jstewart51, it is very important but so much of what we do often lack the quality of love because we tend to settle for what is pleasing to our eyes and leave quality out of the equation.

      1. Yes, and for me where I can drop the quality is out of the drive to achieve the desired outcome and then the love is not there either.

  9. We can get so caught up in what we are doing and how much we have to do that we don’t even see that no matter what we are doing there can be joy in every moment when we become more aware of how we are in all we do. Every detail matters.

    1. True, staying aware of how we are with all we do is important, ‘This beautiful lesson applies to everything I do, and as I begin to experience moving in a new way I can feel how the quality of my whole life can change.’

  10. That is very beautiful to bring even more tenderness to the next movement.
    As energy always moves we always have to deepen the quality we bring otherwise we descend.

    1. I know what you mean Annelies, when we do anything with love, it becomes easy, the flow and spaciousness in there and the most mundane task can feel magical.

  11. I love this blog Joan, recently I experimented with ironing my bed sheets, it was amazing to feel how differently I got into bed with more presence and care with my movements. To bring this level of care and quality into everything we do in life we certainly feel the flow on effect of this.

  12. This shows me/us how much there is to learn about life and ourselves when we open our eyes, hearts and minds to the possibility that we can learn so much for anyone, anything and at anytime – even ironing a pillow case.

  13. The quality that we move in can be deeply nourishing and harmonious or leave us full of crinkles and hard edges that need ironing out.

  14. I have always found ironing to be far too much hard work, so much so I make sure all my clothes are iron free. Your blog Joan has inspired me to revisit the ironing board and approach it in another way.

    1. ha ha same here – I have not ironed anything for many years and this does not inspire me to start ironing as the quality Joan speaks of can be applied any and everywhere!

  15. It is interesting to read how, what perhaps many would consider a ‘good’ thing – that is, to be in a meditative state – has actually created in your body a state of unease… but what’s more fantastic, is how you were able to recognised this – showing your great education and lessons in awareness that you have received form Serge Benhayon.

    1. Well said Shami – meditation if used as a check out and a way to escape life, does not support us to embrace and live life in full, and this I now know too. But in the past with my understanding of it, I too though that that was a great thing to check out and escape from what I was having to live. I deeply appreciate having come to this understanding as it has supported me in so many ways to embrace life but also at the same time learn to live with gentleness and tenderness and so many more qualities that come from the essence of who we are (which goes deeper within than physicality).

  16. Hello Joan, I haven’t read your blog in sometime but the joy of expressing your love as a quality in your ironing is palpable. It’s given me pause to stop and appreciate the many ways I now express a loving quality in what I do. One of my ways is every morning when I hang the towels back after bathing, I do so with love and tenderness. I chose that one activity as part of building a consistency of quality as it’s something I always remember to do. It’s been a great starting point which has now moved into other areas of my day. The loving quality we express is so beneficial for our own body and being, for those around us, and also for the entire ocean of energy we live in.

  17. I love how the deeper the love for yourself, the more that love ripples out to others naturally, without effort as it is flowing through our veins.

  18. Whenever I checkout things go haywire and I end up doing things in a way that I do not like. Like burning the nuts in the oven this morning. It’s important to not personalise these experiences and see it for what it is, an energy that is not who we are that we have let in.

  19. Wow, what a beautiful example Joan. I often go into a drive to get things done and then I find myself feeling frustrated. But when I choose to connect to the quality of how I do things instead of aiming for a result, this changes everything. By bringing more love and gentleness to what I do, I feel great and I enjoy what I do and also, I tend to get more done.

  20. This has just reminded me how I have been carried away by the doings of the day, taking the how for granted, and how enriching it is to be in connection and appreciate and confirm that connection as we move through our doings. Thank you, Joan.

  21. I absolutely love ironing. And I love how the quality and care of ironing is then felt when you put on the freshly ironed shirt the next morning 🙂

  22. “No longer was I subsiding into a semi-conscious state and dawdling, nor was I rushing and driven to ‘get it done’.”

    You have hit the nail on the head with these two states – so many of us go into these two when we are cleaning or doing what we consider a menial task (or possibly a bigger task as well!). Your blog is a great real life example of how it can be another way – one with full conscious presence and a deep love for yourself and for humanity.

  23. I never iron my pillowcases but Joan your blog is so gorgeous I am feeling inspired to iron with love and presence and feel the difference this quality brings to my sleep.

  24. I’ve tried to iron out every crease but it never works, I’ve tried not ironing it but then it feels uncared for. All this trying to be satisfied with an end result I completely ignore how I feel while ironing or not ironing. When I focus on that then it doesn’t matter what I do with the sheets because how they feel when I come back to them is less disturbing.

    1. That’s a great point Leigh. We know we can never do everything perfectly if we have an image of how it should be when it is finished. It is the quality and presence we do it in that can be perfect.

  25. Joan this is a great blog illustrating the simple fact that whenever we rush to get things done to tick that proverbial box off it will always be at the expense of quality.

  26. I’m not much of an ironer. In fact when my new housemate moved in he was astonished at my ironing board and iron and how ineffective they are. For months the tops of my bed sheets have not been flat and straight and one day I got out the iron and ironed them. Oh the joy of making my bed and seeing my sheets so beautifully flat. Not only did I love the process of ironing I love that lasting effect.

    1. It’s loving to make sure we have the correct equipment to support daily activities. I recently invested in a new iron and now quietly enjoy ironing items that need it and the quality we put in, feeds us back.

  27. Thank you Joan for a reminder to bring tenderness and loving care into all that we do, and as we do it one thing then naturally flows onto the next – the powerful effects of doing the Gentle Breath Meditation.

  28. The care and tenderness that you ironed that pillow case with Joan is palpable. I could sense the love that I would feel if I placed my head on it and it felt delicious. I’m booking in a night at your place if I’m ever in your part of the world!

  29. Ironing bed linen always used to be a chore that I delayed thus ensuring the wrinkles became harder to remove. When I now iron honouring those who will sleep with the energy I have prepared myself with the ironing I am aware of my responsibility and purpose in every move. Ironing bed linen is no longer a chore.

  30. It’s rare that anyone irons a pillowcase at all these days – the pace of my life is such that a job like this usually wouldn’t even occur to me. Recently I decided to iron a pillowcase inspired by this blog and it felt beautiful to appreciate myself and my movements while I paid attention to the task at hand. I can see that moments like these can be far from mundane if we bring all of us to them.

  31. Thank you Joan, it’s these little moments, seemingly mundane, that can become exquisite expressions from the love of our soul that enrich not only our own lives but the lives of those around us.

  32. The moment we can connect to the greater purpose of our doing we enter a space that is void of any personalised issue but instead fills with the love that we are and magnify by our movements.

  33. Who would have thought that we can experience such joy from ironing or in fact, any household chore? I for one would have poo-pooed it and always felt hard done by for having to do all the household duties, but now I know that as you have stated Joan, even ironing can bring such joy to the body and depending on the energy we do our cleaning in, everything can bring a deep sense of satisfaction to the body.

    1. I love the moments hanging out the washing with the early morning sun and the birds and stillness of the day – it’s a beautiful moment to stop and connect and be with me. Plus I have fun in how I hang the washing out and playing with colours, pegs and order.

  34. When we do things in presence and with our whole body, time no longer counts as we experience and move in spaciousness.

  35. I used to think doing things like ironing pillowcases was just a waste of time. But the only time we waste is the time when we are not with ourselves. We can do many things being absent minded or in a state of function. It does not matter what we do but the quality in which we do it.

  36. Anything we do when we are with ourselves in our body has this feeling of completeness and wholeness, and how lovely when we discover ourselves like this, living in harmony.

  37. The mentioned Gentle Breath Meditations of Serge Benhayon are a Great support to become more present in the body.
    i found them life changing.

  38. I watched someone ironing their pillowcases just the other day. I had never thought to do this and took note of how beautiful it would be to do this, knowing that how I ironed would be the quality my head would rest upon to sleep.

  39. This is a very wise lesson in how the quality we choose to move in makes all the difference to how we feel, our experience of life and what we prepare for….we can prepare for a supportive way of living or we can be ill prepared and reactionary, we get to choose.

  40. This is a great reflection for life – how we are can be quite lovely when we simply are in the moment of it enjoying whatever is there before us. Then we can get stuck on how we want things to be and we lose that loveliness.

  41. I have not used an iron once this year and don’t remember using one last year either. I have clothes that don’t need ironing but I can certainly relate to this in terms of making my bed in the morning. I do it in such a beautiful way so that loving imprint is there to greet me when I come back in the night and also to leave my side of the bed looking beautiful and harmonious for my husband – he does the same when he makes his side of the bed!

    1. Still not inspired to take up ironing, unless it is a item that really has to be ironed, and then I wonder how did that get into my wardrobe…

  42. Everything matters, but as you point out Joan, its not the task itself that’s important, but how we are when we do the task. Its the quality we are in that makes the difference.

  43. Nothing is irrelevant is it?? Just through ironing a pillowcase we can see that everything we do matters to another person. “I can feel how the quality of my whole life can change, as one task is not separate from another but one continual flow”

  44. I can relate so well to being in a ‘meditative state’ when in fact I was checked out. Realising this and now connecting with and being present in what I am doing is true meditation in action.

  45. Very beautiful Joan, what I feel is that you connected to both your presence while you were ironing and also the wider purpose of what you were doing, that it’s being prepared for someone to lay their head on, it a great reminder that we affect so many things and how our care can really support both us and another.

  46. I love how even in the simplest and most mundane of tasks there are divine lessons awaiting us if we are open to them.

  47. Naturally we breathe fire and move in light so tasks when done without the love of who we are or a life when lived without the breath of the divine, is fruitless and futile, barren and cold.

  48. Seeking ‘perfection’ is such a killer! I find if I go into that kind of mindset that I get myself stuck and create a struggle with what I’m doing and loose connection with my body, whereas when I stay in connection with the whole of me and how I’m moving whilst I do what is there to be done it totally changes the quality I bring to life.

  49. “… as I begin to experience moving in a new way I can feel how the quality of my whole life can change, as one task is not separate from another but one continual flow.” This is beautiful Joan. There is no separation in life in truth. When we take all of us – and quality – into everything we do – life becomes a flow.

  50. Such a simple and beautiful reminder Joan, often we can rush through our tasks wanting to complete them but the awareness you offer here is gold – to bring quality and presence to everything we do and how this loving imprint confirms and benefits others in a powerful way.

  51. Chores in life can get very boring and empty if we don’t do them with purpose of people and quality. This emptiness than makes the result more important like you were wanting the perfectly ironed pillow-case without a crease (which is nearly impossible anyway…). If we make the chore about purpose of doing it in a quality that is going to bless the next person that is receiving the end result of the chore life gets magical and meaningful.

  52. Being consciously present does truly alter our quality of life, how we perceive it and how other people experience us. I used to live in my head, so many thought chugging in and out distracting me, but what was the quality of those thoughts…I still have thoughts but they involve less stories and drama and I live much more in the here and now. Inspiring to read of these experiences that are simple , but so rich in what is there to be learnt.

  53. From all that is said this is the key, “This beautiful lesson applies to everything I do, and as I begin to experience moving in a new way I can feel how the quality of my whole life can change, as one task is not separate from another but one continual flow.” We don’t choose to do something at the point we pick it up as we may think. We are the sum total in any moment of all of our movements prior. Live in a way that has a true deep care for yourself and everything and one around you, then in your next step all that care will be alive at your fingertips.

  54. We have so many opportunities during the day to either be conscious and present and to feel the moment, or to not,… And the difference in the quality of life that comes from the choice that we make here is profound.

  55. This is beautifully expressed Joan! I will never look at ironing in the same way again, instead realising there is an opportunity to lovingly imprint that pillowcase or indeed anything at all that we may choose to iron.

  56. When I read this I can feel how absolutely divinely designed we are to support ourselves and each other. It is our divine right to do it for ourselves and each other.

  57. I loved re-reading this blog Joan – a wonderful reminder that everything we do is affected by the quality we are holding as we work with any task. Then there are no tasks only conscious presence filled with love and joy in every moment.

  58. Joan – you have made ironing a pillow case about the all – aware that another will rest their head on it. How beautiful this is and asks us to be responsible and look at the bigger picture in every movement.

  59. When we bring conscious presence to any moment the ripple effect is felt long after. That care and tenderness is felt within our body in each movement, this feeling a true confirmation.

  60. The quality of the stillness you have shared Joan whilst ironing the pillowcase cannot be forced. The body is the marker and when we are absolutely connected, this quality comes into everything we bring ourselves to. I too, celebrate the Gentle Breath Meditation and how simply it brings connection to our body.

    1. Great point Christine. This truth really stood out to me too. I often observe myself ‘trying’ to be still and present when it suits me but the quality I can bring is always informed by every step that has preceded the moment before me.

  61. What I love about this sharing is that it highlights how the power of love is an all-encompassing interconnected quality that transcends time and space, and offers alchemy in every moment if we are open to it. In your willingness to connect to love you not only allowed love to then guide you and your movements, but also your loving imprints then become an act of love, a blessing for those at a later date to receive when they lay their heads down on the pillows that were lovingly and respectfully ironed by you, by love. Awe-inspiring Joan – thank you.

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