Meditation as housecleaning

I sat down to read on Sunday and found it quite difficult to focus.  I'd removed all distractions - I was by myself, comfortable, with some background music on - but a thousand thoughts interrupted me.  Gotta add that chore to my to-do list ... what did that guy mean when he said that ... it became comical when I remembered I was out of business cards and found myself getting out of my chair to put a couple of them where I'd find them later.

This was my mind tying up loose ends.

I kept returning to the book (my book club was meeting to discuss it Monday) but I felt bad that I wasn't fully engaged.  I liked the material, but it took a couple hours before I could read more than a paragraph without thinking of something else.  I had a bit of an epiphany and jotted myself a note, saying that it happened when I sat down to read because the environment I set up for reading is exactly the environment my mind needs to do the housecleaning.

Let's pursue this housecleaning analogy:
Let's say I have the house to myself on a Saturday.  I want to use the day to work on a big project and then relax later.  I have some breakfast and start walking around the house.  In the kitchen, I set down my coffee cup and I see that there are dirty dishes.  I wash them and clean the countertops.  I can't just start on my project with the house looking like a disaster.  Leaving the kitchen, I go upstairs to put on some old jeans.  On the way, I see dog hair on the floor, so I decide to vacuum.  But when I get to the bedroom I see clothes lying around.  I tidy them up and make the bed.  I vacuum.  When I go to the basement to get the handheld vacuum for the stairs, perhaps I notice my half-finished project laid out on a table, and start working on it.  Or perhaps I observe that the fireplaces are full of ash, and it's cold out so I might prepare firewood for later.  This goes on until I'm either too tired to continue or there is no more that I can do.  And then finally I settle down.  Perhaps in the living room, with a fire and a beer and some music.  Or perhaps in my office, with a book.  Or maybe, if I have the energy, work on that project.
When I got to the book club and mentioned my epiphany, Jack Ricchiuto told me that my experience was a textbook example of meditation.  In meditation, he said, there is an object of focus; at first the mind wanders but you return your attention to the object.  After a half an hour to a few hours, the mind clears.  I was quite surprised; meditation has been recommended to me before, but I always imagined it to be ... I don't know, something like magic.  Not something that could happen accidentally.  But this experience was quite familiar to me.  I guess I've been meditating from time to time all my life.