Washing the Dishes - Bringing Mindfulness Into the Everyday
Recently, mindfulness has been a tool that has helped me recognize what is within my control and what isn't. When I'm super stressed out or preoccupied with repetitive thinking, mindfulness is how I have chosen to reign it in and recognize what I can do to change the way I feel and think - but it isn't easy and takes practice just like everything else.
Regardless of what kind of religion or spirituality you are involved with, mindfulness can become a part of your day to day routine. Thich Naht Hanh is a legend in Buddhism, but more importantly he has helped bring mindfulness to more American lives by writing several books including The Mircale of Mindfulness, an amazing text that helps remind us to slow down in order to find peace and understanding in any given situation. The following excerpt is Thicht Naht Hanh describing the importance of mindfulness while washing the dishes:
"If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as they were a nuisance, then we are not 'washing the dishes to wash the dishes'. What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can't wash the dishes, the chances are we won't be able to 'drink our tea' either. While thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus, we are sucked away into the future - and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life"
Even if you have a dishwasher (lucky!) you can practice this skill. Whether in the kitchen sink or anywhere else in life - practice focusing fully on what you are doing in the moment rather than worrying about what's going to happen 10, 30, 60 minutes from now. Control what you can right now. The benefits are small but measurable.