WASHING THE DISHES TO WASH THE DISHES
I heard this little saying a few years back and it kind of stuck in my mind. Then I heard it again a couple months ago and decided to look into it a little more.
What is its meaning? It comes from a man named Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen Buddhist monk, scholar, poet, and a political figure from Vietnam. To sum it up as simple as possible, he talks about when washing the dishes, try not to focus on what is ahead. Stop and embrace the task you are doing. In ways, a meditation.
And it is true, especially in this day in age – it is all go go go. Always one step ahead, people don’t get in the moment anymore. It is hard enough to get someones attention without their head buried in their phone. Try getting people to stop and literally just think about and enjoy the task they are doing then and there.
So I have started to give it a try. The dishes was the first step. I tried to be thankful that fact that I had hot water and modern day soap to wash them (and I really do appreciate this, we had no hot water for a while and it was tough) and just stop thinking while I am doing them. Not worrying about my list of things to do, or what is happening outside. Just washing the dishes to wash the dishes. Nothing else. This is my only focus and worry in that moment. One thing at a time. Which is hard when you have serious things to think about like paying bills and work/home issues. But I find if I focus on negative stuff when I am doing tasks like washing the dishes, it actually makes me feel more like shit afterwards as I have spent that ten minutes working myself up. I brew the negativity every minute I focus on it. And what better time to do it when you are just washing some stupid dishes right?
But they aren’t stupid dishes and this time could be spent making you feel better not worse
I have now tried to bring this philosophy in with other areas of my life and tasks that I do. When it is homeschooling time, it is time for just that and only that. No keeping phone next to me incase an email comes through, etc. It is Maysas time. Then cooking dinner, replying to work messages, any task I am trying to just stop and be in that moment. Having a shower has become fun again. I stop and just feel the warm water and think of nothing else.
Appreciate the simple fact that I am alive and have the ability to perform this task. It makes a difference. You know that feeling when you injure yourself or you are sick and you appreciate not feeling like crap or having a uninjured foot and being able to walk around normally? Why not really be grateful that now, while you are okay?
Why do we have to wait until something changes. Be appreciative that you can use both your hands, that you have a working computer, wifi. Food on the table. Focus on each time you use them or eat. Just stop and smell the flowers.
Being in the moment with each task that I do is making a difference. I focus more, enjoy even mundane jobs I have to do. It calms my mind down (which says a lot – mine does not stop – it takes me 1+ hours to fall asleep every night) as my biggest worry for that particular moment is perhaps just washing a cup. Nothing else. Just making sure that cup is nice and clean.