Thursday, November 20, 2008

Washing Dishes Mindfully

Good morning everyone. It is chilly here once again, but it will warm up and be beautiful once again as the day progresses.


A few years back I read 'Simple Abundance ~ A Daybook of Comfort and Joy' by Sarah Ban Breathnach and she mentioned Thich Nhat Hanh. He wrote about the spiritual way to wash dishes in his book 'The Miracle of Mindfulness: A Manual on Meditation.
I was inspired by Sarah's book and went on to check out books by Thich Nhat Hanh. I was touched by his writings and his gentle way of living and seeing life.

Below are a couple of excerpts from his books.


To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you aren't doing them. Once you are standing in front of the sink with your sleeves rolled up and your hands in the warm water, it is really quite pleasant. I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands. I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living. That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves and the fact that I am here washing them are miracles!

If I am incapable of washing dishes joyfully, if I want to finish them quickly so I can go and have dessert, I will be equally incapable of enjoying my dessert. With the fork in my hand, I will be thinking about what to do next, and the texture and flavor of the dessert, together with the pleasure of eating it, will be lost. I will always be dragged into the future, never able to live in the present moment.

Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred. In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane. I must confess it takes me a bit longer to do the dishes, but I live fully in every moment, and I am happy. Washing the dishes is at the same time a means and an end--that is, not only do we do the dishes in order to have clean dishes, we also do the dishes just to do the dishes, to live fully in each moment while washing them.

The above was taken from
Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life


While washing dishes, wash each piece relaxingly,

as though each bowl is an object of contemplation.
Consider each plate as sacred.
Follow your breath to prevent your mind from straying.
Do not try to hurry to get the job over with.
Consider washing the dishes the most important thing in life.
Washing the dishes is meditation.
If you cannot wash the dishes in mindfulness,
neither can you meditate while sitting in silence.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master, describes these mindfulness exercises as being conscious of each breath, each movement, and every thought and feeling, everything that has any relation to ourselves. This is exactly opposite to how almost all of us live our day-to-day lives. We remain distracted caught up in memories of the past, or dreaming or worrying about the future. We are never present in the moment, in the Here and Now, which is the only place where we can experience life, where we can truly live.

It feels so good to have the dishes all done.
The area looks nice and happier.

Yesterday morning while washing dishes
I saw a hummingbird,
then a little finch.
Butterflies weren't around yet
as it was too chilly for them to be out and about,
but they are usually out in numbers
and there are several different kinds.

May we each learn how to truly live
in each moment we are blessed with every day.



Sue said...

Hi Flowerlady,
I'm not into Budism or meditation, but I like the idea of enjoying what you are doing each moment you are blessed with. I like your dish and kitchen photos there!

FlowerLady said...

Good morning Sue ~ I'm not either, but there are good thoughts and ideas to be learned from lots of sources all over the world.

I decided to show a picture of dishes in sink and one of them done, to set the mood. Glad you liked.

I realize that these days probably most people have a dishwasher and don't wash dishes by hand, but the dishwasher can still be stacked mindfully.

Have a great day ~ FlowerLady