Handwashing the Dishes (to Clear the Mind)
When most of us think of handwashing the dishes, I doubt that the first thought that comes to mind is, “Yay! How exciting!” But have you ever thought that doing so might actually be good for your mental health?
Doing the dishes by hand is just one example where a change in perspective can make the world of difference in your experience. For instance, when we use the seemingly mundane activities in our lives as mediums to meditation, the actions that we undertake suddenly become less tedious and much more meaningful.
Sometimes I choose to wash the dishes by hand, even though I can just as easily decide to load them into the dishwasher. That's because there is something truly special about lathering my brand new sponge up with soapy suds, the warm water running over my hands, the scent of citrus or lavender fulfilling my inhale, and the sense of accomplishment that I feel of bringing something almost immediately to fruition; it all gives me a feeling of peace, relaxation, purpose, as well as respite from my thoughts of the day. I feel no urge to rush. I feel no desperation to finish. And I have only one focus in mind.
Sometimes my mind wanders a little, but that just shows me that I am in a state of flow. And as I wash every dish, every cup, glass, utensil, pot or pan, one by one, I bring my attention back to the task at hand, sighing with a deep full breath as I place one item after the other on the rack to dry.
The moral of the story here is that we can always bring the mindful and the miraculous into everything that we do, and all it takes is a simple change of focus. We can choose the slower path, the less harried one, and the path that takes us that extra step to achieve our goal; not because we are gluttons for punishment, but because we understand the value of being present and grounded in the moment so that we can find our center and re-establish our sense of peace all over again.
The world is hurried enough. Our minds and lives are busy as they are. And sometimes the only down time that we might have will be found in those “mundane” moments of performing chores that no one else wants to do. And it is precisely because nobody else wants to do them that we are often left to our own devices.
But we can make this a shared experience too, whether it’s with our partner or spouse, children, friends, or parents. We can make the simple and timeless act of handwashing the dishes a playful memory of laughter and conversation, and a valued getaway from the distractions of everyday life. No phones, no internet, no TV; just the basics and our dedication to spending time with one another. Now, what can be truly better than that?