‘When you wash dishes, wash dishes’

Are you living mindfully?

“When you wash dishes, wash dishes.” –Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist monk

What a peculiar statement! Who doesn’t wash dishes when they are washing dishes? Take a moment to think about that. Envision yourself at your kitchen sink washing dishes. Are you mindful of what you are doing? Are you paying attention to the action of washing dishes? Or are you in your head planning your day? Are you looking out the window at all the yard work that needs to be done?

The truth is that few of us are fully present in that moment of washing dishes. I know I am not. My mind is everywhere except on the dishes, that is, until I consciously pull myself back to the task at hand — the practice of mindfulness.

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Zen Buddhist monk, in his book “The Miracle of Mindfulness” uses this simple yet profound sentence to demonstrate the concept of mindfulness: Otherwise known as paying attention, being in the present moment and living in the now.

Practicing mindfulness is difficult to do in a culture that thrives on and encourages multitasking. However, research demonstrates that the practice of mindfulness improves our physical, emotional and spiritual well-being.

Mindful awareness short circuits negative thoughts of the past, fearful thoughts of the future, and assists us in slowing down enough to enjoy life as it is happening. Ruminating on past events, worrying about unlived future events and being half present to current life events makes an enemy of the present moment.

Mindful awareness befriends the present moment and gives us respite into the world of the now. This respite lasts as long as our attention holds us in the present moment. It is this practiced space of calm that helps lower blood pressure; relieve stress; improve sleep; decrease symptoms of depression, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder; and imbues us with an overall sense of well-being.

The purposeful act of present moment awareness is the gateway to a sense of interconnectedness of who we are as body, mind and spirit.

Try it. The next time you are washing dishes, purposely wash dishes. Feel the calm that comes from leaving no wiggle room for you to be anywhere else but there. Not to mention, spotless dishes.

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