Mindfulness and the Dishes

Mindfulness and the Dishes

Mindfulness and the Dishes

The kids are in bed.

I’ve checked email and wandered around on the Internet.

Time to wash dishes.

So I get a tape out (yes, I still have an audio tape player) and get ready to listen to Thich Nhat Hanh’s “The Miracle of Mindfulness” as I wash dishes. I do a couple other little things while the tape begins. In the introductory story, Hanh is asking a parent if it’s difficult to live a family life and a spiritual life at the same time. The parent replies that he’s found a way to have more time: to not divide time (mentally) into “my time” and “time doing X” but to see it all as “his time” by being mindful. This sounds great! This is just what I need to hear about!

I start running the water for dishes. Hanh’s next story is about how, when he was a novice monk, he often got stuck with dishwashing duty. It was hard, especially with only cold water, no soap (only ashes and rice husks) and sometimes over 100 monks in the monastary. Well, I don’t have it that tough, but I can relate. I mean, I don’t have a dishwasher–that counts as oppressive suffering in this day and age, doesn’t it? So this is going to be good. But then Hanh drops the bomb on my little multitasking escapism plan by saying: “but the important thing is when you’re washing dishes, to just wash dishes, not be thinking about anything else.” And I guess that would include, for instance, listening to tapes [and thinking] about mindfulness.

Argh! This is why it takes so long to listen to these kind of books. I have to keep stopping them to digest the content because, invariably, something comes up every few minutes that hits me square between the eyes, and I have to think about it. These ideas demand time to soak in. So, I turned off the tape. I couldn’t stand the hypocracy, especially when it’s so blatant I wonder if I’m secretly being taped on some kind of reality TV show. I also stopped washing dishes because by then the idea for writing this was jumping up and down in my head… And, as sometimes happens in these “aha” moments, a completely fresh thought came to me as I walked mindfully over to the computer to write this: “next time I get a book-on-tape, I’ll get a novel.”

Silica (student, teacher and friend of North Main Yoga)


Elizabeth Delaney