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Washing Dishes

Practicing mindfulness is a way to slow the pace of life down and feel grounded and present in everyday moments. I love the ritual of sitting down with Tibetan singing bowls, incense, and candles, and meditating. This process grounds me, makes me more present, and magnifies each moment, so I can be aware of its unique beauty.

But what about the hours and hours of other moments throughout the day that we may want to rush through to get to the good stuff? They also deserve our attention. There are several tasks we perform throughout the day which may seem mundane. But it is possible to apply a mindful approach to these moments as well, and in doing so, magnify each moment’s beauty.

I can’t think of many people more masterful at practicing mindfulness in everyday moments than Thich Nhat Hanh. Here’s how he describes washing dishes.

If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact, we are completely incapable of realizing the miracle of life while standing at the sink. If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future – and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

This is a wonderful reminder. The next time I wash the dishes, I’ll wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes, and not to tick something off my To Do list before I enjoy my tea.

Farhad Desai

Farhad is Co-Founder and Mindfulness Facilitator at Beyond Binary Consulting. He is the author of Orientation: For the Journey of a Lifetime