Calm Your Nerves #20 – Do the Dishes

dishesGetting down and dirty (pun intended) with the pots and pans could have a positive effect on your nervous system. And could actually result in the sparkling glassware and spotless utensils that dishwasher detergents promise but never actually deliver.

For centuries, Zen practitioners have experienced the benefits of mindfulness. They formalized their practice into hours of sitting meditation. But is all that sitting really necessary? While it does have added benefit, it’s not so much the sitting but what you bring to it that counts.

Simple activities, done with mindfulness, i.e. focused attention, have been shown to have the same effect. Doing the dishes is the latest to get scientific approval.

So next time you’re tempted to toss your dishes – either out or into the dishwasher – stop. Fill the sink with suds, grab a cloth or sponge and give the grime a run for its money. The more attention you pay to what you’re doing, the greater the benefit. So, take your time.

Feel the soapy water on your hands (or through your gloves if your skin is sensitive).
Really look at what you’re washing.
Watch as grime is wiped away.
Add a little elbow grease and work away at the tough stains and baked on grime. (Soak if necessary.)
Rinse away the dirt and watch it go down the drain.
Enjoy the sense of accomplishment and the squeaky clean of your dishes, and – who knows – perhaps even a calmer you..

One comment

  1. Russ Hall says:

    Often when I offer this kind of suggestion, I add the idea of taking a bit of time for the hands to switch roles – slowly and without force or hurry – to illuminate how they are connected/supported through the back and through the organization of balance. Breath and a smile also ease the unfamiliar use of the hands. Dieter Stoecklin in Switzerland headlined his hand-out card “What would happen if you put your pants on with the other foot first?” so maybe it is an accessible idea even before the first lesson. I didn’t quite think so 15 years ago, but now … ?

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