Washing the Dishes and Holiday Mindfulness

This is something I wrote out this time last year and I wanted to post it again! Enjoy…

Around the holidays our daily lives tend to become chaotic, plans don’t materialize the way we had foreseen, and unexpected events always pop up to put a kink in our flow. It’s also a time when the media is harder to escape. Our minds are flooded with advertisements and all kinds of marketing pulling us out of balance while we already have so many tasks to think about. All this dispersion of the mind can really begin to show itself as the holidays near and company arrives. What is supposed to be a warm and festive few months with family slowly evolves into a headache. 
I just finished reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Miracle of Mindfulness” and it was the perfect read for the moments before the holiday season. The book is about a type of meditation Hahn has named “mindfulness”. Before you begin to think, “There’s no way in hell I have time to pull out a cushion and candles to meditate when I have SO MANY THINGS TO DO!” just hear me out. This meditation isn’t about sitting for hours in silence contemplating rainbows and rivers, although Hanh certainly offers mindful exercises in stillness. Mindfulness is all about ACTIVE meditation, the kind of meditation we all need right? Because our lives are busy but we still deserve sanity! Okay so how do you become mindful? Hanh says… start with being present in each moment. Because, “each act is a rite”
“The Miracle of Mindfulness” is all about making the most important moment the present moment. If you are washing dishes then you should wash the dishes with purpose and only think of that action. Don’t think about what you’ll be doing afterwards or what might have occurred in the past. Stay in the present moment and if you find your mind wandering…focus on your breath! The book really emphasizes listening to your breathing at any time during your day to calm your mind and stay alert and aware in each moment. The goal is to minimize dispersion of mind and make life a little less chaotic. Don’t we all want that for the holidays?! Or EVERY DAY for that matter! Below I have posted an excerpt from the book, but it really is just one of the many golden nuggets! I hope you all have a pleasant and mindful holiday season!

While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly: why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a wondrous reality. I’m being completely myself, following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves(4).

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