So, you’ve tried everything but the kitchen sink and you still haven’t found a mindfulness exercise that works for you? Well, maybe it’s time to take a second look at the kitchen sink.
The simple act of washing your dishes can be a great way to practice mindfulness. That is, if you stop looking at it as a boring and annoying chore you don’t want to do, and instead, think of your kitchen sink as the gateway into a calm, relaxing place.
Wondering how can that be possible? Dishwashing is a great mindfulness exercise because it is a simple, repetitive task. As such, it can occupy that part of your mind that wants to analyze and criticize and otherwise distract you – your “monkey mind.” This can free you up to “just be” for a while. To escape from the pressures of the day and quiet your mind. To center yourself.
Turn Dishwashing into a Mindfulness Exercise
Here’s how to turn dishwashing into an opportunity to practice mindfulness:
If family members want to give you a hand, enlist them in gathering and stacking, then disperse them to other areas of the house so you can savor the dishwashing in peace, and maybe even some quiet.
Put on some soft music if you can, or at least ask other house members not to blast the TV too loud.
Stack your dishes on the counter so you easily reach over for one after another, without constantly having to break your rhythm by running back to the kitchen table to gather up more dirty dishes.
Fill your sink with hot, but not too hot, dishwater. Grab a sponge or a scrubbing brush that fits your hand comfortably. Take a few calming breaths. Reach for whatever you wash first.
As you place it in the water, be aware of how the soapy water feels on your hands, the warm water and the slippery soap.
Pay attention to the soapy bubbles as you gently wash the item, using circular motions.
When it’s clean, dip in the water once more, and then place it in the dish drainer. Watch how the soapy water dribbles down the dish and into your dish drainer.
Reach for the next item, and start the process again.
After you wash a few of your dishes, feel yourself getting into a rhythm. Continue to pay attention to the process of reaching for a dish, washing it, giving it another dip in the soapy water, then placing it in the dish drainer. Focus on the process of taking something that’s dirty and making it clean, how the warm water feels on your hands, the sense of accomplishment as the dish drainer gets full while the countertop gets clear.
Remind yourself of the joy of simple tasks, of doing something that benefits you and the people you live with, of the little things in life we actually have control over.
When you’ve washed all the dishes, rinse them. Whether you rinse your dishes as you go along, or wait until they are all washed, build this into your experience. Focus your attention on how the hot water rinses away the soapy water, leaving each dish shiny and clean.
And when you’ve finished, notice how relaxed you feel. With some practice, you might find that you’re able to clear your mind of all those worries and frustrations and thinking and analyzing while you lose yourself in soapy water.
What? Use the dishwasher? And miss this great opportunity for a little escape?
Wash. Rinse. Repeat. Relax!