This week we will be focusing on either washing the dishes or packing and unpacking the dishwasher.
This is somewhat less of an emotionally neutral activity than brushing your teeth, and we will bring some of this emotional awareness into the exercise.
So, out with the post it notes and pop one above the sink or on the dishwasher or somewhere where it will be a quick reminder before you begin one of these tasks. If you are not the person in your household usually responsible for the dishes, then maybe this is a good time to combine this activity with doing something nice for someone else with no need for acknowledgement or exchange (a future exercise coming soon!).
Perhaps the best way to approach this exercise initially will be with acceptance rather than joy and excitement (although if these do pop up in the week, don’t be surprised). The main thing is that while you’re dealing with the dishes to do this in a way in which you are not completely lost in thought.
Make use of your senses:
– notice any smells - the dishwashing powder, the leftovers, any other general kitchen smells
- sounds - the clinking of the dishes against one another, the water going into or out of the sink (in our home we call this the drain dragon and it elicits much excitement from the kids – perhaps a chance to reclaim some childishness and actually enjoy this?)
- textures - smooth plates, slimy pots, wetness vs dryness, cold vs heat
- tastes - no, I don’t expect you to sip the dirty dish water, but how about running your finger through the leftover sauce?
- sights - colours, bubbles, flashing lights on dishwashers, wrinkly hands
The point is to not do this as a means to an end, but to really engage in every moment of the experience. Just because it’s become a boring old chore doesn’t mean that it has to remain that way. Forget the past and embrace this experience as if it was the first time you had ever done it and that you were never ever going to get the chance to do it again. Try to remember the first time one of your kids helped you to wash the dishes and the joy and excitement that they brought to the experience.
Notice also your mental and emotional activity throughout. As usual, if you do get lost in thought and move into auto pilot mode, simply notice this and gently bring yourself back into the present. Pay particular attention to the emotional baggage that may be associated with this task – any resentment, boredom, irritability, etc. Don’t add a second layer of judgement by judging your response to this. Notice it with interest, see it as a conditioned response based on the past, and let it go.
Most importantly, enjoy the experience. Every moment of every day counts. And someone has to do the dishes – wouldn’t it make an enormous difference to the general energy in the world if everyone did every task they were involved in with total acceptance and maybe even a little joy?!
BTW Don’t forget to continue brushing your teeth with awareness. The point of this series of exercises is to bring awareness into as many areas of your day as possible, but focusing on one at a time to make it more accessible.
Bring on the bubbles!