Dish by dish Posted by Pauline on May 27, 2001 at 05:12:19:
Kamala Masters wrote on 'Just Washing Dishes' in Voices of Insight
edited by Sharon Salzberg.
She shares how her teacher gave her on-the-spot mindfulness instructions
for washing the dishes.
He said, "Have a general awareness of just washing the dishes, the
movement of your hands, the warmth or coolness of the water, picking a
dish up, soaping it, rinsing it, putting it down. Nothing else is
happening now - just washing the dishes. Then he told me to experience
my posture, or just notice that the process of seeing is happening. He
said I didn't need to go slow, or to observe everything
moment-by-moment, but that I should have a general mindfulness of
whatever was happening as I washed the dishes. "Just washing the
So I continue, just washing the dishes.
Once in a while he would ask me, "What is happening now?" When I
replied, "Now I'm worried about paying the mortgage", he would further
instruct, "Just notice 'worried' and bring your attention back to
washing the dishes.
When I told him, "I'm planning what to cook for dinner." He repeated,
"Just notice 'planning', because that's what is in the present moment,
and then return to just washing the dishes.
Later Kamala tells of how by doing this ordinary task with intentional
mindfulness has helped her to notice and experience many things more
clearly. The changing physical sensations, the flow of thoughts and
emotions and my surrounding environment are all much more alive. This
has been a steadfast training in bringing awareness back to my original
intention, the simplicity of what I am doing at the time. This helped
collect or focus my mind so that it was not so scattered. To do this
has required me to develop more perseverance, patience, humility, clear
intention, honesty with myself and much more.
These are no small things. Just from washing the dishes! So day by day,
dish by dish, a lot of the training of the mind and heart can be
The resulting enjoyment of being more fully present with life is a rare
treasure in this world.
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Archived August 6, 2001