"Listen to a piece of music. Breathe long, light, and even breaths. Follow your breath, be master of it while remaining aware of the movement and sentiments of the music. Do not get lost in the music, but continue to be master of your breath and your self." Thick Nhat Hanh
While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means 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 am 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.
– The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Although I dislike washing dishes, if I wash them mindfully, I find it's actually a relaxing task. When you wash the dishes next time, try really being present in the moment. Feel the warm water and suds. Run your hands on the dishes and immerse them in the water. If you feel the urge to rush to get the task done, notice that and bring your mind back to fully experiencing washing the dishes.
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When Mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” Thick Nhat Hanh
This quote struck me, when I read it, both for the presence that I often feel is missing when the multitude of household media draw our attention away from each other, as well as for my own lack of presence,at times, with my children. In our household it’s not uncommon for a mundane conversation to be interrupted by the buzz of an incoming email that can’t go unchecked. Nor is it unusual for one child to receive half or even a third of my attention because I’m busy with one of the other kids, the house, or that one thing that I had hoped to be able to do for myself. There is nothing important or vital being interrupted. We are generally good at attending during moments of consequence. But I know how insignificant I feel when it is my mundane conversation that has been interrupted by an essential email. During the next week, try to increase your mindful presence with your family and those you love. Don’t try to be mindfully present all the time, it is unlikely that you’ll succeed, but choose a few times each day during the week to give your full and undivided attention to those you love. If the cell phone rings or there are other disruptions, notice them, let them pass and return your attention. If the conversation truly is dull and tedious, notice that and return your attention to your loved one. At the end of the week, notice if there have been any changes in the quality of your interactions with your family and loved ones. Did they “bloom” when you were present with them?