When our dishwasher heater stayed on for 3 hours post-cycle and melted a bunch of plastic ware last week, my first thought was something like “Ugh. Hand-washing all of dirty dishes until the repairman comes. I don’t have time for this.” Much to my dismay the earliest available appointment was a full week away and the dishes were already beginning to pile up. I resigned to the fact that I better get started or else we may start attracting critters. So I set to washing and I remember thinking about my upcoming tele-class on self-care and going over a few ideas in my mind. Before I knew it, I had finished the dishes. I’m always a little weirded out when I’m driving and suddenly realize I’ve been on auto-pilot and don’t remember the past few miles, and this was kind of like that. I couldn’t put my finger on it but I had a feeling like I’d forgotten or missed something important. It was fleeting in that moment, but later that evening (as I noticed the evening’s dinner pile of dishes staring at me) it came back. I took a big inhale, closed my eyes and it Dawned on me. (Aren’t I punny?) I had a self-coaching moment: what is my current perspective of washing the dishes? Well a very unwelcome chore that would take time away from countless other things I’d prefer to spend time doing. What is possible? I want to change my perspective so that I don’t mind the chore, or better yet even look forward to it, so that the week ahead doesn’t feel quite as tedious. Game on! This was an opportunity for me to practice some creative self-care. So with that began my first dish-washing meditation.
As the combo of hot water and bubbles rose for the second time that day, I gently brought my attention to my breath and my body. I felt the temperature of the water on my hands. I breathed deeply and steadily, feeling the air filling and emptying from my lungs. I noticed the citrusy-clean smell of the liquid soap. I noticed the sensation of the kitchen mat under my feet. I paid all of my attention to simply noticing my sensations for the next ten minutes, and afterwards I felt refreshed and “rebooted.” Much to my delight, I actually began looking forward to this hand-washing chore. (What?!) Not that I have fallen in love with washing dishes but because I’ve chosen to use the time intentionally focusing on and committing to myself not to go on auto-pilot, to give my brain a break. Meditation is like closing all those apps on your phone that run in the background and cause it to slooooow its processing. It doesn’t have to be reciting of a mantra or sitting in a dark room in silence. There’s so much ease that comes with simply noticing what’s happening inside of your body. It affords you a break from planning, story-telling, and all that our brains are hard-wired to do for us each day.
I actually started writing this while waiting for the repairman to arrive today, and now he’s come and gone with a work-order for ordering a replacement part. It may be another week before it comes in. This would have been viewed as a huge inconvenience for me before I started this journey of self-discovery and inner work, despite being grateful for the flexibility to work from home. What I’m most excited by is how I am not defining this as good or bad news. It just is. I choose to use the time to clear my mind and center, creating space for more of what I want to spend my mental energy on: those things that bring me joy. Will I forgo the cost of the repairs, continuing on without a dishwasher so that I have a reason to meditate over dirty plates and silverware? Of course not. Because there’s always a load of laundry to fold….