The other day I was in a hurry to clear dirty dishes off the counter when I remembered something that Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in Peace is Every Step.
To my mind, the idea that doing the dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you are not doing them.
It slowed me way down and made me giggle. I could see that I’d gotten way ahead of myself thinking about sitting down for dinner and going out for a bike ride before dark. No wonder I was annoyed at the thought of doing another dish, I was nowhere near doing them!
The passage goes on to say….
Once you are standing in front of the sink with your sleeves rolled up and your hands in warm water, it really is quite pleasant. I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands. I know that if I hurry in order to eat dessert sooner, the time will be unpleasant and not worth living. That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves and the fact that I am here washing them are miracles!
While we may not be able to bring this quality of presence to everything we do, there’s something to be said about really being there for everyday tasks and activities. With presence, a sense of interest and appreciation blossom, and we feel more satisfaction with what we’re doing – no matter how mundane or boring the task seems.
Try it for yourself over the next week. Choose one activity that you do everyday and bring full presence to it. Enliven your senses, noticing what you feel, hear, see, taste, or smell as you engage in the activity. Do it with a beginner’s mind so that you’re less in your head about how it usually is, and more in your body directly experiencing how it is. Imagine that you’re a child doing the activity for the first time.
It’s a simple shift, but somewhat radical all the same. So much gets lost on us in daily life as we focus so intently on getting it all done. Periodically slowing down to taste what is can be such a refreshing way to open our hearts and minds to the life that’s right in front of us.