Friday, 12 October 2007

Dharma in the what???

I have decided to call my new blog 'Dharma in the Dishes' in honour of Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching on mindfulness in this everyday task.

How many times have you rushed through the washing up, soap flying, your mind awhirl with thoughts of what you're going to do as soon as you're done? You might idly swirl the dishes in the water and stack them whilst worrying or planning or scheming, dreaming, whistling or zoning out. The television may be blaring the background, dinner bubbling on the stove, a thousand and one thoughts and activities happening simultaneously. But what if,while washing dishes, instead of ignoring what we are doing or rushing through it in order to get to what we plan to do next, instead of thinking or worrying about what happened in the past or being carried away from awareness by a song in our heads, we can try this practice. Become aware of our in-breath and out-breath. Become aware of the feeling of the warm water, the smell of the washing liquid, the experience of the task. Slow down. Focus on this task. When a thought arises, acknowledge it and return to the breath and the task. This is a soothing and deep practice.

Thay (pronounced 'Tie', which means 'Teacher' and is the nickname of Thich Nhat Hanh amongst his followers) calls such mundane tasks 'rites' because any such everyday task can become an opportunity for deep mindfulness and awareness. Anything we do can be a rite, a ceremony, an homage to the wonder and miracle of being alive.

In his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thay says,

If while washing dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not 'washing the dishes to wash the dishes'. What's more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes. In fact, we are completely incapable of realising the miracle of life while standing at the kitchen sink. If we can't wash the dishes, chances are we can't enjoy our cup of tea, either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future--and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life.

Here is a clip of Thay. Near the end of the clip, he shares his thoughts about washing the dishes in mindfulness. Please have a look!

Thich Nhat Hanh on Mindfulness

This notion of mindfulness can be applied to everything. It can help us slow down the whirling thoughts, worrying, scheming and distraction in our minds so that we can live this moment. After all, this moment is all we really have.

Everyday mindfulness is changing my life. I have started this blog because I want to share my thoughts on these things. I welcome comments from everyone.

Just now I've been blogging in order to blog. Now I'm off to work out in order to work out. May everything I do today be done in mindfulness.

May all beings be at ease.


Shelley said...

Carla, thank you for inviting me to view your blog. I will visit regularly to be sure. I love it! I love what you have to say, and I look forward to more! As I mentioned to you elsewhere, as I was washing dishes this very morning, I was trying to stay focused and present as you suggest. What a neat coincidence that you chose to write about that in your first post! Sat Nam, my friend!

Rebecca said...

Hi Carla! Thanks for asking us to look at your blog. I think it is excellent work and I look forward to reading more of it. This is all good stuff for me to read as I work on trying to balance my life.

blondeez said...

Hey there! I have this bookmarked at work so I'll be stopping by regularly, I hope. I like the name very much.

Anna said...

Hi Carla, love the new blog. We learn something new every day ... I had no idea you were into this stuff! I wouldn't say I'm into Buddhism per se, but I'm a very spiritual person myself, and I have read many books on the subject, including The Miracle of Mindfulness. Though it's been years, I'm sure it's still out on my bookshelf. Maybe I should read it again. It might help me get through a very difficult time I'm having right now. I will be back to visit your new blog often, and hope you'll still come find me from time to time.

Anna Down Under

Anna said...

Carla, I had to come back and comment on this first post again ... because I thought about it yesterday and really put it into practice!

See, I had gotten called in to work Sunday for 4.5 hours. So when I got home I kept thinking how am I going to get everything done and still have time to relax? Sunday is when we shop and attend to chores around the house, and since I'd worked, I would have little time left to have any relaxation after the work was done.

Then I decided to look at it a different way. While I was washing dishes, I decided to be 'mindful' of it. I paid attention to every step of the process. Same with doing the laundry, folding and putting things away. I relaxed, took a slow pace and was deliberately mindful of the entire process. Know what? I not only got all the work done, but the process itself was very relaxing! So I guess I didn't need to be worried about finding time to relax. Thanks so much for your blog!