Doing The Dishes

Confession; I like doing dishes. I find it very meditative.

I like doing them late at night, before bed, alone. I like the warmth of the water. I like the smell of the dish soap. I turn on our under-the-counter radio and listen to the BBC on Minnesota Public Radio. It is just me, the task at hand, and the news delivered calmly, with balance, and a proper tongue.

I perform each step in a particular, rarely wavering, order.

1. Unload the bottom rack of the dishwasher.
2. Unload the top rack of the dishwasher.
3. Rinse the dishwasher safe plates, glasses, and silver and load each in their proper place.
4. Fill the sink with soap.
5. Wash each item in order from cleanest to dirtiest.
6. Empty and rinse out the sink.
7. Wipe down the counters and oven.

I find solace in the structure of these actions performed rigidly so that my thinking is focused and somehow still. When my brain is relaxed in this way I find that my body follows suit.

I’m sure we all have tasks like this. Some of us weed the garden. Some of us knit. Some of us mow the lawn or shovel snow. These tasks that we get lost in almost by design due to their repetitive nature. In these times we drift into the order and let our minds go.

We often don’t think of these as moments of meditation but it often has the same mental and physical effect. We are busy doing nothing yet doing something all the same. The more we can identify these times of productive meditation, the more we can make sure to enjoy them for what they are.