Mamaste Challenge: Meditate While Washing Dishes {yes, really}

you-do-have-timeI like to call Gabby Bernstein my "gateway drug" to meditation. Even though I was a kids yoga teacher and would try to teach meditation to the kids in my classes, I would usually pretend like I didn't "have" the time to meditate. It wasn't until I started reading more of Gabby's stuff that I came across the one sentence that really jolted me into making the time to meditate and be mindful. Gabby said that whenever people tell her they don't have time to meditate, she responds with "Well, do you have time to feel like sh*t?". And seriously in that moment when I first read that sentence, it clicked. I could complain about how stressed I felt, how overwhelmed I would feel, and I could continue to do nothing about it, or I could make it a priority and do something (click here to read a great piece by Gabby about this).

For me, admitting that I wasn't actually giving myself enough time was the first step. But let's face it, with five kids and a work from home job it is pretty accurate that I don't have a lot of time (read more about that here). But, I could still find the time, if I wanted to, and I realized not only did I want to, I needed to. Like now.

Before I started trying to develop a meditation practice, I started with mindfulness, which I feel is like meditation's little sister. The great thing about mindfulness is that you can literally do it anywhere, any time, and it will enrich whatever it is you are experiencing at the moment, even doing the dishes. Don't believe me? Try this next time you're facing a sink full of sippy cups and Paw Patrol plates.

First, don't procrastinate about doing the dishes (or insert any chore here that needs to get done). It has to get done, so whining about it just makes it worse for you and whoever is at the receiving end of the whining. Think about all the energy that you expend just avoiding these things too rather than the amount of energy it takes to just do them. For me I think about all of the times I will move a full laundry basket around my bedroom. On the bed, off the bed, onto the chair, next to the chair, digging through it, putting the clean clothes back. Maybe would be just easier to PUT IT AWAY? Yes. So, just do it, Nike style.

Next, really just be in the moment. I know what you're thinking, "Why would I want to be in the moment of washing dishes?" And the answer is simple, that moment is a moment of your life. So feel the warm water on your hands, find a way to enjoy the experience of making something dirty clean again, find an appreciation in the fact that you have these children you love that you get to care for and washing dishes is just one little part of that caring. Don’t focus on finishing or what you’ll do when you’re finished. Just focus on the actual doing.

This excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh in his book The Miracle of Mindfulness really says it all:

To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur only when you aren’t doing them…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 of washing dishes will be unpleasant and not worth living.  That would be a pity, for each minute, each second of life is a miracle.”

Sounds a little crazy, I know, to savor each moment of doing the dishes. But, would you rather hate that moment, or just let go and try to enjoy it? When you realize you have the choice, why would you choose complaining?

An easier way to try this mindfulness is in the shower. For some of us parents, that is really the only alone time we have (full disclosure sometimes I have to shower with the baby seriously so I know about how precious showers can be, TRUST ME). Don't just rush through it (wash hair, wash face, think about shaving legs, decide not to shave legs because really who wants to do that right now), make the shower a moment of meditation for you. Pick out a soap or an essential oil that you love the scent of, focus on the water running down your back, the temperature of the water, the thickness of the shower steam, whether it's at the beginning of the day or the end of the day, just focus on being there in the water, not thinking about the day behind you or ahead of you.

Here's another little thing to ponder next time you're in the shower. Have you ever heard of negative ions? Negative ions are odorless, tasteless, and invisible molecules that are generated by moving water – rivers, waterfalls, crashing waves, even showers and fountains. Once they reach our bloodstream, negative ions are believed to produce biochemical reactions that increase levels of the mood chemical serotonin, helping to alleviate depression, relieve stress, and boost our daytime energy. And just like with a waterfall, moving water is moving water, and showers do a good job of producing negative ions in their own right, so while you are taking a shower next time visualize these negative ions that are improving your mood, increasing serotonin, and improving the state of your bed head all at the same time.

So try it, today. Pick one thing, be it folding laundry or taking a shower or doing the dishes, and find that mindful place. I guarantee it will make whatever chore you have to do easier to get through, because you will be making that moment of your life worthwhile.