Wash the dishes to wash the dishes

We are often told in Yoga that it is important to be mindful, especially if we are learning to meditate, but what is mindfulness?  Thich Nhat Hanh, in his book “The Miracle of Mindfulness“, explains it best with a simple anecdote about washing the dishes.  He says that there are two ways to wash the dishes.  The first is to wash the dishes in order to get clean dishes.  The second is to wash the dishes in order to wash the dishes.  This is mindfulness.  Profound?  Maybe.  But, as Thich Nhat Hanh explains, if the whole time we are washing the dishes we are thinking about the cup of tea that we’re going to have when we finish the dishes, we are not really present or alive during the time that we are washing the dishes.  And, if we can’t really “wash the dishes” then we probably won’t be able to really drink or enjoy our cup of tea because we’ll be thinking about the next thing that we’re going to do after that.  Without mindfulness this cycle of always looking forward to the future makes us incapable of really living or enjoying any moment of our life.  Practicing mindfulness brings us back to the present, and allows us to really experience each moment.  So, the next time you find yourself at the sink, practice some mindfulness and try to really “wash the dishes to wash the dishes”.


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