Day 14 • Washing Dishes Meditation

Lesson Progress:

Day 14 Meditation

Washing dishes can be a time of meditation each day. It tends to be an activity we do several times a day, one that we usually do while thinking through something rather than paying full attention. It is rarely an activity we enjoy all that much, but one we might in fact find more nuanced and interesting as we pay attention in a deeper way.

An ordinary chore actually becomes a time of stepping out of automatic pilot and reconnecting to yourself and the present moment.


Daily Inspiration


Daily Tip

Mindfulness is not simply becoming aware of the temperature of my cup of coffee or hearing my coworker’s fingers type on the keyboard. It includes these things. But most of us simply use the word “mindfulness” to suggest “knowing what’s going on.” The popularization of mindfulness mostly has to do with the particular benefits of this practice: when you more closely tune into the details of your life, you enjoy things so much more. You are more present with your experience: you smell the cup of tea you’re drinking as opposed to drinking tea while on a conference call, simultaneously checking email, and watching the TV on mute.

Mindfulness isn’t just about knowing that you’re hearing something, seeing something, or even observing that you’re having a particular feeling. It’s about doing so in a certain way — with balance and equanimity, and without judgment. Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention in a way that creates space for insight.


Question & Answer

Q: How do you know that you’re meditating?

A: The common assumption is that meditation is a state. It’s more skillful for us to see it as an activity.


Today's Blog

  • Day Fourteen – Washing…well…not dishes…garden tools among other things   Posted by RobH on Feb 14, 2020

    Today I had the opportunity to spend a little over an hour turning soil and fertilizing our rooftop garden at work. A few years ago a number of suggested that we begin using (at least) one of the large planters Read More

  • #RealHappiness Day 14   Posted by SueB on Feb 14, 2020

    Mindfulness and everyday chores helps to bring us back to the present, and not race off in our minds to other things that happened in the past or may happen in the future.  Being here and now while doing the Read More

  • Rub a dub dub   Posted by Tayler Wolfe on Feb 14, 2020

    I’m going to be honest. I hate washing dishes. If I could afford a dish washer, I would totally buy one. Because of this.I have never connected with this meditation. Today was no exception. I feel that I rush through Read More

  • Day 14-Resistance   Posted by jivani on Feb 14, 2020

    This was the hardest meditation of all so far. I felt immediate resistance and dread. Part of the resistance was the time. I did the dishes at 8:30 PM and I was tired by then. I usually go to bed Read More

  • Grapefruit   Posted by London on Feb 14, 2020

    I sat with a lot of dukkha today — or rather, tried to run from it. A lot of stress and anxiety about plans that remain up in the air. Wanting to control the future. I appreciated the washing dishes Read More

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Meditation Transcript

Welcome back. Washing dishes can be a time of meditation each day. It tends to be an activity we do several times a day, one that we usually do while thinking through something, rather than paying full attention and it is rarely an activity we enjoy much, but might in fact find more nuance and interesting as we pay attention.

As you stand in front of the sink, notice any emotions that arise. Impatience, weariness, contentment, whatever the thoughts or emotions, meet them with gentle acknowledgement as best you can. This is what’s happening right now. It’s okay. Bring your attention to the physical sensations you’re experiencing. What do you see as you look at the sink in terms of colors and shapes? As you put your hands in the water, notice the temperature of the water and the feeling of the soap or suds. Feel what it’s like to have water swooshing around your hands. Is it pleasant, unpleasant, neutral? What does it feel like to hold a dish or a glass? How heavy or light is it? What textures do you notice?

See if you can be in the present moment as you wash one item. Does it feel satisfying, boring? You may notice many judgements come up in your mind. I can’t focus for a minute of washing dishes. I hate washing dishes, whatever it might be. If your mind kicks into high gear and you’re feeling a rush to get through the dishes, see if you can take a few breaths and even if at a quicker pace, begin again and bring your attention to the sensations, the experience of washing dishes. You can allow thoughts to come and go. Simply return to the actual direct experience in the moment, just now. In this way, an ordinary chore actually becomes a time of stepping out of automatic pilot and reconnecting to yourself and the present moment.

This week has provided the opportunity to take the more stable attention we cultivated in the first week and expand it to include awareness of many kinds of physical experiences. We made the switch from an emphasis on concentration to an emphasis on mindfulness, a relational quality that frees our attention from the grip of old habits. Whether in sitting, walking, lying down or doing daily activities like drinking a cup of tea, we have explored our bodies as the domain of mindfulness. See you next week where we’ll be focusing on mindfulness of thoughts and emotions.

The 2020 Real Happiness Challenge is sponsored by Happify. Happify offers Science-based activities and games to reduce stress and worry.

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May all beings be happy ♡