Take a deep breath of mindfulness before you begin.

I am a great fan of Mindfulness though, unfortunately, not a particularly successful practitioner. Nevertheless, I keep trying. While surfing the news for something that wasn’t about politics, technology or economics I recently discovered a New York Times series called “Meditation for Real Life.” Who could be against that? Just last week while stuck in a traffic jam on I-84 with an impatient friend, I suggested that he might want to take up meditation to deal with his obvious irritation. He didn’t; I resolved to be mindful of my own business.

The essay about real-life meditation was called “How to Be Mindful Doing the Dishes.”   Whaaaat???  This is an example of one of the mindfulness guidelines: “Picking up the first dish, handle it with care. Observe its shape. Notice its weight.” As a person who has done the dishes nearly every day of my life since I was tall enough to reach the sink, I don’t give a damn about being mindful while washing dishes. I hate doing the dishes. I have always hated doing the dishes. The only thing I’m mindful of when washing dishes is that it is a seemingly endless chore.

The readers’ comments on the Times essay were fantastic. I encourage you to click the link and read them. This is my favorite, by W. Evans of Pennsylvania:

Take a deep breath before you begin. Exhale through your mouth.
OK, I can do that

  1.  Notice how your body feels, standing at the sink.
    Well, I’m 78 years old, so now that you mention it, the arthritis in my thumb hurts and the polyneuropathy in my right foot means that I can’t feel my right foot – I don’t know if it hurts.
  2.  As you run the warm water, feel it flowing across your hands.
    Our water heater is about 30 feet from the sink, so the water is cold and it’s taking forever to heat up
  3.  Picking up the first dish, handle it with care. Observe its shape. Notice its weight.
    Well, the dish looks just about same as it has looked for the last 10,000  washings. I did weigh one of the bowls once when I was trying to figure out how much cereal I was eating in the morning. (Oops – wandering, see 6 below.)
  4.  Starting to scrub, smell the soap and watch the bubbles foam.
    Well, we have a dish washer, but I do wash the Teflon pan and the copper bottom pan – have to remember to not use steel wool on these. Have to stay focused – don’t think about how warm the water is.
  5.  If you notice that your mind has wandered, bring your attention back to the warmth of the water.
    Please, the only way to get thru this is to let my mind wander. Did you see Brady on Sunday?  How did he ever hit that guy in the end zone?

Have a good week!





About Alexis

Alexis Rankin Popik, author of Kiss Me Over the Garden Gate, is an award-winning short story writer whose work has appeared in The Berkshire Review and Potpourri Magazine. She has penned numerous articles about local history that have been published in Connecticut Explored and the University of Connecticut School of Law and The Hartford Seminary publications. A former union organizer, Popik traveled the country educating shipyard workers about health and safety and founded a labor-management health plan before turning to writing fiction full-time. She lives with her husband in New England.
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