Wash the dishes to wash the dishes

The last few months have been horrid on my health. My anxiety has progressively become worse with each day, and the events of the past few weeks have thrown me into a monster flare up with my arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Last night, after a day full of a screaming child (literally screaming…) I saw a post on facebook about washing the dishes to wash the dishes. Intrigued? I was.

The more I read the post, the more I realised that it was just what I needed to read at that exact moment (well, it would have been better earlier than 10:30pm and before a bottle of wine.. šŸ˜‰ ), but it gave me so much food for my heavy, hurting soul.

Today I put it into action from the moment I woke.

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While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means that while washing the dishes one should be completely aware of the fact that one is washing the dishes. At first glance, that might seem a little silly:

Why put so much stress on a simple thing? But that’s precisely the point. The fact that I am standing there and washing these bowls is a following my breath, conscious of my presence, and conscious of my thoughts and actions. There’s no way I can be tossed around mindlessly like a bottle slapped here and there on the waves.

Thich Nhat Hanh isĀ  a buddist monk, and this is from his book The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation.

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This is purely an act of mindfulness and focusing on what you are doing in that moment, not worrying about getting something done as quickly as possible because there is so much more to be done.

This morning, instead of waking and going straight out to make a cup of tea, and grunting good morning at Max, I picked up Harley, we cuddled, tickled, and then got into the shower. When I undressed him, I talked through each step with him, and when he became frustrated, I stopped, reassured him, and he soothed immediately.

Lately I had been all about expectations and the amount of things that I had to do – housework, mountains of washing, feeding, work, study, mothering, blogging, living.

Harley had become increasingly difficult for me to handle – hour long (and longer..)tantrums (day and night), the separation anxieties were monstrous, hitting me in the face, sleep refusal – so this morning, as I altered our routine, I also altered my reactions, and my way of working through the situation.

The outcome was a babe that was happy to have a shower without screaming, he laughed when he was getting undressed and helped me to do the same. He had breakfast without throwing it on the floor, got into his carseat with only a small squeal of dissatisfaction (normally he becomes rigid, screams and throws himself out of the seat), we went to the park and he played, swung, climbed and ate bark, and when he started to throw himself down, my response was softer and he came home and went down for a nap without a tantrum.

Our kids are not the spawn of Satan, and therefore there has obviously been a more deep-seated reason for the acting out and boundary pushing that has become a part of their personalities.

They have been feeding from my being, and my anxieties were clearly being “worn” like a trench coat.

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I felt more present in the moments of this morning, and although I am exhausted, I also feel incredibly peaceful.

I have missed this feelingĀ – content, calm, and present.

This is a practice I will continue, as it is required in every day life, in every action we take part in.

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