November 7th, 2015| Topic: RaMbLeS | 2


They say that it begins when you sink into his arms and after that you’re stuck with your arms in the sink.

That may not be a bad thing after all, if researchers are to be believed. (And better than using your dishwasher, too.)

“Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice” is the title of their article in Mindfulness. Authors—from Florida State University and affiliated with the Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City—claim that doing dishes relieves stress.

But you have to do it the right way: taking in the scent of the soap and being aware of the temperature of the water. And when you do, you apparently experience increased feelings of inspiration and decreased feelings of nervousness. But only if you do it that way. It’s all about the approach. If you are not mindful about how you are doing it, the dishes might get done, but you will remain uninspired and nervous!

Said study author Adam Hanley, a doctoral candidate in FSU College of Education’s Counseling/School Psychology program:

I was particularly interested in how the mundane activities in life could be used to promote a mindful state and, thus, increase overall sense of well-being.”

A bunch of 51 college students (!) were coralled to wash dishes either mindfully or unmindfully. Before this cleansing endeavor, the former group read a passage on mindfulness while dish-washing; the latter read some descriptive lines about dish-washing.

Part of the passage on dish-washing mindfulness, written by a Thich Nhat Hanh, read:

While washing the dishes one should only be washing the dishes, which means 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 wondrous reality. I am completely myself, 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.”

“Wondrous reality” of washing dishes? I think I’ll stick to Styrofoam, thank you. You have heard it said:

One Lord, one faith, one baptism.
Ephesians 4:5

But I say unto you:

One fork, one spoon, one plate.”

… for everything. Preferably Styrofoam.

But I digress.

At any rate, the scientists found that the mindful, Thich Nhat Hanh-reading dishwashers had “an increased feeling of inspiration by 25 percent, and decreased nervousness levels by 27 percent.” The poor, unmindful dish-washing wretches experienced no such exalted feelings.

So, it seems, an appropriate mindset can turn even mundane activities into stress relieving exercises.

Maybe I should give up my Styrofoam, and take to dish-washing.

Men, especially, should take up that chore, since it is biblically expected.

And I [God] will stretch over Jerusalem the line of Samaria,
and the plummet of the house of Ahab:
and I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth a dish,
wiping it, and turning it upside down.
2 Kings 21:13 KJV

Yup, I’d better start engaging in this scripturally mandated undertaking. It might keep my blood pressure low, too.

Of course, as the authors say …

Implications for these findings are diverse and suggest that mindfulness as well as positive affect could be cultivated through intentionally engaging in a broad range of activities.”

In any case, mindful or not, “wondrous reality” or not …

Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.
Colossians 3:23


  1. Eric Fan November 8, 2015 at 5:44 am

    I have indeed found that after a long stressful day of work, washing dishes is quite a good way to relax. It takes my mind off the mental challenges and I am rewarded with a rack of clean, carefully organized dishes. 🙂 It gets even better if I reflect on Jesus washing the disciples’ feet or the principle of serving to love. I have been reflecting on the latter much these days. It is so easy to do something I enjoy doing. But if I spend much time on it, it is good to ask if I do it out of love for God and/or His people.


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