Weekend Meditation: Washing-up Buddha

We've long admired the Poet Laureate columns on our sister home site, and in that vein we now welcome Dana Velden to our weekends in The Kitchn. Dana lives in San Francisco and will contribute meditations on kitchen, home, and hospitality. Welcome Dana!

It's an interesting experiment to occasionally challenge our assumptions about what is a pleasurable activity and what is pure drudgery. Washing the dishes is a classic let's-get-this-over-with task. We've even invented a machine to do this for us, which basically just creates a new chore as we endlessly load and unload the beast.

But imagine this: lingering over a sink full of warm, fragrant bubbles, maybe listening to Bach or some old-school reggae or a favorite soundtrack as thoughts and the long, crazy day disappear down the drain. Sounds kind of nice, yes?

It's also a great time to hang out with your sweetie, talking about the day or planning your next dance party as the rhythms of wash/rinse/dry and the limbic resonance of shared activity stitch together an ordinary but precious intimacy.

Children, casual guests and good friends all make good washing-up companions, too. And if you're a monk type, there's always the cultivation of in-the-moment satori as you carefully wash your one bowl, one fork (in silence and with unscented soap, of course.)

In the Zen vernacular, when you wash the dishes, the dishes also wash you. In other words, when you completely give over to the task at hand, something is unwound, revealed, opened up. It's not about making everything perfect and scrubbed clean. It's more like allowing something a little more wild and mysterious and unknown to come forward. Everyday life holds just as much possibility for this as any ashram or meditation hall, it just takes a willingness to engage the moment without any ideas around how it should be.

There's a beautiful practicality here as well because, those dishes? They may wash you but they won't wash themselves. So roll up your sleeves, take a breath and plunge in completely.

(Photo: Dana Velden for The Kitchn. Dana says: These photos are taken of my collection of teeny tiny Buddhas that preside over my kitchen sink. )

This post is by Dana, a weekend contributor of meditations on kitchen, home, and hospitality. Welcome Dana!