Meditation: If you are washing the dishes, just wash the dishes

By Stacy Fassberg

Any moment in which we are one with the experience may be defined as meditation. Once you make a conscious effort to focus your attention, with acceptance and openness, any experience is an invitation for meditation: jogging and focusing your attention on the movement of your muscles, washing the dishes and focusing your attention on the feeling of water on your skin, or combining both by swimming and keeping your attention focused on your body as it cuts through the water. The nature of the activity does not matter; what matters is the quality of your consciousness (focused and non-analytical). Remember, if you think about past or future events while you jog, wash the dishes or swim – you are not meditating, because your mind is processing thoughts that are pulling you away from the experience itself. A wandering mind is an essential factor in breaking “oneness”, the idea of being one with the moment. Whenever you direct your attention at a certain activity without analysing it you become one with it. Every bit of your attention is focused on that object and you become united, on an experiential level, with whatever it is that you are doing. This is a union of your awareness and the activity. This union is lost when your mind interferes by reacting; your awareness is then pulled away from the activity itself to thinking about it. Thinking about something does not mean being with it. Being and thinking are fundamentally different. Being only means experiencing the moment, without thinking. If the moment is an invitation to dance, and you move your body freely, all you are is that flow of movement that does not have to make any sense as it is free and natural. That is when you are one with the moment, with the activity. Your awareness and the activity are united. You are the dance, and nothing else exists. But if your mind interferes with the dance, it pulls your awareness away from the experience and breaks the union. You are no longer one with the dance; you are thinking about the dance rather than meditating.


Exactly what is the meaning of being one with the moment? This means that you are completely one with whatever you do – when you wash the dishes, for example, all you do is washing the dishes – you do not think about, wish for, dream of, or remember anything else. Many of us spend most of our time without being one with our experiences. We sit for a cup of tea and think about the report we must write, we sit down to write the report and picture the dishes that have to be washed, we wash the dishes and think over the conversation we are going to have with a friend, we talk with our friend and dream of having a quiet cup of tea. This is absurd: the moments constantly invite us to experience them for what they are, and we seem to consistently reject the invitation and wander elsewhere. What really happens is that we get lost in our own mind. Letting go of the chain of thoughts that follow the activity, and simply focusing our attention and diving into the experience opens an alternative way of being, the meditative one.

Written by Dr Itai Ivtan