– What My Broken Dishwasher Taught Me About Yoga
I walked into the kitchen in the morning and usually my husband Joel is emptying the dishwasher as part of our morning routine. But, on this particular day, the dishwasher was clearly broken and was visibly in several pieces and he was standing over it with a screwdriver. My immediate reaction was almost panic since as a family of 4 we seem to easily fill up one dishwasher each day. So, I took a deep breath and went right into making breakfast and lunches for the day….and making dirty dishes.
As we were getting ready to leave for the day, I knew that I should go ahead and clean all the dishes so that they didn’t start to pile up, but instead of doing that I just lightly rinsed them and put them in the larger part of my 2-part sink. “I’ll come back to them later when I have more time,” I thought to myself. When I came back for lunch, I was in a bit of a hurry again to get to “pick up”, so I made myself lunch and put the dirty plate, bowl and silverware in the sink with the other dirty dishes. It was an easier choice this time, since there were already dirty dishes in the sink. “I’ll clean them all later,” I thought.
When I returned from after school activities with my kiddos, it was what we call “hungry time” and they of course wanted a late afternoon snack, while I emptied their lunch boxes and water bottles. All of those dirty plates, lunches boxes, water bottles, went into the sink with the other items “to be washed later”. By the time I was cooking dinner, there was an overflowing pile of dirty dishes and more on their way soon.
Do the dirty work now
It’s easy to see in retrospect that cleaning the dishes from the mornings breakfast would have helped to stay on top of the dirty dishes, and keep the sink clean. But, of course, I had every valid excuse in the book as to why we were late, there was no time, I’d get to it later, and maybe even subconsciously, miraculously if I didn’t do anything different that somehow the dishes would become clean.
And, sometimes when there’s totally disgusting, partially eaten food stuck on plates, topped with other plates with partially eaten foods stuck on them we don’t tend to associate going in to clean them up with our greatest bliss. And maybe it’s not our greatest bliss to clean up, but doing the dirty work is obviously just necessary. Let’s face it we didn’t, then we’d have dirty dishes, ants, rats and overflowing trash sitting around otherwise. Learning how to see the cleaning part as a necessary, joyful regular routine that keeps you clean, clear and ready for what’s next can be very grounding and beautiful
All the practices in yoga – pranayama (breath work), asana (physical practices), drishti (what we gaze at both internal and external), bhandas (locks in the body to help clear out congested, denser areas), meditation, neti potting, tongue scraping, etc. – are there to help us clean out the old, stuck, congested, dense areas in our bodies our minds and our hearts so that we can be in our bodies in a cleaner, purer, more equanimous way. So, that we can clear out old, repetitive thoughts that muddy up our thinking. And, with this clarity really connect in to the longing within our own hearts, our hearts deepest intention and what we want to feel, experience, offer out into the world. With these practices, we are able to step forth with a clean foundation from which we can flow out into the world.
Of course the dirty dishes in the sink are just a metaphor for how we keep our bodies, minds and hearts clean. Often, we think that we will take care of our bodies later, whether it is tending to a work out, an injury, feeling difficult unresolved feelings, insomnia or whatever other message/feeling/sensation our beings are sending to us. But, if we ignore these messages or just don’t give space to listen, digest, clean up then they can begin to pile up and become more difficult to manage and sort through. Or, maybe we just don’t want to change our behavior and are hopeful that if we continue to do what we are doing we will get a different result. This of course, it what Einstein pinpointed as the actual definition of insanity. [maybe we are all a little bit insane?]
Keep it clean
Its easy to put more dirty dishes in a sink that’s already full of dirty dishes.
Life is making us dirty dishes all the time. Notice when