– 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 one dirty dish starts to pile up and how that makes it easy for you or someone else to add another dish. As we go through our lives experiences, there are smaller and sometimes bigger things to digest and “clean up”. Otherwise, we end up with a sink full of dirty dishes that begins to snowball and build on itself. Unresolved feelings, stuffed down thoughts, old behaviors, old traumas, and completely untapped areas in all parts of ourselves. It takes a commitment to keep it clean, to hold a clean empty space for thoughts, feelings, emotions to show up, be felt and listened to. Keeping it clean can feel dirty sometimes and difficult and impatient. When those “dirty dishes” rise up to be heard, felt, seen, listened to they are not always easy to sit with. And, what they bring up within us can be just as difficult to hold a clean space for. But, the pay for keeping it clean is so worth it. A clean sink, a clear way of seeing, thinking and feeling.
When you clean things by hand you definitely notice the burn rate-the rate at which you go through, cups, bowls, plates, meals- both completely and partially eaten. Our burn rate was alarmingly high. I began to think I needed to label everyone’s glass with a permanent marker so they had one glass for the day rather than simply tossing the used cup into the dishwasher after one usage and grabbing another the next time they were thirsty. And, I definitely noticed a trend in asking for food that wasn’t completely consumed.
Our burn rate as a culture is also exceedingly high. What is up with us as needing to have the best, the most and then not taking care of it, not eating it all, using a plastic bag one time and throwing it away, tossing away uneaten food and even throwing away fruits and vegetables at the markets before they are even purchased b/c we have so much all the time. It’s so important that we pay attention to exactly what we need and how much we are wasting. When you are responsibly for cleaning it up with your own hands we are less likely to go through so many and so much.
Gratitude for your dishwasher
How many times do my husband and I “ro-sham-bo” over who is going to load and unload the dishwasher as it if it is a terrible job. That we even have a dishwasher to load and unload. That we have dirty dishes to rinse before the dishwasher does the real deep cleaning job for you. That we have a family of 4 to feed and take care of and that the routine of loading and unloading dishes from the dishwasher is a part of that enormous blessing.
It is so easy for our eyes to drift to the lack, and what isn’t quite right or what we wish we had (social media anyone?). Gratitude is possibly the most important spiritual practice right now. There is so much to be grateful for while we walk through this precious life. That we have the gift of this breath. That our heart is beating without us having to tell it to. All the love that is all around. That we open our eyes to what is right in front of us and see the beauty, perfection and abundance this is right in front of each and every one of us.