The Mindful Dishwasher

Soaps and suds coat a dishwasher’s hands while his mind lapses into a state of calmness, according to a new study published in the journal Mindfulness. Researchers from Florida State University studied people as they washed dishes and found there’s a trick to turning it into a stress reliever. The findings demonstrate how a simple household chore can ease the mind.

Researchers studied 51 college students to wash dishes. Before the cleaning began, each participant read a brief dish washing passage written by Thich Nhat Hanh, a poet-writing Buddhist monk who advocates for peace. They were told to really smell the soap and sense the water temperature.

“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,” Hanh wrote. “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 is a wondrous reality. I’m being 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.”