Updated: Aug 23, 2021
Yoga can be defined as union. I love the feeling when I have a sense of harmony, and wholeness. My body, my mind and my energy are moving at the same speed and toward the same purpose. I am connected directly to my focus or my purpose.
Sometimes my purpose is to empty the dishwasher. :/
If you hang around my house, you might hear me lament loudly about my dishwasher and kitchen duties. These duties often appear to be endless. I have a small European style dishwashing machine, and I seem to be standing over this appliance much of the day. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for this little miracle machine that makes my plates sparkle! I am completely aware that this is a first world problem. My reaction of frustration rightly proves that I am not always in the state of yoga.
The state of yoga allows us to cope and thrive through the ups and downs of life. When we are in the state of yoga, we let the external information come into our mind and consciousness but it does not consume us. When we are in the state of yoga, we have right actions. When we are in the state of yoga there is an efficiency and lightness that wells up in us. One has focus. A soft kind of focus that can overcome disruption, and the usual and unusual happenings of life.
When yoga happens and I am emptying a dishwasher, I notice nothing else around me. The only experience I am having is between me and my sparkling cutlery. I am unconcerned with an email I need to send or even a piece of dirt on the floor. These thoughts float by me to be brought back at a later time. I direct the plates, cups and bowls to their homes in their shelves and drawers. Here is where is gets interesting. With a soft eye, I notice how the plates and cups and bowls are stacked and my body/mind/breath are connected and attentive. Without consciously thinking, my body chooses a specific hand to pick up plates and stack them gracefully knowing the mixing spoon can go in the other hand and then there is no juggling or extra steps to get them to their homes.
I love how much joy I take in this little flow or vinyasa of movement and how the dishes, spoons and pots all find their way back to their places in the most effortless way. When I am in this state, I notice the dishwasher is emptied faster and I am calmer. This chore is very different when I am not in the state of yoga. I am rushing, stomping and, dare I say, grumbling. These times when I have something else on my mind – the experience is loud and inefficient.
I thought my “yoga of dishwashing” experience was something only I noticed. It so happened that I was hosting a visitors from overseas and she watched me while I cooked a breakfast for a house full of people. She said that she found it interesting to watch me work and she commented that no movement was wasted and each task was fluid and calm. The experience, she said, compared to watching a ballet and it was peaceful and efficient. We know it when we feel this, don’t we? Time flies by. We do not feel tired. She caught me on a good day. A day of yoga.
Being present can be heavy lifting but it is worth the practice. With this practice, we will be most efficient, most calm, and most happy. I invite you to watch yourself and others. Look for a connection. When you see it in others, you will feel calmer. When you focus on only the task in front at hand, you experience it yourself and you will feel more easeful and so will others around you. Start with the small things in your day. Focus on one thing and enjoy it. We are always pushing ourselves to work on the big stuff. Perhaps start with the small stuff like emptying the dishwasher, watering the plants, and grooming the dog to find that sweet connection.
Our yoga off the mat is the most important aspect of our practice. The little things add up. My wish is that you take time to cultivate and enjoy a time in yoga today.