‘A kitchen chore will often tether us to a place: the sink, the chopping board, the stove. This is a good thing. On the surface, this tethering may feel like a restriction but it’s actually really helpful to restrict our options sometimes. This is in part what seated meditation is all about: quieting the external distractions so we can turn our attention inward in order to see more clearly what is happening there. Standing at the stove or a sinkful of dishes, it is possible to touch some of this stillness and insight while still in the midst of activity, especially if the task is simple or repetitive or one we know very well. Like chopping celery or stirring a sauce.
Think of this chore-doing as time for integration, where we can fold in the experiences of the day and assimilate the lessons learned – the mistakes, the triumphs, and all the mundane stuff, too. Taking time to allow the day to settle and register like this is a key component to a happy, richly experienced life. Rushing through a dreaded chore just to get it done is a missed opportunity; relaxing into the rhythms of simple work and allowing the body and spirit to align after a busy day is golden.
This is how when you wash the dishes, the dishes also wash you.’ (Finding Yourself In The Kitchen)
I checked back to see if I had posted anything from this book before, and indeed I had – I was borrowing a copy for a while. Now I have my own copy, and I shall use it in teaching, since the lessons are gentle but worth absorbing. And since the previous posts were a while ago, here is what I wrote about Dana after the first quote:
Dana lived at City Center when I first arrived, and she was one of the people there whose presence and way of being encouraged me to trust the practice. She was so often kind, patient, generous, even if things weren’t going perfectly for her. I have a particularly fond memory of Sunday evenings around one of the tables in the dining room, where a group of us helped to sew a new okesa for Paul, I believe (it was the first zen sewing I had done, so I don’t think I was much help), while she read sections of Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.