Fun fact: I like washing dishes.
In light of current events, I’ve found myself doing it much more than usual. However, I’ve never really been able to explain why I’ve enjoyed it so much but I’ve felt there is something relaxing and even meditative about it.
Adam Hanley randomized two groups of college kids and had half read Thich Nhat Hanh’s instructions for mindful dish-washing while the others read simple, mechanical instructions.
After the students washed the dishes, members of the group that had read mindfulness teachings reported having a better experience, a joyful experience, and had lost track of time.
Hanley’s study was published in 2014. Some notes from the abstract are below:
This study sought to investigate whether washing dishes could be used as an informal contemplative practice, promoting the state of mindfulness along with attendant emotional and attentional phenomena. We hypothesized that, relative to a control condition, participants receiving mindful dishwashing instruction would evidence greater state mindfulness, attentional awareness, and positive affect, as well as reduce negative affect and lead to overestimations of time spent dishwashing. A sample of 51 college students engaged in either a mindful or control dishwashing practice before completing measures of mindfulness, affect, and experiential recall. Mindful dishwashers evidenced greater state mindfulness, increases in elements of positive affect (i.e., inspiration), decreases in elements of negative affect (i.e., nervousness), and overestimations of dishwashing time.