Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice

Abstract

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. Implications for these findings are diverse and suggest that mindfulness as well as positive affect could be cultivated through intentionally engaging in a broad range of activities.

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Acknowledgments

The authors would like to extend a special thanks to Dr. Sandra Lewis for the use of the lab facilities.

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Correspondence to Adam W. Hanley.

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Hanley, A.W., Warner, A.R., Dehili, V.M. et al. Washing Dishes to Wash the Dishes: Brief Instruction in an Informal Mindfulness Practice. Mindfulness 6, 1095–1103 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-014-0360-9

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Keywords

  • Mindfulness
  • Well-being
  • Positive affect
  • Negative affect
  • Time perception
  • Dishwashing