Live Now: Just Do the Dishes!

Become mindful of how often your conversations focus on the past or future.

Be aware of the verbs you use: was, did, will, are going to, etc. To speak of the past in the present is to reawaken and recreate it fully in the present, if only in our minds, and then we are lost to what is present for us now. To speak of the future is to create and live with a fantasy.

If you want to experience fear, think of the future.

If you want to experience shame and guilt, think of the past.

Just focus on the dishes in front of you.

“Doing the dishes” is a practice of learning to love the action that is in front of you. Your inner voice or intuition guides you all day long to do simple things such as doing the dishes, driving to work, or sweeping the floor. Allow the sanctity of simplicity. Listening to your inner voice and then acting on its suggestions with implicit trust creates a life that is more graceful, effortless, and miraculous.

The miracle of now.

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20 comments

  1. At the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland (where I first heard of The Work), they say: “work is love in action”. I love that doing the dishes can be an act of love….and I see that both “work” and “The Work” are, truly, love in action!

  2. Just read a comment from a Brian about doing the dishes. Before I did the dishes I had breakfast. It was a breakfast at the front end of a busy day so I thought of so many useful things I could do while having my fruit and cereal. But instead, I just ate my brakfast. Nothing else. It was so good. Just as good as doing the dishes! Thanks for all you do and for all your insights and help. Brian

  3. Isn’t it marvelous how the truth finds its way to the surfaces of our experience. Years ago, I wrote about what I called, The Holy Church of Take-Out-the-Trash. There was only one commandment in this church – just take out the trash. Do the Dishes is another wonderful version of this idea and I’m so happy you have been able present it in such a thoughtful and useful way.

    The WORK that you describe is a marvelous miracle of reality. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. I always love Katie for giving herself to us through The Work. It only changed my life. It’s been 5 years and I still use The Work everyday because it’s the way I think. The Work reminds me to stay present and at peace..beautiful!
    Love, Phil

  5. Kate you are the real deal. I love you and your books have helpd me tremendously. I have been lucky enough to have an Authentic Kung fu teacher who taught fro Taoist and Buddhist text that spoke of the physchology of the mind – and Body. Feeling through questioning ones thought was a large part of his teaching. However he unlike you made his teaching available to the public for very resonable fees. This is what I see to be your only flaw – money. Of course what you teach is worth it – to those who can afford it, but what about hose who cannot?

    You are the best,

    Love

    Phil Baker

  6. Phil Baker,

    I don’t think you know Byron Katie well enough to say that she’s doing this for the money. In fact, I’m offended. Thanks to The Work (and a few deep breaths) I’ll let this slide off my back.

    Seriously though, Byron Katie has always been there for those without the means. She has always had an open door – offering scholarships to The School, even giving away her copyrighted work on her website- http://www.thework.com.

    Byron Katie is not doing this for the money. Of that I’m sure. When was the last time the Dalai Lama went to speak to the poor souls in San Quentin?

    Heck, there are “coaches” out there who charge $1000 to do a few hours of The Work with you- and you can do the same from Byron Katie for free.

  7. I have been married for 6 years and have uncountable times argued with my husband over the cleaning, the dishes, the vacuuming and whatnot to the point where I have seriously considered divorcing him thinking that my life would be so much easier if I didn´t have to nag and pick up his stuff.

    Even during sex I have been thinking “So who´s going to do the dishes after dinner? It´s definately his turn, why doesn´t he get that I would be so much happier if he just picked up his damn socks or vacuum without me asking him to”. These thoughts just consumed me, so one day I did The Work. For real this time. I had known about The Work for a year or so, had tried it several time but I was sceptic, now I understand that I was fastforwarding, I wanted freedom of mind immediately, I cheated. So it didn´t really work for me. But this time I was so fed up with my thoughts, I was going crazy over the situation and at the same time I was so determined to find the solution and somehow I knew it was within me.

    So I did The Work: “I am so fed up with Jonas and I am sick of telling him to pick up his filthy stuff”… and oh Allahu Akbar! The wonderful truth just unfolded – I was so sick and tired and fed with myself and telling myself to pick up his and my filthy stuff! I should do just like him – kick off my shoes, lay in front of the tv, have some chocolate cake and chill! I just laughed and laughed and for the first time in my life I felt free. Totally free to just be.

    Love love love
    Ayda

  8. I have been married for 6 years and have uncountable times argued with my husband over the cleaning, the dishes, the vacuuming and whatnot to the point where I have seriously considered divorcing him thinking that my life would be so much easier if I didn´t have to nag and pick up his s***. Even during sex I have been thinking “So who´s going to do the dishes after dinner? It´s definately his turn, why doesn´t he get that I would be so much happier if he just picked up his damn socks or vacuum without me asking him to”. These thoughts just consumed me, so one day I did The Work. For real this time. I had known about The Work for a year or so, had tried it several time but I was sceptic, now I understand that I was fastforwarding, I wanted freedom of mind immediately, I cheated. So it didn´t really work for me. But this time I was so fed up with my thoughts, I was going crazy over the situation and at the same time I was so determined to find the solution and somehow I knew it was within me. So I did The Work: “I am so freaking fed up with Jonas and I am sick of telling him to pick up his filthy stuff”… and oh Allahu Akbar! The wonderful truth just unfolded – I was so sick and tired and fed with myself and telling myself to pick up his and my filthy stuff! I should do just like him – kick off my shoes, lay in front of the tv, have some chocolate cake and chill! I just laughed and laughed and for the first time in my life I felt free. Totally free to just be.
    Love love love
    Ayda

  9. Life has a way of showing us the way if we just pay attention. I have been feeling overwhelmed and anxious. It was my goal today after work to just put my laundry away. Nothing else. Focus on that one task. It was not so overwhelming to just focus on that one task. Completing that one task helped me feel not so overwhelmed and could then focus my attention on the next thing. It was AFTER I had an evening of this that I came across this posting about dishes. I think I just need to trust myself more!

  10. Dear Katie:
    I love this stuff! I’m in AA and sponsor several young ladies and we do the work on everybody and everything just to be clear exactly what reality is. We are no longer confused as to what the will of God is for each and everyone of us. It is so simple that it takes awhile to get used to it because the mind really loves to complicate things and when it can’t it loves to complain about how simple life really and truly is.
    You’re a real life saver Katie and I am so greatful I found you!

    Love,
    Carla

  11. Hi katie, I love the simplicity of ‘the work’, I love your gift to the world, and how delightful it is to do the dishes with love and without thought. I’ve been doing ‘the work’ on everything, and now ask of the turnaround: “is it true?”. This is such a funny thing to do – it blows every thought out of the water.
    with gratitude & love, vicki

  12. H. Richard Niebuhr named this you are describing… “pure activity”.
    No separate action ( verbs), no separate doer ( nouns and pronouns)
    No need to indicate that there is an ego with a story who needs to have
    an audience! Remember the old line “I am nobody, who are you. Are
    you nobody too?”

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