Posted by: aboutalbion | March 10, 2015

In praise of washing up: ‘T’ai Chi’ or ‘Faire la vaiselle’

I like doing the dishes by hand, and I experience the whole ritual of manual washing and drying as therapeutic.  But I have often been challenged and teased about my preference.

‘Why don’t you use the dishwasher in your apartment?’, is the sentiment of a lot of the remarks coming my way, together with advice to spend the time saved on a more worthwhile activity, such as T’ai Chi.  And these comments are made with such a strong belief that a dishwasher is a perfect and infallible machine.  Really …?

I use a big ‘thunderbox’ of a commercial dishwasher in one of my voluntary roles in a large kitchen in the local community, and my experience is that a manual pre-wash is the best predictor of stain-free dishes at the end of the machine cycle.

But wait a minute …

Those who turn their backs on the relaxation of manual washing and drying up, and counsel me to do the same … are some of the same people who invite me to join them for a session of T’ai Chi under the direction of a ‘grand master’?

I’m thinking to myself that the exercises in the practice of T’ai Chi are rather like the movements involved in washing and drying up … minus the soothing immersion of the hands in warm water, of course …?

So far as I can see at the moment, the benefits of the practice of T’ai Chi are about the same as the benefits of my slow, graceful repetitive movements in my washing and drying up ritual.  I keep my spine as straight as possible, and pay attention to my abdominal breathing.  The heat of the warm water encourages my natural energy to flow around my body, and I enjoy feelings of balance and poise and emotional calmness and mental clarity as the session unfolds.

I find that I have no desire to substitute the therapeutic benefits of manual washing and drying up for the rather expensive (and alternative) practice of T’ai Chi.


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