You can meditate anywhere!
I want to share with you how to meditate while you’re working:
- Around the house
- Around the yard
- At a construction site
- In a warehouse
- In the kitchen
- Where-the-hell-ever you happen to be working!
In this article and video, we’ll drill down on specific tasks like cleaning, gardening, and mowing the lawn. You will learn to meditate in two different ways while doing manual work.
You have lots of choices when it comes to where, when, and how to meditate.
We’ll focus on how to meditate during manual tasks. If you’d rather do it while studying calculus or organic chemistry or while doing your taxes, then I’ll refer you to the free course at the homepage of DeeperMeditation.net or click “Main Site” in the menu.
In THAT training, you can learn the practice of interweaving. That is, taking short breaks for interweaves.
Interweaves can be a couple minutes, or a few minutes, per hour of breathing exercises, prayer, gratitude offerings, and various meditation techniques.
Combining meditation with manual work like housework, yardwork, vacuuming, cleaning, and the like, is what we’re covering here in THIS video/article.
That Time I Transformed a Tedious Industrial Temp Job Into Meditative Bliss
A thousand years ago, I went to a LaborReady for some work.
Usually those jobs were for construction cleanup, but there were other types of work, too.
One day, I was sent to a pool chemicals company. My job was to wash a bunch of empty plastic containers with soap and water. I think they were about five gallons.
This was a very relaxing and non-strenuous task.
Without the right attitude, I would have dreaded showing up every day for those three weeks or so. It would have been tedius and downright sucky.
Thankfully, I was looking for a meditation opportunity and found an awesome one. It was so much more joyful that way. I loved that job, even though it paid crap.
It was way cooler than riding on the back of that crazy lawn debris truck after a rainstorm soaked everyone’s lawn debris and made it pretty damn heavy.
The worst moment on THAT job was lunch break. We stopped at a convenience store. I bought a soda and a microwave burrito or something.When I walked outside, I took three sips. Then the driver walked out and said, “Are you ready?”
I chucked the soda and the burrito in the garbage and jumped back onto the back of the truck.If you work one of THOSE jobs, I can’t help you too much. Maybe a little.Going back to the pool chemical buckets…
There were no bosses in that entire building. No one was micromanaging anything. Breaks were scheduled, but not strict.
So, what did I do to turn that job into a meditation?
How to Meditate While Working, Cleaning, Raking, Scrubbing, or Whatever: Method 1
I focused on what I was doing. That was step 1.
More specifically, I focused on:
- The physical sensations of the task
- My breathing
Physical sensations included:
- Feelings in the hands while scrubbing
- Soap texture
- The water as felt through the rubber gloves
- The sensation of breathing
- Feelings in the arms, legs, lower back & waist while lifting the buckets
- Movement as felt in various muscles
I DID NOT regulate the pace or depth of breathing.
I DID regulate the pace of the task. It wasn’t fast enough to make me all huffy puffy and winded. It wasn’t slow either. It was a steady tempo.
When thoughts came up and pulled some attention away from the task, I did not judge that. The thoughts were happening INSIDE of the present moment, not outside of it. They existed in the moment, and they were OK.
When it occurred to me that I was trying to focus on the task, the attention went right back to the task. Specifically, the breath and body sensations.
The color of the containers/buckets (I like the word “buckets” better) was a very deep blue. That actually helped with concentration, too. It was kind of a standard color, but it was beautiful.
Despite the apparently repetitive nature of the work, each moment was new and fresh. Each bucket was new and fresh.
No two buckets were the same, and no two strokes of the sponge were the same. The more absorbed you become in the activity, the deeper your experience of it is. That allows you to see and feel the subtle distinctions between those strokes, between those breaths, and between those muscle sensations.
The deeper the experience of the work, the less boring that work is.
You have lots of opportunities to feel and listen:
- Soap Water
- Water temperature
- Sponge texture
- Faucet and/or sprayer sounds
- Hand movement
- Upper body muscle sensations
- Your breathing
The Drilldown on Specific Tasks & Chores That Can Become Meditation Practices
1. WASHING DISHES
This isn’t much different than the bucket washing description in a section above.
2. PULLING WEEDS
Plenty of sensations, smells & sights here:
- Feelings in multiple muscle groups
- Knees/feet on the dirt or kneeling pad
- Texture of weeds Texture of soil
- Beauty of the flowers or crops
- Smell of the flowers or crops
- Your breathing
3. MOWING THE LAWN
This is mainly listening & feeling:
- Feelings in feet, legs & most other muscles
- Sound of the mower
The volume of the sound may heighten stress levels a bit. Don’t worry about it. You probably won’t have much trouble concentrating on it, right?
Making a meditation out of it will be far less stressful than mumbling to yourself, “OMG, this is too loud. I want it to end.”
If it helps any, you can prepare for the lawnmower meditation in advance by doing gratitude work. Give thanks for your amazing yard and house, and all the things you’re able to do in your yard and house.
That prep work just might make it easier to work with the noise…
With the beautiful mower sound.
4. CHOPPIN’ BROCCOLAY (& OTHER VEGETABLES & PLANT PARTS)
This will provide sounds & a lot of sensations.
Cutting through a thin stalk will feel different than cutting through a thick stalk or hacking up the crown.
I like the smell of broccoli.
If you’re looking for a real challenge, onions are great for that.
Feel the burn! And don’t break the knife!
Are you getting the gist of all this?
Apply the above to ironing, vacuuming, dusting, and whatever other chores you can think of.
Method 2: Put Your Mantra to Work
If you’re doing work that’s fairly mindless, mantras are great.
They’re not the best workers. They can be quite lazy unless you put them to work. I used mantras when working in gas stations.
I didn’t do it when customers or coworkers were there or during administrative tasks.
This was something I saved for cleaning, changing out the coffee, stocking cups, sweeping, fronting and facing shelf and cooler items, and other relatively non-cerebral tasks.
I have created other videos and blog posts for that, and an entire book. I also cover it in the free course at the DeeperMeditation.net homepage.
Going back to the gas stations:
As I wrote in the appendix chapter of Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course (book), one goal was to end each shift with more energy than what I started with.
The strategy usually worked.
What is a mantra?
A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat out loud or silently.
You can sing it, think it, or say it… over and over again.
A mantra can be spiritually or religiously significant (like a line of a hymn), secular, inspiring, or even nonsensical.
Just like the stroke of a sponge, each repetition of the mantra is new and different. Each is 100% unique, especially as you become more single-mindedly absorbed in the experience of the mantra.
Share Your Insights or Questions
What are your experiences with meditation while working? Share them in a comment below.
Is anything unclear/wrong/etc? Ask a question or chime in with some input below.
Tom Von Deck is a meditation trainer, speaker and author of Oceanic Mind – The Deeper Meditation Training Course. Tom specializes in making meditation much much easier for busy and non-busy people from all backgrounds and paths. He is the Mackdaddy of The Deeper Meditation Video Zone and DeeperMeditation.net.