Weird Ways to Meditate

sweepingmeditationEinstein said he did his best thinking while shaving.

I’d argue that what he was doing wasn’t actually thinking. It was meditating.

After all, meditation is the practice of giving your mind a point of focus—whether it’s the sound of your breath, a particular sound (otherwise known as a mantra), or image. And there’s nothing in that definition that says that you must be sitting in a quiet room while you contemplate this focus. You could easily be standing at the bathroom sink, intently considering your face as you shave it.

I’ve been getting my meditation groove on by grabbing a broom and sweeping. This particular form of meditation was born out of necessity: Although I’m no clean freak, I can’t relax in an environment where every step results in a crunching sound under my feet. And our two year old transforms our living room in to a minefield of pretzel crumbs, broken crayons, and Legos each night. (It’s amazing just how big of a mess she can make. And although we do insist she clean up her toys before bed, if we made her clean up every last kernel she’s be up way too late due to the universal law that says what takes 2 seconds to unpack takes 20 minutes to put away.) As soon as bedtime is over I grab the broom and sweep it all away.

My husband is convinced I’m doing it just to torture him (he’s fine with a crunchy floor, but seeing me clean makes him feel guilty that he’s not cleaning). But I’ve come to realize that it helps me close the chapter on the dinner-bath-bedtime rodeo and unwind a little bit before my daily dose of grown-up time. As in any true meditation practice, my thoughts quiet, I stop being conscious of anything other than what I am doing, and I occasionally get gifts from my subconscious of big ideas or small insights that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to hear because I was too busy thinking about my to-do list or what we need from the grocery store or the return emails I’ve been neglecting.

For those of you out there who wish you had more of a meditation practice or feel like you just can’t do it, here’s a radical idea: Perhaps you’re already meditating. Maybe your meditative task is washing the dishes, folding the laundry, knitting, weeding, or walking. Or maybe you’re a meditative shaver, like Einstein. Think: what quote-unquote “chore” gives you a mental reprieve? Whatever it is, let it convince you that you already have a baseline of meditation experience to build on. Allow it to remove the daunting obstacle of creating a meditation practice out of nothing.

If your chores still feel like plain ole chores, and not meditation, here are a few options of things you can focus on that will help elevate any daily task into a more mindful realm:

  • Think about someone you love, call up details that make you feel like you’re in their presence, and wish them well. It builds compassion.
  • Focus on your physical sensations. How does the dishwater feel on your hands? What does the soap smell like? What texture are the dishes themselves? This attention to physical details grounds you by drawing your attention away from your thoughts and in to your body.
  • Stop fighting. Instead of dreading your daily housekeeping, look forward to it. Get curious about all the little mini experiences that come wrapped up in your chosen task and savor them. It grows your ability to focus and takes away some of the drama we create in our minds about how busy we are and how sorry we feel for ourselves because of how busy we are.

What’s your weird way to meditate?
I’d love to hear how you meditate in non-traditional ways. Leave a comment here or on the MsMindbody Facebook page, and if I publish your quote in the next Vegimental, I’ll send you a great Beginner’s Guide to Buddhist Meditation book from Rodmell Press.

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Take care and keep breathing,


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One thought on “Weird Ways to Meditate

  1. I find my mind drifting away when I am petting my cats. The combination of their purrs and the way their fur feels in my hands is incredibly soothing – not to mention all the energy being exchanged from cat to human and human to cat. Talk about good vibes!

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