I love to cook. At least most of the time. And when I’m happiest doing it — making something I like to eat, w/out a deadline or people I worry won’t like it — cooking feels much like meditation. So does gardening, or making tea. I’ve never gotten to where washing dishes does this for me (despite what the beloved Thích Nhất Hạnh says). I’m not good enough to make beauty out of chores. Although I’m hopeful…
Laundry, for instance: not the Zen. Nor vacuuming, nor making the bed. But weeding can be, and certainly writing or working in my journal are.
There’s an underlying music to everyday life, a kind of almost-audible melody that takes over when I’m immersed in the now of the action. If it’s cooking, this often happens as I crush garlic, or when I dice onions. If I’m making tea? The laying of the cloth, the warming & filling of the pot — these become movements in some larger piece. Sometimes, I swear it sounds like Pythagoras’s music of the spheres.
I wish I could reach this state of mind more easily, and w/ forethought. For now, I’m happy when it finds me, as it did when I was making the marinade for chicken yesterday. Or even making a salad for lunch: what will I add? My mother’s salads were legendary. She added all kinds of things, but they were always wonderful. Radishes, cucumbers, green onions, shredded carrots. Lemon juice to brighten it all, paprika to add a fuller flavour. I try to follow her apron strings.
Whatever you do, if you do it with good intention and mindfulness, I think it becomes a kind of meditation. A way to tune in to this moment, this now. Even if it’s dicing green onions, or slicing lemons. Maybe especially lemons; they smell so good!
Seriously — what is it you love to do that absorbs you? What makes you happy in the simple doing? Next time you’re stressed? Make time for it. You (& everyone around you!) will be the happier for it.