By guest contributor Peter Mansfield: Welcome to the modern digital age! Life in the early 21st century is hectic, grueling, and wearing on the spirit as well as the body. Do you ever wonder if the people living at the beginning of the 20th century felt the same way? Probably so given the changes compared to what they grew up experiencing. An excellent way to combat the stresses of modern life is through meditation. Meditation is a proven means of destressing and has adherents worldwide.
Meditation? Sitting in an unfamiliar position? Chanting? Observing periods of silence? When I try to imagine a calm lake all I see are tsunamis! Who has the time? There are meetings, appointments with doctors. Taking the kids to events and sport practices. Not to mention shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry. Social media requires attention along with email, texts, Tweets. Seriously!
We understand life is full of conflicting priorities and demands which is why this post focuses on five activities you can do at home that can be surprisingly meditative. The best part of all? You can include them with something already part of your demanding schedule. The only preparations you might want to make are lighting some aromatic candles and listening to relaxing music, either via headphones or speakers. For best results, mute the phone. Everything will be there when you are finished. Not advised for medical professionals on call!
How about a session of meditative housework? No, keep reading, you’ll be glad you did. Vacuuming carpets can be very meditative especially if you create interesting patterns as you go. Polishing and waxing is next on the list. Brass and silver candlesticks tarnish with use. Removing that tarnish can be very calming, allowing you to “zone out” and let go of everything. It is quite satisfying to rub on the cleaning paste then watch the shiny new surface appear as you rub it off. A haze will appear needing more rubbing until a gleaming new object sits before you. Dusting and waxing furniture has the same effect as polishing. Think of the dust as the tarnish. Doing the dishes? Reportedly, Bill Gates finds dishwashing quite meditative. We’ll get his number for you later.
Bonsai is another way to meditate without leaving home. This ancient Japanese art involves the miniaturization of trees. Examples several hundred years old exist that are no more than 18-24” tall with trunks of impressive diameter. The art requires careful pruning and shaping using copper wire to reproduce the form of a full size tree in one that can sit on your table. Snipping a leaf or branch then stopping to observe the results from various angles is relaxing and calming.
If you don’t have any bonsai but like to work in your garden, apply the same techniques used in bonsai to the full size versions in your yard and garden. Judicious and deliberate pruning has the same benefits. And, believe it or not, weeding can be quite satisfying. All you have to be aware of is not pulling out a desirable plant. At the end, you have the satisfaction of a weed-free space. Turn it into a Zen garden with a tiny rake or cultivator. Simply tending to vegetables and flowers can provide ample opportunity for quiet reflection and relaxation.
Working on a craft is another way to enjoy the benefits of meditation although it is probably not the best idea to meditate while using power tools. That requires focus and attention. But engaging in crafts that do not involve tools of capable of inflicting serious injury can enable you to let go of the day and allow your mind to relax as you express yourself through your creations. At the end, you feel refreshed and have a beautiful work of art as a bonus.
Many candidates for the fifth spot clamored for inclusion during the writing of this post. Writing itself insisted on representation. That is typically more cathartic than meditative. Washing and waxing the car made an argument for inclusion. Nope, already have that covered in housework. Home improvements such as painting, wallpapering, and cabinetry suggested themselves. I referred them to the HealthyHandyman for consideration there, but they did spark the following, demolition.
For the fifth activity, consider demolition. True, it has a powerful cathartic element, but it can also provide ample moments of reflection and meditation. It can be so rewarding to be able to create rubble for a change, not having to be precise, or avoid drips, or being worried about finished results. Breaking up an old sidewalk, knocking down a wall for the chic open plan look, tearing out old cabinets for upgrades. Demolition truly deserves its spot on the list. Now you have five options for integrating meditation into your daily routine.
About the Author
Peter Mansfield is the founder of HealthyHandyman. He has worked as a carpenter for 15 years. He loves woodworking so much that you’ll find him geeking out in the workshop in his spare time! However, on weekends his wife usually succeeds in convincing him to go on a fishing trip with their beloved kids.