Last week we talked about meditating while cleaning. This is good because you have to clean anyway, but there are activities that are inherently more peaceful and meditative, that can be used in a mindful way.
The activities I have in mind fall into two basic categories: Rhythmic and creative. Of course, some activities can be both.
Many meditations guide you to imagery or use objects that focus/unfocus the mind. By staring at a mandala or a candle flame, you engage the mind so that every little stray thought isn’t an agonizing distraction. At the same time, you let go of the mind.
It’s kind of like letting your dog run in a fenced yard; you don’t have to watch him every minute because it’s fenced, and you can do more interesting things while he’s running. A mandala, a breathing technique, an object of spiritual inquiry can be a fenced yard. While you are getting value out of a cognitive inquiry, you are also not thinking about all the unmeditative things that might occupy your mind.
A rhythmic activity might be drumming, dancing, weaving, spinning (on a spinning wheel), sewing, knitting, carving or sanding wood, stringing beads, etc.
A creative activity might be painting or drawing, carving, beading, sculpting, etc.
If you’re doing woodcarving, the part where you’re repetitively clearing the surface might be more rhythmic, the part where you’re actually creating a design is more creative. Similarly, designing a bead project might be highly creative, focusing on color, shape, and arrangement, while actually stringing the beads, once designed and laid out, is repetitive and rhythmic.
Your activity can be purposeful or simply an occupation conducive to meditation. Next week we’ll talk about purposes that work well with meditation.
Prepare your activity. Get out your beading, carving, or knitting supplies before you begin. Sit in your workspace with everything ready.
Ground and center.
Now simply begin, allow your mind to remain focused on the work, undistracted by stray thoughts. Bring yourself back to the moment, to the physical objects, the tactile and sensory experience of your creativity.
You can choose in advance if you will focus on the goal—the end product—or stay in the moment; this bead, this string, this drumbeat. Either way, bring yourself back to that thought process whenever you stray.
Some projects are completed in a single sitting, some are not. Having a long-term project might be a beautiful way to create meditative suggestibility—when you pick it up, it begins to induce trance. On the other hand, a one-shot project has a clear ending point, bringing you out of meditation as you finish. For example, with beading, tying the final knot and attaching the closure is a natural way to end meditation.