Zen Moving Meditation: Cooking Satori

cooking-cartoon“Mindfulness … is the miracle which can call back in a flash our dispersed mind and restore it to wholeness so that we can live each minute of life.” ~~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness

Ironically, I knew that getting rid of the TV would prove to be educational in many ways.  I had a simple goal in mind – I was hoping I would find better ways to spend my time.  I wanted more productive ways to live and recreate while still being fun and relaxing. I have since spent more time doing some “fun” things like painting, writing, etc.  And all of these things are evolving slowly into new habits, or ways of being – instead of just “vegging out” in front of the TV.

I have come to realize that “relaxing” in front of the TV after a stressful day at work was not actually relaxing at all.  There was no way to process the stress of the day.  I was avoiding rather than relieving the actual stress.

And further more, I have found that cooking with zero distractions (in complete silence) is incredibly relaxing.  Seriously, who knew?  It’s very similar to painting for me – a moving meditation.  I remember when I used to cook while the TV was playing in the other room, which is somewhat visible from my kitchen, I thought the act of cooking was ok.  I didn’t dislike the activity, but it still fell into the “chore” category in my mind.  A more fun chore than cleaning by far, but still a bit of a chore.

For some reason, during a very stressful time at school, I got the urge to make a whole bunch of meals?  I often make family size batches for myself and freeze them for future use.  It’s my version of healthy frozen dinners.  Why I would get an urge to do such a thing during a very busy time – I don’t know?  But off to the store I went.  And since I bought all the food, I had to make it.  Even though I was busy and stressed, I found that the act of cooking was rewarding, relaxing, tiring, and enjoyable.

I should mention that I have a very minimal kitchen.  I have no chopper things, a dishwasher, or other fancy equipment – everything must be done by hand.  I am not sure why, but I’ve just never had the urge to buy such items.  I don’t have to cook for anyone but myself, so I don’t cook every night.  Chopping by hand and washing dishes is not a hardship – just part of the process.

I didn’t even notice the stress relieving qualities of cooking until the second night of very industrious cooking when I actually, at some point while chopping (and crying) onions, felt that the tension in my neck and shoulder blades had dissipated completely.  That doesn’t happen often.  And that night I went to bed exhausted, relaxed, and a tiny bit more self-actualized.

We all read, hear, and see the stories and articles on constantly distracting ourselves and multi-tasking and we “understand” the effects they have on our psyches.  However, understanding is not “realizing.”  I have been experiencing many new realizations post television.  But, it’s really not even “post television” because I do still watch some things online on the computer.  It is much more like I have engaged in “intense single-tasking” and realized what the saying “… after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water” is actually getting at.  I am not insinuating that I have become enlightened. 😦  Long way to go still… the adventure continues. 🙂

I had the realization during my recent cooking experience that – post television (or in my era of intense single-tasking) – the moments of mindfulness and satori are much more bountiful.

Moving Meditation Assignment:

  1.  Find something that activates your Zen mind.
  2.  Do it.:)

Post by Monica Gaylor.


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