How To Meditate While You’re Doing Housework

By Seamus Anthony

By Seamus Anthony

Did you know you can practice meditation in pretty much any situation?

If you lead a busy life and find it hard to make time to meditate, then you might like to try meditating while you get some “mindless” chores done. I do it when I am washing the dishes. Here’s how …

Turning Mindless Chores into Mindful Chores

We usually think of housework as being pretty mindless work. That’s why some people like it, they find it relaxing, and why others (like me) hate it. I dislike it because I would much rather be somehow engaging the grey matter a bit more (by doing something creative).

Why do I feel the desire to be doing something more creative? Because I have an idea in my head that this is more worthwhile – but the truth is no action is more or less worthwhile in life – they are just what they are no more no less.

I know this in theory – but nevertheless I have always tended to get frustrated and irritable when doing household chores. That’s why (as my wonderful, long-suffering partner will attest) I avoid them like the plague.

And that was how I intended to live my life out; I never really thought I’d come to a place in life like I am now where the amount of household work I am required to do has massively increased.

Newsflash: Children Create Havoc, Mess and LOTS of Housework!

Seriously, as we were wistfully looking at the growing bump and contemplating names for the impending bundle of joy, I never for a moment twigged that with the joy of becoming a father would come a gigantic increase in the amount of crap that needs doing around the home.

It creeps up on you too, at first having a little bubs seemed like a walk in the park, all she did was sleep, eat and poop. But now, as she enthusiastically carves a path of destruction towards her first birthday, I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time wiping, washing and tidying up. And that’s just me, save your sympathy for my darling partner. As I type away in some kind of warped attempt at breadwinning, I can see her out my window hanging yet another load of washing out to dry. It just never stops – and we’ve only got one kid!

Yeah, So Like, Whatever Gramps – What About the Meditation Lesson Already?

Oh right, sorry. Got carried away.

Mindfulness is a term used to describe the process of focussing only on what it is that you are doing now in the present moment. This skill is pretty much the basic skill of meditation (although there will be various opinions on this statement no doubt).

So whether you’re processing customers at the fast-food counter, perfecting a new skateboard move, coding the next Facebook, or in my (sad) case, doing endless piles of dishes, you can quite realistically meditate while you work.

Here’s the ‘Housework Meditation’ technique:

  1. Focus only on the task at hand
  2. And your breathing
  3. Breathe normally, just pay attention to it
  4. And the task at hand
  5. Try and catch yourself when you start thinking about something else, something irrelevant to the task at hand
  6. Then – without berating yourself for losing concentration – move your focus back to the task at hand
  7. repeat until the task is done.

Boring – But Beneficial

Remembering that the idea is to remain focussed on your task as much as possible, this process will be easy if you are enjoying what you are doing, or if it requires a lot of concentration.

It may prove more challenging if the job you are doing is dull, repetitive and, in itself, not challenging, but the benefits for practising this “moving meditation” are plentiful.

  • You will do the job better (and potentially faster).
  • You will be exercising your “focus muscle”, i.e. your ability to concentrate.
  • And, with any luck, you will hopefully notice an increased level of relaxation and inner peace.

This last benefit is why I try to practice meditation while I do the dishes. Otherwise my irritation at this never-ending, boring chore starts to wind me up and before I know it my mind takes this bad attitude and runs with it. Next thing you know I am seething about “what she said” and “what he did”, and this kind of thinking my friends, is bad news. Very bad news indeed.

On the other hand if (on a good night) I manage to relax and clear my mind of bullshit while I clean those (wonderful, lovely) pots and pans, I find myself infused with a Universal perspective and a sense of gratitude. Then when I turn around to see that the little horror bundle-of-joy has created some gigantic mess and the darling wife is losing the plot over it, I am more likely to be able to help diffuse the situation with my, like, totally Zen energy (maaan).

Any interesting ways and places that you like to meditate? Tell us all about them in the comments section below, and don’t forget to go here to get your free e-book (by me, it’s quite good).


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Hi, I'm Seamus Anthony. I am an author, artist and musician from Australia. Here at Rebel Zen, I document my journey as an creative artist and human and in doing so, hopefully help you in your own progress through your life of creativity. Go get your free E-book by me: "Taming The Monkey Mind".

25 comments Write a comment

  1. What!! You mean we don’t have to be sitting up right in our favorite chair, eyes closed, complete silence? Awesome! ๐Ÿ™‚
    Believe it or not, I wondered if this would actually work. I’ve been practicing my meditation for a few minutes each night while the day to day background noise is going. You know, TV on, lights on, etc., just so I could get used to blocking out those things that are a hindrance.
    I will definitely be practicing this during those mundane jobs. Next step, meditating while commuting to work…….hmmm. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Scotts last blog post..The Ever-Changing Thought is..Um..Changing??

  2. Yikes!

    I am primary care-giver to three tiny grandchildren 5 days a week (ages 3, 1 and 5 months). I am thinking there is no way I would be able to concentrate on any ‘single’ thing with these little ones underfoot. If anything, while I am feeding one of them I have to think about changing another … and getting someone a drink of juice … and picking up puzzle pieces … and rescuing the cat … and helping the 3 yr old take a potty break … and answering the telephone … and trying to get one more spreadsheet finished during nap time … and planning what I will be making for dinner … and wondering if I have any clean clothes to wear tomorrow … and who has time for ‘housework’?

    Well, you get the picture. To me, “Zen” is being able to divide my brain into about 12 separate pieces, all of which need to be working at full capacity all at once. If I can do this I am at peace.

  3. This guy is such a nice writer. Really enjoy frankness like this, so well expressed, and the meditation tips are pretty down good as well.

  4. This topic is where there lies so much confusion. People somehow picture someone who meditates as removed,isolated and a hermit. Although that can be for a life of solitude and prayer, almost everyone else can be alive to themselves, and aware of awareness 24/7. You did a good job of highlighting how it’s possible in what some consider mundane. Here’s to the moment!

  5. True. By the same token there a lot of mundane office jobs I’ve done that offer ample time for meditation. Filing, supply closet issues, or in a retail setting inventory always put me into a zombie like state…gift basket making… but I digress. I think shitty office jobs would be a useful article.

  6. @Scott – I used to find meditating on the train is a great way to relax before work. I wouldn’t recommend it while driving though just in case you zone out and really take the meditation to a whole new plane of existence ๐Ÿ˜‰

    @Mari – I am certainly bad at being present during boring meetings, of which i have one today ๐Ÿ™

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  8. Thanks for the post. I do agree that when you can absolutely focus on the task at hand – the mind goes somewhere within/without. I used to do bead work – with the tiny tiny beads. This became a wonderful meditation -finding the exact size and the proper color. Another thing I would do to relax was algebra – really! I have my old college text, and would write out algebra exercises – very neat and complete. Wonderful way to focus, yet leave the clutter behind.
    Thanks again, Seamus

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  10. Yep! Everything is practice. It is just a matter of how we bring our attention to it and what we notice about our relationship with both ourselves and the task at hand. Off the cushion meditation brings our world right up to the edge of our practice. I have written about this too in my blog all about “ironing as meditation”

  11. I do the same thing!
    However to “get into the zone” I put on a guided mediation with headphones. You can really block out the world and relax, yet be productive.

    Now I wouldn’t recommend doing that with children of course ๐Ÿ™‚ gotta keep an eye (and ear) on them!

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  15. I absolutely love the way you word things. I googled “how to meditate while cleaning” and I clicked on yours mainly because it said “bullshit” in the preview. Lol. I was thinking hey they talk like me, has to be more interesting than the ones without any curse words. Thank you your post truly helped me gain some peace of mind while vacuuming. I mean it !!! No children just 2 fur babies. Same thing according to my friends that have children lol. Nice work man! Have an amazing day!

  16. I wish I could post a picture of my favorite spot in the city to meditate.There is a nearby stream beside a walking trail with some large, sort of flat rocks in the middle. One has rushing water on either side of it. Even though there is a bridge behind me and a ramp to an interstate highway about 20 feet to the right, the rushing water drowns most of it out so I can just connect to nature, live in and enjoy that moment and be refreshed. All my stress, worries and negative thoughts seem to be carried down stream and the rock I sit on helps to ground me. After just a couple of minutes I feel better. It doesn’t have to take all day if you find the right spot that really resonates with you.

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