Temperatures are starting to drop here in New England (well, overnight, anyway), and I'm thinking not about the end of summer and the start of pumpkin-everything season, but the end of exterior painting and start of wood stacking. Having a place in the country brings breathtaking views ... as well as huffing and puffing from the never-ending farm chores. But I've found that even the most tiresome tasks give me a sense of quiet peace when I can slip into a meditative mindset.
This year especially, the house painting has seemed endless. And just like every important job out there (cooking, gardening, restoring furniture, etc.), the prep takes longer--and is almost more important than--the task itself:
~with numerous tarp moves, brush clean ups, and ladder adjustments in between~
~all while keeping a close eye on the forecast
I bribed myself early in the spring with my iPhone full of podcasts. But it wasn't long before I found myself well into the job one day, balanced on the ladder and the first errant paint drips on my hands, when I realized my earbuds weren't in and I could hear the sounds of the world around me. I soon slipped into an easy rhythm with my brush, not looking ahead to gauge how much I had left, and thinking about ... nothing. Dare I say it? Yup: It was enjoyable.
With so many picture-perfect days this summer it's nearly impossible to remember what January will feel like. Although I distinctly recall the pleasure I felt one chilly morning last fall while doing that unpleasant task of farm animal owners everywhere: mucking out stalls. Bundled up against the cold, I slid the shovel along the ancient wooden floor and--one at a time--deposited the goods on the manure pile with a satisfying thwack. Between working on areas that had frozen solid, I stood in the doorway to the field, watching the cows munch their hay while the rising sun evaporated the frost into the sky. I hated to see that chore end. There'll be more where that came from, of course--they hardly ever stop eating ;)
You don't need to adopt cows to experience these brief glimpses of spontaneous samadhi, or meditative absorption. I've found it while washing dishes, vacuuming and doing other tasks I previously avoided. And I usually notice that it finds me, when I least expect it. An hour may have passed and the job may be complete, though to me it's felt like mere moments.
Where have you experienced times of pure awareness?