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Buddhists Are Not Doing Nothing July 1, 2014

Posted by nrhatch in Gratitude, Happiness, Humor, Life Balance, Mindfulness.

Contrary to what some think, Buddhists do not sit around doing nothing all day.


Meditating is not nothing.  Meditating is hard work.  Getting our thoughts to settle down is no easy feat.  It’s like herding cats.

Once Buddhists finish their morning meditation, they chop wood and carry water.  Or do the laundry . . .

After enlightenment, the laundry.

But they do IT (whatever IT is) with mindful attention.


When they peel an orange, they use all their senses to focus on its scent, texture, taste, color, and the feel of its peel.  If stray thoughts arise, intent on wandering off unchaperoned, practitioners of mindfulness rein them in and bring focus back to the task at hand.

Imagine paying attention to everything you do, say, think, see, smell, hear, touch, and taste.

All day.  Every day.

Being mindful is not nothing.  Staying present to the present of the present is hard work.  Quieting the chatter of our monkey minds is a challenge.

But it gets easier with practice.  And the rewards are great.

Imagine seeing the perfection in something as simple as an orange.  Or no longer stubbing your toe on the coffee table as you hunt for your keys.


Aah . . . that’s better!




1. suzicate - July 1, 2014

Being mindful is quite a workout to do it all the time, but oh what a life it is when it becomes a way of life…I can only imagine the bliss as I’m mindful more at certain times than others, mostly when in nature. I can’t seem to get there in the midst of everyday mundane tasks. I can with mowing, raking, or gardening; again, there goes that nature thing with me. I can be attentive with creative outlets as well. If only I can conquer it with housework, ha!

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

The more mindful we are, the more we realize its many benefits ~ we are more relaxed and happy when our thoughts are not “a million miles away.” With practice, mindful focus carries over into all our tasks and creative endeavors.

Life is much simpler when we are doing what we are doing without worrying about doing all the other things that need doing.

2. bwcarey - July 1, 2014

when i wash the dishes i’m in another world, great post

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

When I wash dishes, I’m washing dishes.
When I peel carrots, I’m peeling carrots.

Throughout the day, I use “menial chores” to bring my focus back to Here and Now. And the chores become rewards ~ a peaceful oasis in the midst of the chaos and confusion of modern day life.

bwcarey - July 2, 2014

well said, nothing like a stack of bills to bring you back to earth, happy days

nrhatch - July 2, 2014

Yup. Even paying bills can remind us to focus on all we have right Here and Now.

3. Jacqueline King - July 1, 2014

When I first heard about mindfulness I thought it was fine for a monk in a mountain cave, but I was far too busy, with no time spare for contemplating my navel! But, as your words and beautiful pictures demonstrate, Nancy, it’s about being conscious about what I’m doing moment by moment. Not always easy ~ but so rewarding when I manage it, even for just a moment. Thank you for the reminder! 🙂

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

When I stepped into the role of disinterested observer to “watch my thoughts” as they arose, I was surprised by their lack of focus and at how “wrong” many of them were.

As I continued to observe them, the monkey chatter slowed down and became more “trustworthy” ~ instead of yakking away even when they had nothing of import to say, they became calmer.

Once my thoughts felt “heard,” they stopped racing around like a toddler in the midst of a tantrum.

The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.

4. Jill Weatherholt - July 1, 2014

This is definitely an area I need to work on, Nancy. Lately I’ve been feeling that I need to slow down my mind. I’ve been struggling to stay focused, especially with my writing. Thank you for this timely post!

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

Start with little things, Jill. When you wash your face, brush your teeth, or change clothes . . . pay attention to what you are doing.

Throughout the day, look for opportunities to bring ALL your senses to the task at hand ~ when you’re eating, focus on the yummy taste and textures. (Unless you’re eating something you don’t like. In which case, spit it out.) 😎

If you sit to meditate and your To Do list keeps flashing up on your internal screen, you might jot down a note and tell your thought that you will deal with it later.

More and more often, when I sit down to meditate, my thoughts breathe a sigh of relief and happily sit on the beach with me. Happy to be “off the clock” doing nothing.

Jill Weatherholt - July 1, 2014

Thanks for taking the time to explain your techniques, Nancy. I really do appreciate it. As life becomes more stressful…with aging parents, etc., now is the perfect time for me to make a few changes and just be “off the clock.”

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

You’re welcome. There are all sorts of studies done by people with actual credentials that show the benefits of meditation for S~T~R~E~S~S relief. Even if nothing else changes, we change.

And if you can’t get your thoughts to settle down, give your mind something to focus on ~ following your breath in and out, listening to the clock tick, counting 99 bottles of beer on the wall.

“Hey! Where did Bottle #100 disappear to?”

5. Silver in the Barn - July 1, 2014

I need to work on this. I bought a course on mindfulness and meditation from The Teaching Company. Very interesting but it is so relaxing that I’ve fallen asleep in each lecture!!! I don’t think that counts as meditation.

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

Sleep isn’t meditation . . . but it’s also good for us. It’s relaxing and energizing and restorative.

Plus your ability to drift off means you’ve “let go” of THINKING.

6. ashokbhatia - July 1, 2014

The mind is like a wild horse and needs a lot of effort to get tamed somewhat. Great post!

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

Thanks. Meditation allows our thoughts to relinquish the reins. In my practice, as soon as the Mountain River or Ocean Voyages CD starts playing, my thoughts settle down for a brief vacation while I stay in the NOW for 30-60 minutes.

Afterwards, we all feel GREAT!

ashokbhatia - July 1, 2014

Same here. Our family follows Sri Ram Chandra Mission.

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

I expect you know what you are doing/ being much better than amateurs like me. But I think this quote is right:

“The way teaches us the way.” As we do, we become.

7. Val Boyko - July 1, 2014

Great post Nancy … and a reminder to mindfully embrace all aspects of our day.
I’m smiling ‘cos I just picked up dog poop and I think I’m grateful I didn’t read this before hand!
Val x

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

Bwahaha! When I’m scooping out the litter box. I mindfully turn my attention away from any “aromas” that linger. 😎

8. NancyTex - July 1, 2014

Meditation is something I continue to struggle with, but something I’m committed to getting better at. So hard to quiet my mind, but absolutely necessary.

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

I expect that when you are walking, running, and huffing and puffing up canyons walls, you are “in the zone.”

Where are you? HERE
What time is it? NOW

NancyTex - July 1, 2014

What a beautiful way to look at it, NH. Thank you.

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

Keep moving, NT ~ you’re an inspiration to the sedentary nature in us!

9. ericjbaker - July 1, 2014

Quieting the chatter! My greatest challenge.

You presented the ideas here in a clear, simple way, which, in art-historian parlance, is a great union of form and content.

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

Thanks, Eric. I had fun writing this post ~ and it’s a practice well worth sharing. Once you begin to tame the chatter, it’s amazing what you begin to hear.

10. Grannymar - July 1, 2014

Having lived alone for sixteen years, I have had plenty of practice to being aware of the ticking clock, a gentle breeze, the feel of the yarn in my hands or the sounds of nature outside my window. Food always tastes better when I have someone to share it with.

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

I like having BFF around, especially at mealtime.

Before life grew so “complicated” and full of distractions, many folks used household chores (snapping beans, knitting, etc.) to relax, unwind, and de-stress. It wasn’t such a race to the finish line.

Grannymar - July 1, 2014

In the last ten years, I learned to switch off from stress caused by other people around me, I had to, otherwise I would spend half my time in cardiac care.

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

I’m glad you learned to switch off the stress button, GM. Being stuck in cardiac care is not a good place to be.

11. diannegray - July 1, 2014

To me meditating is like entering the eye of the hurricane – the all peaceful, all quiet center. It’s not easy to do sometimes, but it’s certainly worth it. I love the ‘mindfulness’ of Buddhism.

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

The eye of the hurricane is an apt description . . . I still hear the howling wind, “miles away,” while I sit in the “cone of silence.”

12. Barbara - July 1, 2014

We do all sorts of mundane things during the course of a day without a thought because it’s just routine. Can you imagine how this would improve our memory if we focus on every little thing we do? I need to start doing this, and get rid of the monkey clatter (love that expression Nancy)!

nrhatch - July 1, 2014

It does improve the memory ~> there is less detritus flowing around to distract us, we notice our thoughts as they arise, and we focus on our actions as they occur.

As a result, it becomes easy to remember where we leave our keys.

13. elizabeth2560 - July 2, 2014

Thich Naht Hanh realised that the contemplative side of Buddhism was not enough and began active humanitarian programmes with the community (and the world).

nrhatch - July 2, 2014

Absolutely. “After enlightenment, the laundry” ~> we must do as well as be.

14. Pix Under the Oaks - July 2, 2014

I am always working on quieting the chatter.. 😀

nrhatch - July 2, 2014

It’s resistant and insistent ~> like a roomful of toddlers told “It’s Naptime.” 😎

15. Renica Rego - July 4, 2014

Been trying to get back to meditation after a very long gap. It’s not easy, no! But got to persevere. Thanks for sharing this. Hope more and more people are drawn towards meditation and benefit from it.

nrhatch - July 4, 2014

Instead of adding it to your “to do” list, view it as a reward for crossing a few items off your list. Put on a meditation CD, climb into comfy clothes and a comfy chair, and let the world fall away.

16. bluebee - July 4, 2014

Yes, it’s hard work but, like everything, becomes easier with practice.

nrhatch - July 5, 2014

Yes. The mind is like a puppy bouncing about with too much energy. If we can get it to settle down (perhaps with a chew toy in the corner), we sense who we are underneath all that frenetic activity.

17. jannatwrites - July 5, 2014

Being mindful isn’t mindless at all. If I wasn’t so scattered, I’d have half a mind to try it. 🙂

nrhatch - July 5, 2014

Haha! I always feel better when I meditate. But then I have to return to the “real world.” 😎

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