Waking Up at Work Makes Every Task Joyful

I don’t mean you should be sleeping at work so you can wake up there. This is the kind of waking up that will make every day at work feel lighter.

In the introduction to Thich Nhat Hanh’s Zen Keys, Philip Kapleau writes:

“..we live in a society where the object for so many is to do as little work as possible, where the workplace, whether office or home, is looked upon as a place of drudgery and boredom, where work rather than being a creative and fulfilling aspect of one’s life is seen as oppressive and unsatisfying. How different is this from Zen! In Zen everything one does becomes a vehicle for self-realization, every act, every movement is done wholeheartedly, with nothing left over.”

He goes on to show us that all we have, moment by moment is the doing of the task at hand in its purest form. At home – washing the dishes, cleaning the litter box, carrying the laundry … at work – typing the words, sitting in the meeting, crunching the numbers, digging the ditch, measuring the wood and so on. To “wake up” in this sense means we clean our minds of all the babbling in the mind, all the ideas of what we like or don’t like about the work we are doing, and develop an ability to simply and purely do the task required without any judging action in our minds.

When we do this, every action becomes our meditation. Every action is a way to “wake up.” In this way, each day can be fulfilling and joyful as we learn to come fully into the present moment, accepting it as it is.

Try it this week. Let me know how you do. When you do each thing at work, what ever that is, just do that one thing. When the mind begins to judge it, like it – don’t like it. Bring your attention back to the task, purely and cleanly.

See if you don’t turn your daily grind into your daily delight.


Author: Hillary Johnson

Improvisational documentary and fine art photographer.

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