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.


Meditation is critical to seeing clearly: a message from my teacher, Master Ji Ru

This is a message from my teacher,
Master Ji Ru, Abbot of the
Mid-America Buddhist Association
Some people say Buddhism is pessimistic. Buddhism is not pessimistic. It is not optimistic. Buddhism is realistic. It asks us to remove the fog that clouds our thinking. When our minds are clear, we can see conditions clearly; and, when you see conditions clearly because you have mastered your mind, the struggle ends.Then, moving from moment to moment, you joyfully accept all conditions.

Problems are not bad or good. Problems are situations requiring a solution. Solutions that work come from clear minds. We are faced with very big problems at this point in our history. Pollution, poverty and war, for example, threaten all of us. These problems are increasing, not decreasing. Soon,scientists say, these problems will be out of our control. But, so far, our solutions have been lacking because our minds are not clear.

Having not mastered our minds, we are unable to see conditions clearly, and we continue to struggle. Now, time is running out. We have to learn how to see conditions clearly, through meditation and practice. We have to learn to master our minds. There is no other way.

~ Master Ji Ru (Shifu)
I’d like to add only that one need not become a Buddhist to practice and receive the profound benefits of daily meditation. I strongly encourage you all to experience it yourselves and see.

I agree very much with my teacher, that we are at a critical juncture. What we do, say and think every day matters. Meditation allows us to embark on a path in which we can clearly see  our deep links of interconnection as well as the state of our own minds.

It’s a matter of good housekeeping. When the house is a mess our lives are chaotic. We can’t find the keys, the homework, the tools we need for everyday life. When the mind is in confusion and disarray, we know how hard it is to see and think clearly. Meditation gives us the habits of keeping the mental house clean so we can make choices that allow us to live more wisely, peacefully and happily.

The future is being created right now, minute by minute. We need to bring the most clarity and mindful awareness we can to all our actions, words and thoughts. In this way we can hope solve the problems facing our planet now and tomorrow.

Thanks for reading this and giving these ideas your attention and consideration. Wishing peace and happiness for everyone. Hillary

Website update and Facebook retrofit for Calm Chicago

Check out the updated web site for new info and a streamlined look. Let me know what works for you out there. I’m not a very technical person…which is a major understatement. I welcome opinions and ideas.

You’ll find updated info about class times, retreats and more.

Also, we’re about to do a major change with Facebook. The whole goal is to make it all simpler and easy for you all to find, use and enjoy.

Also for the center, tell me what you all would like to see happen that’s not. Or what you like a lot. The center is here for you to help you relieve stress and calm the mind and body. I love to hear back from visitors anytime.

Peace and happiness to all, Hillary

Register for Summer and Autumn Stress reducing mini-retreats @ Calm Chicago


practical, simple mindfulness to reduce your stress

Each a half day of profound peace and instruction in mindfulness through meditation, taiji and qigong.

Register for your Calm Chicago

SUNDAY JULY 25 1-5pm




Open to beginners, experienced folks, everyone. Bring some friends.

Chicago: Slow your Summer Down – (or zen and the art of relaxation!)

Calm Chicago is on A Fresh Squeeze! Please give it a read and let me know what you think. Love to hear from you what works to make your summer more mellow.

A Fresh Squeeze is a terrific resource for all kinds of green living/working/playing info in Chicago. Plus, they offer the Fresh Squeeze card which gets you discounts on loads of stuff.

Calm Chicago a sanctuary from city living

Calm Chicago a Sanctuary from the city way of living

There’s nothing like real experience to show you the benefits of taiji and meditation practice. Audrey Maddox, a student at Columbia College Chicago, spent the spring semester doing an ethnographic study of our center. Aside from the formal report she had to write she also used Prezi to produce this wicked cool presentation of what she found.

Thank you Audrey for practicing with us. Hope to see you back again in the fall.

A new look for the face of stress-reduction in Chicago

Our new logo designed by David Eastman

I’m pretty excited to announce that we’re really close to nailing the new logo for the center. It’s been really interesting to work with David, who brought a lot of sensitivity and insight (and determination) to getting the job done. I wanted to move away from the yin yang that it seems every taiji school on the planet uses, as being a little cliché. But, I still wanted to maintain some representation of it since it is such a deep and central concept to taiji practice. There was also a desire to keep the look simple. Additionally, I wanted to try to convey one of the other ideas at the heart of our practice and teaching- that is a notion of single pointed mind. So, all together wanting a clean look that would also have a touch of the energy and determination that is also an essential part of developing daily meditation and taiji practices.

I’m very grateful to David for his great work. So, we may see some final tweaks before we call it done for sure. But right now, here it is.

Let me know what you think. And of course, we hope you’ll come visit us and get your own practice started. We all know there is plenty of stress in Chicago and no time like right now to start getting rid of it. You can learn more about Calm Chicago: the mind & body center at our website. http://www.calmchicago.org