Editors Note: I am incredibly excited to start publishing content from Leo Babauta, the founder of Zen Habits and a truly wise individual. Leo’s writing is some of the best, most insightful, and most deeply fundamental I’ve read. He has a unique ability to penetrate to the core of something without pretense. The following post is one of my favorite pieces of his, and shows a lot about his approach to life.
“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.” ~Zen proverb
In the chaos of the modern world, there is a beauty in simply doing.
We’re buffeted wildly by whatever emails, conversations, news, events, demands, that are going on around us. Our minds become a constant deluge of thoughts dwelling in the past, worries of the future, distractions pulling us in every direction.
But all of that melts away when we focus on just doing.
It doesn’t matter what the doing is: sitting, walking, writing, reading, eating, washing, talking, snuggling, playing. By focusing on the doing, we drop our worries and anxieties, jealousies and anger, grieving and distraction.
There is something profound in that simplicity. Something ultimately heart-rendingly breath-takingly gorgeous.
“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.” ~Zen proverb
You are in the middle of your day today, and you’re caught up in the sandstorm of thoughts, feelings, to-dos, meetings, readings, and communications of this day.
Pause. Breathe. Let all of that fade.
Now focus on doing one thing, right now. Just choose one thing, and clear away all other distractions. Seriously, clear it all away. Turn off your Internet. Stop reading this article (OK, read a couple more sentences, then close your browser!).
Let all thoughts about anything other than the doing also fade away. They’ll come up, but gently make note of them, and then let them go. And return to the doing.
If you’re washing a dish, do it slowly, and feel every sensation. If you’re eating a fruit, taste it, feel the textures, be mindful of your hunger or lack of it. If you’re writing something, pour your heart into that writing, become the writing, inhabit the words.
The rest of the world becomes meaningless distraction. It’s just you, and your doing.
And you realize: this is all that matters. In this, there is everything.
“Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.” ~Shunryu Suzuki
Originally published at ZenHabits