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Working meditation

Working Meditation: „Work with Love!“ | Plum Village Practices

For many meditators working meditation is one of the biggest challenges.

To integrate meditation into work one needs a lot of practice and dedication.

In the following short videos, Ethan shares his experience with working meditation.

Ethan lived and worked for many years as a lay person in Plum Village – the largest Buddhist monastery in Europe which was founded by Zen-master Thich Nhat Hanh.


Part 1: What is „Working Meditation“?


Three basic questions build the foundation for Ethan’s practice of working meditation:

  1. Can I stay peaceful and maintain calm and serenity during work?
  2. Can I work in a way that helps to keep harmonious relationships with the people I am working with?
  3. Am I adding something of value to the world?

In this way, he is able to measure the success of his meditation.


Part 2: Mindfulness and Working Meditation


For Ethan, mindfulness is more than staying in the here and the now.

During work, mindfulness means also to remember that there are more important things than the work.

Especially in difficult moments, this means to remember that working joyfully and peacefully is at the heart of the practice of working meditation!

To be present and mindful is the foundation for not getting swept away by the demands of the work.


Part 3: How do you deal with work-related suffering?


Especially simple physical tasks are helping Ethan to ground himself in the present moment.

If he feels stressed about the work he will stop and take a longer break.

This helps him to distance himself from the work and to return to the task with a fresh perspective.

Short breaks – from his point of view – are not enough to be able to let go deeply.

If the suffering is related to the people he is working with it will be more difficult to deal with it.

For Ethan, this is a sign that he was not looking after the relationships.

Becoming aware of this he starts to begin anew with this person by looking fresh at him or her.

He tries to appreciate the other person and to look at its strengths: „…not constantly wish for them to be different.“

He tries nowadays to take care of things when they are small so that they do not develop into something unmanageable.


Part 4: Personal development of working as a meditative practice


As a beginner, Ethan used the work as a tool to stay present with his body, breath, and movements.

This practice was very helpful for him. It allowed him to calm down and to be really grounded in the present moment.

Nowadays it became more important to come in touch with the intention behind the work.

Thereby he nourishes his aspiration to add something of value to the world:

  • Make the community more beautiful.
  • Support other people.
  • Build friendships and take good care of the relationships with others.

In the past, his working meditation was mostly grounding himself and about getting things done.

He was very goal oriented and attached to certain ways of working.

This has led to a lot of suffering and frustration.

He ended up preferring to work alone.

Now he is much more focused on taking care of the people he works with.

He aspires to be a person people would like to work with.

„Working happily together“ became much more important than the work in itself.


Thanks to Ethan for his sharing!

May it help some people to overcome their work-related suffering and to work in a way that adds to the peace and happiness in the world.


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