Working Meditation

28.11.2019 |

Episode #8 of the course 10 easy meditations to bring calm to your everyday life by John Robin


Welcome to Day 8 of the course!

We’ve now explored seven types of meditation. You can think of the four types of passive meditation—directed and open awareness, metta, and transcendental—as pillars of mindfulness to harness during moments of waiting, rest, or anxiety. The three types of active meditations you’ve learned—eating, walking, and talking—are three of the four pillars of mindful activity that you can cultivate throughout each day.

In the final two days of this course, we are going to explore two additional meditations that are a fusion of both, and today, we are going to see what the fourth pillar of mindful activity is.


Meditative Work: A Radical New Paradigm

Cal Newport in his book, Deep Work, teaches the importance of harnessing deeper focus and single-mindedness when we work. Instead of cramming our workday full of activity and mindless to-do and open-ended commitment, we should streamline our work to single-focus actions, deep work without distraction.

This kind of deep work is a gateway to meditation, and in fact, approached as a series of directed awareness meditation sessions, you can sharpen your work focus to get done in four hours what most fail to do in ten.

It goes like this:

1. Pick a work task. It can be any one of the following:

• dealing with your email queue

• reading

• writing

• editing

• researching

• a specific project

• practicing an instrument or other art skill

• housework

2. Set a timer for 20 minutes.

During this time, your one work task is going to be your object of directed awareness. You are going to use work as an active meditation to sharpen your attention as your work.

3. Focus on your work. Immerse yourself in this one task. If your attention wanders, notice that, and return to your task.

Your attention wandering, in this case, can take on the form of:

• You get a notification on your phone, and you check it.

• You wander off online and search blogs, social media, or other websites unrelated to your work task.

• You get detoured onto something else unrelated.

4. Treat your one specific work focus as your directed awareness.

Stop reading and do this meditation now.

How did this go? You might have noticed, as many commonly do when practicing this type of single-focused work, just how many other things you want to get done. Your urge is to bounce around from task to task.

Welcome to the power of working meditation, an active meditation that uses work as an activity of directed awareness.

The beautiful thing about this meditative approach to working is that you can layer your day with small pockets of time like this, ideally about 20-30 minutes each, making progress on several single objectives. For example, you might get a total of:

• 1 hour reading a book

• 40 minutes dealing with emails

• 20 minutes writing a book draft

• 1 hour developing a business plan

• 30 minutes managing your side-gig business

In my other Highbrow course, “Master Your Time,” I go more into detail how you can harness the full power of working meditation. This one certainly is the most powerful for me and changed radically how I work.

It’s taken practice, but I am now able to get through about eight to twelve of these 20-30-minute windows allotted to specific tasks I plan out ahead of time. I get an insane amount of work done this way. Writing this lesson right now, for example, I am focused entirely on what I’m doing as a 20-30-minute meditation. There is no email checking, no phone checking, nothing at all that is not related to making progress on this course.

Working meditation is extremely important because it helps you discover an opportunity to meditate about what is right in front of you every single day! From housework to personal hobbies and your profession, you can train yourself to deepen mindfulness in the attention you bring to how you work, and ultimately, develop deeper calm and laser-sharp focus.



Working meditation is the fourth of our four pillars of active meditations. It involves approaching batches of single-objective work as meditation exercises, where your work is your object of directed awareness. It’s the place where all the work you do on meditation can meet on the road, especially as you develop sharper and deeper focus.

Your homework is to practice this as much as you can. Keep up your daily walks as well, and don’t forget talking meditation. By now, with eight balls in the air, you have a wide array of meditations to juggle.

Stay tuned for tomorrow, when we turn to our penultimate one, breathing meditation.


Recommended book

Deep Work by Cal Newport


Share with friends