Thursday Tidbits: The Zen of Kitchen Tasks and Meditating Cats

This week’s Thursday Tidbits post considers Zen as revealed through meditating cats and kitchen tasks, the everyday of  Zen spirituality.

“Zen does not confuse spirituality with thinking about God while one is peeling potatoes. Zen spirituality is just to peel the potatoes.”

Alan Watts

Perhaps more than I should admit, Zen spirituality is a constant in my kitchen, which is not to say that I am able to tend to the task at hand completely, far too often not. Rather, as I am chopping onion I consider what the next moment might offer. Rarely, do I consider the onion.

EmmaRose in MeditationKMHuberImage

EmmaRose in Meditation
KMHuberImage

Often my musing ranges far beyond the physical plane–my own private “soaring with the over-soul*–rather than considering the outcome for the onion, usually mere mush.

At best, I might be considering whether I will scramble eggs or shred lettuce for a salad; both are dictated by the state of the onion and just how far my thoughts have strayed.

It is scrambled eggs if I am envisioning the next scene in my old woman novel but the salad may be saved if I have only strayed to whether or not laundry needs to be done. The answer to that is always the same, a crisp, clear “no.”

Every time I immerse myself in the Zen spirituality of the mundane, I discover something new. It never fails. To be fair, when my thoughts are anywhere but the task at hand, there are also discoveries, including the best tasting cup of coffee is made from the proper proportions of both water and coffee.

Regardless of the outcome, discovery expands the moment to its brim. There was a time that a burnt coffee carafe or hot, coffee-colored water dismayed me, and although I may greet those moments in resignation, I am able to see them in their own Zen spirituality.

Living with animals has taught me more about Zen spirituality than any other resource, including kitchen tasks. This week’s video, courtesy of ZenFlash, features just over a minute of cats meditating, which I found illustrative of Zen but not the kind of meditation that feline EmmaRose has taught me.

EmmaRose has always been a meditating cat but not with any kind of object, especially round and especially large, as she tops the scale at five-and-one-half pounds. For EmmaRose, small, round objects are for batting and chasing into obscure areas invisible to human eyes. She prefers meditating at the window, which she does daily, and she considers the panes carefully.

Choosing Her PaneKMHuberImage

Choosing Her Pane
KMHuberImage

Often, squirrels are visible from the right pane while the left side might offer a darting, lime-green lizard–EmmaRose seems to sense the season for lizard viewing–the middle pane offers the most sun on any day. Whatever these moments provide EmmaRose, she is at her window to discover anew each day.

Who is to say whether or not she “soars with the over-soul”* for she has the light of day, which may offer a squirrel or the infrequent lizard as well.

I and my onion can only aspire.

Thursday Tidbits are weekly posts that offer choice bits of information to celebrate our oneness with one another through our unique perspectives. It is how we connect, how we have always connected but in the 21st century, the connection is a global one.

*Soaring with the over-soul” is from a satirical essay Louisa May Alcott wrote regarding her father’s involvement with 19th century transcendentalism. 

18 thoughts on “Thursday Tidbits: The Zen of Kitchen Tasks and Meditating Cats

    • Hi, Ann!
      EmmaRose is of a “certain age”–as Cooper was–and also like her lifelong friend, an “old soul.” I am quite fortunate in being able to know this pair. The Louisa May Alcott essay is a hoot, and I think you would enjoy it. I recall it fondly from my graduate school days, almost thirty years ago now
      Karen

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  1. Love the meditating cats, Karen. Animals are such wonderful teachers because they don’t use words. I have to remember about zen in the kitchen as well. Sometimes I start eating a meal standing over the sink. What am I in such a rush for? Thanks for another enlightening Thursday. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

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    • All kidding aside, Zen in the kitchen can be quite remarkable. At the very least, chopping vegetables or preparing a meal allows us to see our creativity in its completeness. It is such a metaphor for our lives. As you say, animals teach us by their very lives. Thanks so much, Kozo, and hugs back at ya.
      Karen

      Like

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