Meditation on Daily Tasks

“Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.”

Jon Kabat-Zinn, Professor and Founder of Mindfulness Based Stress-Reduction
a painting of a woman washing clothes
David Gilmour Blythe, The Washerwoman, c. 1854-1858, Carnegie Museum of Art, Gift of the Richard King Mellon Foundation

Prepare for the week ahead with this guided meditation on daily tasks, inspired by David Gilmour Blythe’s painting, The Washerwoman.

Follow along with the audio or text below.

Step-by-Step Meditation

Meditation on Daily Tasks:


  1. Take a few moments to slow down and look at this work.
  2. Consider the repetition of the task the washerwoman is engaging in – washing clothes.
  3. Notice how she is gazing into the distance. Her mind appears to be focused on something other than the task before her.
  4. Think about something you do repetitively in your own life. How can you build more awareness into this activity?
  5. Now, close your eyes and work on cultivating mindfulness in the present moment.
  6. Begin by focusing on the breath. Feel the breath move in and out of your body. Then, bring your awareness to anything else that captures your attention in the moment, like the sensations you feel in your body or the sounds you hear around you.
  7. Continue noting the sounds and sensations around you to build awareness into the present moment.
  8. Challenge yourself to bring more mindfulness into your life by applying this same exercise to one task that you repeat daily in your life.

This work is on view in Scaife Gallery 3


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