The Best Way to Avoid Work: Desk Meditation

The Best Way to Avoid Work: Desk Meditation

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Working a desk job is a non-stop thrill ride. Every minute spent in an office keeps you engaged, enthusiastic and entertained. You’re sad when you leave, and you wake up excited to return.

If that describes you, this technique is not for you.

This technique is for those noble desk jockeys who are constantly looking for ways to escape the monotony of office labor. You need some way to pass the time.

That’s where desk meditation comes in. It’s a technique that I’ve developed over years of kung fu, yoga and office work. It allows you to look like you’re working, but you’re really in a total state of peace and tranquility.

You’re pondering the mysteries of the universe instead of wondering why your boss refuses to send emails without caps lock (it’s because he doesn’t know how to turn it off).

Avoid Work, Find Inner Peace, Get Paid

While it may seem like I’m joking, this is a technique I used for years before I became a freelance writer.

I won’t ask you to close your eyes, nor will I ask you to contort into a strange posture. You will look like you’re working.

You can practice this as you read through it. Bookmark this page and come back to it whenever you want to meditate at your desk. You can meditate whenever you’d like to avoid work.

It’s time to get started.

1. Desk Meditation Posture.

Elongate your spine by attempting to push your head against the ceiling. Don’t overdo it and attract attention, just sit straighter than usual.

Keep your hand on your mouse and the other hand on your keyboard. Don’t arouse any suspicion by placing your hands in your lap. Don’t even think about propping your head up with your hand.

Plant both feet firmly on the ground. If that’s unusual for you, you can cross your legs or sit however you normally do. The importance of the physical posture during meditation is over rated – it’s a mental game. As long as you’re comfortable, you’re fine.

2. Focus on your breath.

Now that you’re in the appropriate desk meditation posture, start breathing from your diaphragm, also known as your belly. If this is a foreign concept, next time you go on lunch or break, put your hand on your stomach. Try to push your hand away when you inhale. Don’t do it at your desk – you don’t want to attract attention.

Shift your focus to your breath. Stop reading after this sentence and take five long inhales and exhales (start reading again after that).

Welcome back. Now, count to 6 seconds with each inhale and exhale. Do this five more times, then move to step 3.

3. Mimic Work.

By now your boss and coworkers might be getting suspicious. It’s time to start mimicking work. Keep breathing slowly and counting your inhales and exhales.

Your work is likely a combination of clicking and typing. We need to mimic that before we go further into the meditation.

Complete the below form. Don’t worry, none of the buttons will take you anywhere or do anything. It’s just to make it look like you’re working.

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

What is your favorite color and why?

Do this:
 Check This Check This

 Uncheck those Re-check those

 Uncheck all of them

What are you thinking right now?

Check three of those boxes again.

Right click here for no reason:

If you could tell your future self one thing, what would it be?

 Check this box

Complete the above form a few more times at varying speeds if you want to look like you’re really getting stuff done.

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

Make a face like you’re a little annoyed about something. Audibly exhale to show you’re disappointed. Don’t be too loud as to provoke a response. Now shake your head ever so slightly. Perfect.

Return to the above form whenever you feel the need to mimic work. We’re about to get deeper.

4. Shift Your Focus to the Senses

Shifting your attention to your senses will help focus your mind on the present moment. It will also increase your appreciation of food, breathing and life in general. Go slowly through each sense and give it your full attention.

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

Twin Lotus

(this is a metaphor for your mind)

Sight: After this paragraph, stare at the image to the right. As you look at it, shift your attention to your peripheral vision. Without moving your eyeballs, how far can you see to your left and your right? Focus on any object you can see in your peripheral. A coworker, another computer, a cheesy calendar, pictures of loved ones. Do this for as long as you like, then move on to the next sense.

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

Hearing: Shift your attention to the sounds going on around you. If you’re listening to music, find the intricacies of the melody and harmony. Otherwise, listen intently to noises around the office. See how far you can stretch your hearing. Can you hear the coffee maker dripping? Forced laughter down the hall? What else can you hear?

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

Touch: Keep one hand on your keyboard and one on the mouse. Focus on how each of the surfaces feel. Now, extend this focus to your entire body. Consider that every inch of skin is capable of sensing touch the same way that your hands do. Focus on how your skin feels against your clothes and how your feet feel in your shoes.

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

Taste: Roll your tongue around in your mouth a little. Don’t be obvious or weird about it, just a few minor movements. Can you taste the last thing you ate? If you have a snack nearby, have a bite. Chew intentionally slow. Allow the taste of your snack to have all of your attention. How many different flavors do you sense?

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

Smell: Breathe even slower, and breathe through your nose. Feel the way the air wafts through your nostrils. What scents can you pick up? Did the person next to you put on too much perfume? Is someone heating up their lunch in the break room?

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

You might want to scroll up and mimic some work before moving forward.

5. Start Observing Your Thoughts.

By now, you may be in a slightly altered state. Focusing on your senses helps increase your awareness of the present moment. Let’s take that to the next level.

Thoughts and emotions are endlessly flowing through your consciousness. Contemplate this fact – you are not your thoughts nor your emotions. You are that which observes them.

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

With that understanding, begin to watch your flow of thoughts like a movie reel playing in front of you. Step into the role of the observer. Realize that, unlike a movie, you can slow down your thoughts. Try to add a pause at the end of each one. Increase that pause to two seconds, then three, and so on. How much space can you put between thoughts?

6. Become Aware of Your Chi.

Chi, prana, life force – it’s the essence of life that flows through us all. With your senses in focus and your thoughts tamed, you’re in a perfect state to become aware of your chi.

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

Visualize a cool, gentle liquid running throughout your body. Assign it a color, perhaps your favorite color. Visualize it flowing into your toes, legs, waist, torso, arms, fingers, neck and skull.  Imagine how it might move from one part of your body to the next.

Now, imagine this colorful liquid entering and leaving your body at certain points: the top of your head, your palms, and the soles of your feet.

Chiang Rai White Temple

Chiang Rai White Temple

Keep breathing deeply from your belly.

Allow this visualized liquid to flow however it wishes, and observe that flow. How does it feel? Take that same focus you developed on your senses and apply it to your chi – the flowing liquid.

Pinpoint your attention at a certain point in the flow, such as your left hand. Allow your pinpointed attention to flow along with the chi up your left arm, into your shoulder and through your neck. Watch as it flows to your right shoulder, down your right arm and into your right hand.

Repeat this pinpointed focus and directed flow at any point in your body.

7. Time to Come Down.

How are you feeling? If you followed these instructions intently and purposefully, you might be feeling a bit buzzed. I like to call it a meditation high.

If you don’t feel anything, keep repeating this meditation. Since you can do it at work, why not do it every day? Eventually, you’ll start feeling a beautifully altered state that will focus your mind, clear your thoughts and help you appreciate every moment of life.

But, you have work to do. It’s time to come down.

Continue to breathe slowly. Imagine that you have a snowball two inches behind your belly button. As you breathe in, imagine the liquid (chi) is gathering at this focus point. As you exhale, picture the chi compacting into a snowball. Repeat this process for 5-10 breaths.

This focus point is called dan tien and is the Taoist center of energy for your body. Gathering and storing chi here will give you extra energy for the rest of the day. Doing this every day is said to have many profound effects, but I’ll let you discover those on your own.

Now, Get Back to Work – Or Read Other Stuff

We’re not paying you to reach enlightenment, buddy. You have TPS reports to file.

Seriously though, make sure you don’t get in any trouble. If the coast is clear, you can learn more about the breathing technique we used here. Also, parts of this meditation are expanded upon here.

If you have to get back to work, practice tidbits of this meditation while you’re going about your business. Focus on the senses, connect with your chi and do some deep breathing.

This meditation takes elements of kung fu, yoga and their corresponding philosophies. I did this desk meditation all the time at office jobs and it helped me get through the day. I hope it helps you do the same.

Keep meditating, keep breathing.

4 Responses to The Best Way to Avoid Work: Desk Meditation

  1. Rachel says:

    Love this! Sheer genius!

  2. Amy Hayati says:

    LOL! OMGoodness this is so awesome and hilarious at the exact same time! I want to secretly send this out to all my fellow University of Phoenix co-workers. I remember cubical-hell life. Counting down the pain staking hours, minutes, seconds as soon as you got there just to leave. On Monday people would great you saying “Only 5 more days to go”. It was like we were in prison. It was torture. I wish I would have read this article way back when! I’m going to spread the word to every poor soul stuck at a desk. This idea could single handedly change the whole world! Travis, you have done it again! You are Genius! <3

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