Enlightenment in a Snow Shovel.


You have probably heard the Buddhist quotation, “Before enlightenment I carry water and sweep the floor.  After enlightenment I carry water and sweep the floor.”

For me it’s shoveling snow.  I used to hate shoveling snow.

The new Yoga me loves shoveling snow, is ecstatic shoveling snow.

I love the feel of bundling up and putting on my Norwegian ski cap.  I notice all the little details, like the snowflake pattern on the cap.  I love the bracing cold that hits my face as I step outside onto the driveway.  I love the feel of the shovel in my hands as I pick it off the rack in the garage.  I relish the Currier and Ives winter scene before me.

I enjoy the distinctive sound of the shovel as it scrapes across the pavement.  I love the way the snow parts on either side of the shovel.  I think about each individual snowflake and each individual atom making up each snowflake.

I marvel at the complexity of the movements of my body as it effortlessly and unthinkingly walks and turns and bends and throws and lifts.  I feel the blood quickening through my arteries as it rushes to supply my muscles with fuel.

I feel the satisfaction of accomplishment as I clear more and more of the driveway.  I finally go to where the driveway meets the street and happily do the much harder work of lifting the thicker, wetter, icier snow that accumulates there.

I love the powerful presence of the city snow truck as it plows by and dumps a foot of snow from the street back onto the end of my driveway — WAIT A MINUTE.  There are limits to this Yoga stuff.  I really don’t like that!


See also

Yoga Demystified: The Six Big Ideas.

Yoga Demystified: Poems and  Articles.

Gita in a Nutshell:
Big Ideas & Best Quotations.

8 replies on “Enlightenment in a Snow Shovel.”

yeah the huge mound blocking the end of the driveway is maybe taking this zen like appreciation of shoveling a little too far…but I love all the body awareness and sense of presence you have expressed in the simple (yet hard work) of snow shoveling…and I'm so grateful that it's MY HUSBANDS job to deal with our lengthy, uphill driveway.


Being disabled, I would love to be able to once again shovel snow. I love your descriptions of the process. I watched my apartment neighbor shoveling our parking lot, cleaning off everyone's cars, sweeping the front porches and shoveling the front sidewalks. He really enjoyed it. He piled up the snow around the evergreens to make snow caves for the rabbits and scattered carrots.

I would have loved to help.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s