Chop wood, carry water, stem chipotles, seed anchos

If you’re looking for a mindfulness exercise, I recommend working with dried chili peppers.

Food preparation is the closest I come to meditative exercise anyway. Preparing the chiles means removing the stems and seeds manually, which requires attention to detail. It’s absorbing and keeps me in the moment. And if I lose my mindful presence with the task, I’ll inevitably touch my eye or nose or some tender spot with a hand covered in dust and seeds from very hot peppers. This is as good as a Zen monk hitting me in the face with a stick. Instantly, I am back in the moment.

Mindfulness, focus, attention, process, an absence of distraction, and finally: chili paste. So even if I am not a step closer to enlightenment, the next few dinners are greatly improved.