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A few tips can take you a long way in your pursuit of a meditative baking experience and allow you to calm your mind while baking.
When mixing the dough, try adding half the flour to the liquid and letting it sit for 30 minutes before adding the rest of the flour. This way, the flour absorbs the liquid, so you’ll use less flour and end up with easier-to-knead dough and softer bread. Greasing your hands before kneading works just as well as flouring them.
Use a nonreactive bowl, such as glass or stainless steel, for the fermentation stage. Let the dough rise in a warm part of the kitchen, but avoid too-warm conditions—slow-rise bread is the most flavorful.
Sprinkle cornmeal in the greased baking pan to prevent sticking. If the loaf is browning prematurely, cover it with aluminum foil. Dusting loaves with bread flour just before baking will give them a rustic appearance. When hearth bread is done baking, turn off the oven and leave it there for five minutes to help it retain its crust.
While the dough is rising, try practicing a style of meditation called shamatha, a Sanskrit word that means “calm abiding.” In this Buddhist meditation, sit and observe nothing but the natural rise and fall of the breath. Count 10 to 15 breaths (one count after a full inhalation and exhalation) and allow your mind to rest for a few moments in a state of calm. Repeat several times.
See also The Joy of Baking