How to Meditate In One Minute
By Matthew Joyce
Recently I ran into a friend of mine at the gym. As we were pedaling side by side, she shared with me how much stress she is experiencing. She told me of her fears of losing her job, the stress she feels worrying about money, and even the strain on her marriage caused by the on-going anxiety she experiences every day. She said, “I really need to get back into meditating.”
This started me thinking about how practically everyone I speak with these days is experiencing some form of tension or anxiety, whether it is generally related to the current economic situation or it is uniquely personal like my friend’s marital issues. The stress is almost palpable and sweating it out on a stationary bike isn’t necessarily enough to relieve it.
But if you’re like many busy people, you barely have time to get to the gym to exercise, or do the laundry and run to the post office, let alone having time to sit on pillows and meditate with candles lit while listening to soft music. In fact, if you are like my friend the very thought of adding in another time-consuming obligation to your jam-packed schedule might be enough to send you running to the freezer for a tub of chubby hubby ice cream.
But what if you didn’t need frozen spoonfuls of chocolate chunk ice cream or an hour of meditation every day to relieve that stress? What if you could enjoy the benefits of meditation without changing your schedule, shutting out the world, or even altering a single item on your to-do list?
You can. And the best part about it is that it only takes a minute. That’s right. Just 60 seconds. Literally.
Introducing the One Minute Meditation
The one minute meditation is a quick and easy way for you to access what I call the Still Point. It’s a skill I teach in my Awareness Workshop. But I’m going to share the free, short version so you can start feeling more relaxed in 60 seconds or less with a simple meditation.
Meditation is a practice of quieting your mind, freeing yourself from intrusive thoughts, and gaining a sense of peace at the center of your being. It’s been around for thousands of years and millions of people around the world use it to help them with everything from relaxation to deepening their spiritual practices, and from pain relief to just plain getting more enjoyment out of life.
Many people think of meditation as a ritualized routine involving sitting very still, using specialized posture and breathing techniques, keeping your eyes closed and practicing letting go of all thoughts that come through you mind. Practitioners work diligently on these techniques for years as they pursue a process of perfecting them, gaining life-long benefits to their health, relationships, spiritual growth and peace of mind. But meditation doesn’t have to be a complicated affair.
If you think about it, the components that make up meditation can be broken down into three parts. The first part involves slowing yourself down. This is the deliberate act of stopping what you are doing and changing the tone of the moment. The second part is about shifting the focus of your awareness. The third part is about reaching the still point where you find true relaxation and relief from stress.
How to Meditate In One Minute or Less
Here’s how you can use this three part system to create a meditative state in one minute or less.
First, notice when you are feeling stress. It may be obvious, such as when a round of layoffs makes you fearful of losing your job or when your boss says you need to work through the weekend and you already have other plans. But it may also be as subtle as noticing your unusual annoyance with a laundry stain or an uncharacteristic sense of impatience with a postal clerk. It’s times like this when you find yourself sighing in frustration or when you feel the color rising in your cheeks that are clues signaling you to pause and reframe how you are experiencing the moment.
To start the meditation, focus on your breathing. One of the side effects of stress is that your breathing can become shallow. This can make you tenser and it actually deprives your brain of oxygen. So take a nice big cleansing breath that fills your lungs and reaches all the way down through your abdomen. Fill your entire being with positive and refreshing breaths. Breathe in and out slowly and deeply several times. You can do this anywhere, and you don’t even need to close your eyes (especially if you are driving!).
As you breathe, concentrate on relaxing your muscles, especially the ones in your neck and shoulders. This is where most people carry nervous tension. If your stress center is somewhere else, then focus on relaxing that part of your body too. Move your shoulders up and down a few times to let the relaxation penetrate all through the area. Relax the muscles in your face; eyebrows, mouth and especially your jaw. Feel yourself relaxing more with every cleansing breath.
After several breaths, focus your attention on the tiny moment in between your breaths. This is the moment where your breath turns between the inhalation and the exhalation. Even though it may only last a fraction of second, there is a point when you are completely still. This Still Point between breaths is always available to you as a place of stillness and peace. Although it is fleeting, the next moment of stillness will arrive with your very next breath, and strung together you can have as many still points as you need.
Once you recognize these fleeting points of stillness, it becomes possible to observe that in those briefest of moments everything is OK. Your mind may be churning as you dwell on the past or it may be racing ahead to some imagined future, but at the very particular moment when your breath is turning, everything is fine. Really.
Although this exercise takes just a minute it can be a surprisingly powerful way to change your experience. Because when you access the Still Point and feel a sense of well being, even for just a moment, you shift your attention from thinking and feeling “This is not OK” to experiencing for yourself that “All is well.” This shift is enough to start a chain reaction that can improve your perception of your situation, alleviate your stress, and enable you to move ahead with clarity and ease. And, of course, the effects are cumulative. So the more you work with it, the more effective it becomes.
That’s All There Is to It
To sum up, you can meditate in one minute by:
3) Finding the Still Points
Just add these steps into whatever you are doing at the time, and you’ll have meditated in 60 seconds or less. If you practice several times per day when you feel tension rising or simply to prevent it from accumulating, you’ll feel more relaxed, centered, and better able to deal with the situation at hand.
Don’t worry, the gym is still a good place to work out your tension and share support with your friends. But the one minute meditation can help you find relief amidst your busy schedule and advance you on your spiritual path all at the same time.
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