Hey Folks: I’m going to try publishing series called “Four Mindful Minutes” each Monday morning. The idea is to provide you with simple, interesting and entertaining – if sometimes slightly uncomfortable – ways to apply the principle of mindfulness to your daily life – even if it’s just four minutes per week. Deliberately doing something out of the ordinary is a great way to reveal our unconscious habits of mind and body. Enjoy! And please share with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!
The Morning Minute: The Slo-Mo Shower
Introduction: If you’re anything like me, showers are often just another stage of sleep. I’m not actively cleaning my body. I’m just sort of standing there, hoping I’m dreaming and that it’s actually only 2AM. This is good news; it means today’s Morning Minute won’t take any extra time, just an itty-bitty commitment to using your time more purposefully – just this once. (Remember, friends, all Mindful Minutes are miniature experiments – we ain’t asking you to commit to doing this for life. Sheesh!).
Instructions: Take your shower exactly as you would on any morning. Today, though, do everything at one-quarter the pace. Tuuurn ooooon the fauuuuuucet. Steeeep intoooo the tuuuuuub. Reeeeeeach foooooor the soooooooap. You get the idea. Take note of the impulse to rush. Take note of a complaining mind. Take note of a mind that dismisses such exercises as silly and remember you’re allowed to mix it up every once in a while. Ask yourself the Secret Question: What did engaging in this Mindful Minute reveal to me about my habits of mind?
The Midday Minute: Step-by-Step
Introduction: For most of us, lunchtime marks some kind of physical transition from one environment to another. Out of the office, down the hallway, to the elevator, through the lobby, out the door, to the hot dog stand – or whatever. This Midday Minute simply asks you to cast aside your phone’s daily step counter and go analogue by using your mind to count your steps. I know, I’m such a luddite.
Instructions: As you move from your work environment to your lunch destination, simply count each step until you return to your work environment. The idea here is not to do something with the number – compare it to yesterday’s or to other people’s numbers - it’s just to see what happens. It might mean not speaking to other people, it might mean looking at your feet instead of smiling at everyone you see. So be it. Don’t forget the Secret Question: What did engaging in this Mindful Minute reveal to me about my habits mind?
The Moonlight Minute: Nothing/Something
Introduction: You know that chore you’ve been ignoring? Yeah, that one. Well, I want you to not do it. Yes, for your Moonlight Minute, by all means, don’t do it. Instead, rehearse doing it 3-5 times; that is, go through all the physical motions necessary to perform (or start performing) the action, but don’t actually do it (unless, you find yourself so inspired).
Instructions: Choose a household chore. Write down all the physical actions necessary to complete it – be ridiculously specific (i.e. Get up from table, move ten paces to hallway closet, place hand on door knob, turn doorknob to left …). Once you have it all written down, rehearse the script – do exactly what it says three to five times careful not to actually complete the chore and paying mindful attention as you go. When you’re done, ask the Secret Question.
The Midnight Minute: Hand-Me Up
Introduction: Today’s Midnight Minute asks you to forgo some TV-time or tablet-time or whatever you typically do to stimulate your brain before attempting to drift off to sleep (Gosh, I’m feeling snarky!) in favor of looking at those forgotten appendages: The Hands. This exercise is sure to bring out the inner-stoner in you by getting the mind really interested in something that’s with us – cradle to grave – but that we rarely pay attention to.
Instructions: Sit up in bed, lights on. If applicable, tell your partner not to please not ask questions. Place your hands in front of you, palms-up, and … just look. You’re not looking for imperfections or problems (oh, wouldn’t the mind just love that). You’re not reading your future. You’re just looking to see what’s there – the size and length of lines, the different shades of color, the different patterns. When you get bored, keep looking. Take note of the differences between the left and the right hand. What do you notice? How does your mind/body feel as compared to the way you usually “wind down” for bed? Ask the Secret Question one last time: What did engaging in this Mindful Minute reveal to me about my habits of mind?