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Up to this point in the 30-day course, you have been focused on the practical benefits of meditation. Today, you will learn the benefits of doing a Portable Minute for no practical reason at all.
Somewhere in your day, there is probably a minute in which you don't really have to do anything. This might seem like wasted time, time to fill or time to kill. So you might try to fill it by checking your email (again), going on Facebook (again) or flicking through the channels (again).
But now that you have been practicing the Portable Minute, there is a fair chance that if you ask yourself what you would really like to do during this wasted time, you might find there is nothing you would like to do more than a Portable Minute. This is the Surprise Minute.
In other words, you are not doing a Minute because you are stressed or because it's an emergency, but just because you like doing one—just because you are starting to discover that empty time can be more delightful than whatever you might have filled it with.
If you choose to use one of these wasted minutes for a Surprise Minute, you might even find your experience of time starts to change. You might find your day starts to feel a bit more spacious. You will still be getting just as much done, but you will experience a bit more space around the things you do. You might start to see this wasted time as gifted time.
Your assignment today is simple: During any gaps or "wasted" time, notice if you really have to fill that time. Are you checking your phone because you have to or because it's become a habit? If you catch a moment where maybe you don't have to fill that time, ask yourself how it might feel to do a Minute. And if you feel like doing one, please don't deny yourself.
If you are feeling ambitious, you can try a more advanced version of the Surprise Minute, in which you set yourself up to be surprised. Just ask someone to surprise you by suggesting that you do a Minute. Or decide to do a Surprise Minute today whenever you become aware of something, like the squawk of a seagull or the blare of a siren. If you'd like me to surprise you, every so often, just let me know.
To be honest, there is actually one very practical benefit of the Surprise Minute—it trains you to be ready to meditate at a moment's notice. This will come in very handy tomorrow, as we get ready to meet that moment.
Martin Boroson is a playful, practical new voice in the next wave of meditation teachers. Author of One-Moment Meditation: Stillness for People on the Go, he lectures on the benefits of a meditative mind for decision-making and leadership. Marty studied philosophy at Yale, earned an MBA from the Yale School of Management and is a formal student of Zen. Visit his website for One-Moment Meditation® help and resources, tweet him at @takeamoment or find him on Facebook.
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Did you try the Surprise Minute? What about the advanced version of it? Let us know—leave your comments and questions below!
Published on April 13, 2010