One-Moment Meditation® Day 8: Introducing the Portable Minute
The next time you do a Basic Minute, instead of just focusing on your breath, I want you to count your breaths. Count the first inhalation as one, the first exhalation as two, the second inhalation as three and so forth. Do this all the way until your alarm sounds, and then note the count. This is the number of breaths you take in a relatively relaxed minute. Don't worry how low or high your count is, and don't compare yourself to other people—there is no right number.
Once you have your own personal breath count, you are ready to do a Portable Minute. Just get in position for the Basic Minute, do your warm-up and bring your attention to your breathing. Then, instead of using the timer, simply count your breaths up to that breath count. You will then have meditated for approximately one minute...without a timer.
Now you can grab a Minute in all sorts of situations where it's not appropriate to use a timer: You can do it in bed when your partner is asleep next to you; you can do it in the theater when you're waiting for the curtain to go up; you can do it when you're nursing your baby; you can do it in school during an exam, if you're anxious; you can do it in a meeting when you're bored. No one even has to know!
Some people find the Portable Minute easier to do than a Basic Minute, because the counting gives them a strong focus. Other people find it harder because the counting seems too intellectual, or they get worried about losing count and they forget about their breathing.
Although the counting does require some focus, it's important to make sure your mind still relaxes into your breathing. Eventually it should seem as if the counting and breathing are not separate. It may take some practice before this feels comfortable, but you'll find your rhythm in time.
If you are not experiencing the same level of peacefulness in a Portable Minute that you used to have in a Basic Minute, just go back to the Basic Minute for a while. There's no rush with this. You can still continue this 30-day course and pick up the new exercises when you're ready.
But it's important that you treat the Portable Minute just as seriously as a Basic Minute, even though it's not quite as formal. On a busy day, you might be tempted to stop the Portable Minute when there are just a couple of breaths left, on the theory that you’re "almost there." But those final few breaths—the ones that come just after you considered stopping but decided to keep going because you are truly dedicated—are often the best. So please, go all the way.
Practice the Portable Minute once a day, every day, for the next six days. Meanwhile, I will teach you some of my favorite applications of the Portable Minute. I'm sure you're going to find some of your own uses for this very helpful technique, so please leave a comment below and share them with us!
Feel free to try the Portable Minute standing up too. This is very useful when you're stuck in a long line or on a crowded subway. Do everything else the same—making sure your body is balanced, stable and still—and make sure not to wander around.
If you find you are doing a Portable Minute several times a day, that's okay too. I want you to get nice and comfortable with a minute before we start heading for a 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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