You can even do the Portable Minute in what seems like an emergency. I don't mean a life-or-death emergency, because there are very few of those. In a real life-or-death emergency, either you know what to do instantly, someone else knows what to do instantly or, well, someone's dead.
Most other emergencies are not life-or-death. Like when you get a flat tire, when your flight is cancelled, when your boss just made the deadline earlier, when you're late for the train, when you can't find your wallet or when your computer crashes.
Because these situations don't require instant action, there is (unfortunately) plenty of time for you to panic—or at least to worry about the situation far too much.
But panic doesn't help anybody or anything. If you panic, it's like ringing your own alarm bells—you stop yourself from thinking clearly, you keep yourself from doing anything useful and you quite possibly make things worse. In other words, the real emergency is not what you are panicking about, but the fact that you are panicking.
The Emergency Minute is simply a Portable Minute that you do in a situation that feels like an emergency (but isn't really one). To make sure you are truly able to do an Emergency Minute when you need one, however, you need to practice the Portable Minute regularly. You have to be in the habit of doing a Minute at a moment's notice.
Doing an Emergency Minute gives you a chance to get a grip on yourself, to evaluate the options and to approach the situation rationally. It helps you calm down before making a decision. More importantly, it stops you from making things worse, and it keeps the panic from spreading to other people.
If your panic response is severe, you can do several Emergency Minutes in a row, but take them one minute at a time. In other words, do one Emergency Minute, see how you're feeling and then do another one if you need to.
When you're panicked, you tend to believe time is running out, so the thought of doing more than a minute of meditation would probably terrify you. But one minute might just be something you can handle. After one minute, you might be more open to doing another if you need one.
So for today, just notice any time your panic response kicks in (even mildly) and consider whether the situation is really worth panicking about. If there is even the slightest chance that it isn't worth panicking, do an Emergency Minute.
In the meantime, try doing a Portable Minute now.
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 need to do the Emergency Minute today? Are you still practicing the Portable Minute? Let us know how it's going—leave your comments and questions below!