Every minute counts.
Every minute is an opportunity to experience joy, calm, peace or fun — no matter what you’re doing, no matter where you are. The key is to be mindful.
“If there is a single secret to one-minute mindfulness, it is this: live the next sixty seconds as if your whole life depended on them, with a sense of urgency and excitement, or as if you had just arrived in a foreign land where there is nothing expected, hackneyed, or taken for granted,” writes author and psychotherapist Donald Altman, MA, LPC, in his book One Minute Mindfulness: 50 Simple Ways to Find Peace, Clarity, and New Possibilities in a Stressed-Out World.
In the book, Altman features exercises for all areas of our lives: at home; at work; for relationships; for health and well-being; and for nature and spirituality. He helps readers go from our usual autopilot ways to opening our eyes and understanding the magic in every minute or moment.
Here are five one-minute activities from One Minute Mindfulness that you can practice every day to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.
1. Consider one small act of kindness you can do for someone.
For instance, in a minute, you can send a sweet email or give a compliment, Altman writes. If you don’t see anyone that day, he suggests being kind to yourself. It also helps to take a minute and remember a kind gesture from someone else that really made a difference in your life.
2. Bring a dose of creativity to your workday.
Work no doubt takes up a large portion of our days. And no doubt the tasks can quickly become tedious. Fortunately, being mindful “can help you tap into a deeper sense of purpose and turn on the lamp of creativity,” Altman writes. He suggests striving to do one small creative thing at work or saying an affirmation, such as “The treasure of creativity is available to me at all times,” or “I let go of expectation and let creativity come to me.”
3. Find pleasantness at work.
Altman notes that this is one of the most profound practices. “Pleasantness is an anchor that helps us center by locating the peace that is ever-present, even when it is hidden.” You can find pleasantness in a song, a sound, a scent or a blade of grass, he says. All you have to do is scan your surroundings. Altman also suggests bringing a pleasant object to work – such as a photo of a loved one – or having something portable with you at all times.
4. Calm anxious thoughts with a pebble.
Altman compares an anxious mind to a raging river. But it’s possible to find a safe place underneath the turbulent waves. You can do this by repeating a neutral word. Choose a word that doesn’t bring up any memories, associations or feelings, he says. He gives the following examples: one, peace, calm, neutral. “The pebble’s purpose is to distance you from the turbulence and settle you into the deep, still water, where you can see all around clearly,” he writes. When other thoughts pop up, just view them as shiny fish swimming past.
5. Gaze at the sky and moon.
According to Altman, gazing at the sky and moon allows us to embrace wholeness and fosters pure awareness. He cited a quote from British philosopher and Zen practitioner Alan Watts on our interdependency with nature: “You’re breathing. The wind is blowing. The trees are waving. Your nerves are tingling. The individual and the universe are inseparable, but the curious thing is, very few people are aware of it. Everything in nature depends on everything else. So it’s interconnected…When you look out of your eyes at nature happening out there, you’re looking at you.”
As you start gazing, Altman suggests noticing your breath and if any tension or emotions are present. Then look out to the vast sky, paying attention, moment to moment, he says. You also can think of a specific problem or challenge you’ve been having and “release it to the spaciousness of the sky as you gaze. Whatever your challenge, let it be part of the big perspective and the big wisdom that exist in nature, free from the small you that holds on to it.”
Don’t let the minutes whiz by. Open your eyes, and notice the beauty surrounding you. Just one minute can make a difference in your days.