Meditation in Your Day

California Poppies

One of the first series I started posting on Om Fairy was the 1-minute meditation series. It started with a hike up St. Joseph’s Hill and California poppies blowing with the grass in the wind. I decided to take a minute and video this peaceful scene so I could have it at hand anytime. Then I thought, why not share it with the world? The 1-minute meditation series was born.

Now, I know back in the day when I was more pessimistic, I would have asked: What is the point? Does 1 minute really do any good? Is this really meditation?

Let’s start with the first question. What’s the point? The point is to give your brain a rest from whatever it is focused intently on, or a break from whatever is successfully distracting it from it’s point of focus. Research suggests that at most adults can concentrate on a single task or thing for 20 minutes before losing focus, but taking a break or focusing on something else for a few moments helps to re-focus attention on the task at hand. Time management methods such as the pomodoro technique capitalize on this idea of focusing in intervals to maximize on output and efficiency. While the pomodoro technique suggests a 5 minute break for every 25 minutes spent working, I know for most busy professionals, 5 minutes seems to be a lot. So take 1 minute to have a nature break, and maybe another minute for some eye exercises, deep breathing, or simply stand up, depending on what you do during your day.

While getting out and about in nature would be a better way to take a break from your day and relieve stress, this usually takes more than 1 minute, especially for those who work in larger buildings or complexes. When I worked at the Nelson-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, the sculpture garden was a wonderful place to get away to and take a walk, but getting out of the museum took a good 5 minutes from where my office was to where I was allowed to exit the building. So while I often made use of this wonderful perk once a day, the other hours slipped by slowly in a room with no windows, gray cubicle walls, and low fluorescent lighting.

Researchers have found that a stroll through a natural setting can provide a performance boost for activities that require sustained focus. So if you have the time to spare and the natural setting handy, I urge you to find a few more minutes and get outside. Just note – a stroll along a busy street doesn’t provide the same effect. The good news is focusing on a picture (or a video in this case) of a natural setting also provides this cognitive boost. As I mentioned in more detail on my article Training Ourselves to See the Positive, much of the input to our brains is through simulation of an event, yet our brain reacts as if we were actually experiencing the event. Thus, taking a minute to relax to a virtual nature scene can provide the similar sensations of actually being in the scene.

So does 1 minute really do us any good? Is this really meditation? I thought I needed to sit in a pretzel position and close my eyes and stop all thought for a few hours until my body went numb.

Not quite. Meditation is simply focus. There are a number of ways to meditate. One is to sit in padmasana and attempt to transcend thoughts. Or, we can choose to focus on something else. A mantra. A sound. Our surroundings. Our thoughts. An object. A scene. Anything will do, and it can be done anywhere. The only requisite is you focus, and focusing for a minute is a great place to start. Eventually you’ll find it easier to take that break and find your focus. Maybe 2 minutes will be the next step. Or maybe one minute is all you need!

See all of the 1-minute meditation videos here. Try one, two, or all of them and let me know how they impact you!

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