Mindfulness meditation has long been a staple of many Eastern religions. Much research suggests that Westerners can benefit from a mindfulness practice, even when not attached to any sort of religious belief. Mindfulness practice seems to be especially beneficial to individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders.
Beginning and engaging in regular meditation, however, can be a challenge for many Westerners. The practice itself can feel alien and awkward, and anxiety sufferers especially seem to become distracted by the somatic or physical sensations that may come up during traditional meditation practice.
The answer is Minute Mindfulness, a simple way to allow mindfulness practice to be more accessible to a Western audience.
What Is Minute Mindfulness?
It’s the commitment to practicing being in the present, just for a single minute. Ideally, practitioners work up to five minutes or more a day, but in the beginning just one minute is enough. It involves an activity that allows the practitioner to focus on the present, explore all physical sensations in the present moment and offer gratitude for the experience.
Why just a minute?
In the beginning, the amount of time spent practicing mindfulness isn’t as important as getting started. Many people find the idea of meditating for five minutes to be a bit daunting. For those who are experiencing depression or anxiety it can be difficult to feel motivated to do anything at all. In these cases it is better to practice mindfulness for a minute (or even less) a day then to do nothing at all. So the idea is to start small and give it a try.
How Can I Begin to Practice?
A good place to begin is with a simple eating meditation. Pick a healthy treat to eat, maybe an apple, and commit to being present in the experience for just one minute. Remove all distractions—the television, the phone, any other electronics—in order to fully focus on the experience of eating the apple.
Before you take your first bite, take a moment to study the apple:
How does the apple smell?
How does the apple feel in your hand?
What does the apple look like?
As you slowly, intentionally eat the apple, focus on all the new sensations:
What is the sensation of your teeth breaking the skin of the apple?
How does the bite of apple feel in your mouth?
How would you describe the sound of the apple as you chew?
Insofar as possible, you want to incorporate and focus on any and all physical sensations. It may be helpful to describe these out loud to yourself, as a way to maintain focus.
When you are finished, stop, breathe and experience gratitude for the apple and for the experience. You might think to yourself, “It’s amazing to be alive in a time that I can enjoy a ripe apple any day of the year.” Or you might gratefully acknowledge the moment by thinking, “I forgot how wonderful it is to enjoy something so healthy and delicious. I’m glad I took the time to do that.”
This is one simple method you can use to begin a practice of Minute Mindfulness.
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