I’ve been reading 8 Mindful Steps to Happiness, one of the most accessible and lucid guides to cultivating awareness, by the beloved Buddhist teacher Ven. Bhante Henelopa Gunaratana. In the chapter titled “Beginning a Practice of Mindfulness,” in discussing what beginners can do to be present, he describes a simple exercise called “One-Minute Mindfulness.” Here’s what he writes:
When you get up from your sitting meditation, make a determination to meditate for one minute of every hour throughout the day. … Spend fifty-nine minutes of every hour doing whatever you do during the day. But for one minute of that hour, stop whatever you are doing and meditate. You might even set your wristwatch or computer to beep every hour as a reminder.
When you hear the beep, put whatever you have been doing out of your mind and close your eyes. Stay focused on your breathing. If you think you won’t know how long a minute is, breathe in and out fifteen times giving undivided attention to the breath. If you spend longer than a minute, don’t worry about it. You’re not losing anything.
When the minute is up, before opening your eyes resolve to meditate again for a minute at the end of the next hour. Look forward to that minute and build up enthusiasm for it. Also ask yourself, “When am I going to sit and meditate again?”
If you repeat this simple method, by the end of the day, you will have done ten or fifteen minutes of additional meditation. Moreover, by the end of the day, your wish to sit in meditation — strengthened by your thinking of it every hour — will help you find the motivation to sit for a while before bed.
End your day with half an hour of sitting meditation. When you go to bed, keep your mind on your breath as you fall asleep. If you wake up at night, bring your mind to the breath. When you wake up the next morning, your mind will still be on your breath, reminding you to begin your day with sitting meditation.
Taking one minute every hour to breathe is a simple yet powerful way to press a little reset button in your brain: it creates a tiny space free of negative thoughts and all the worries that you might have. This short mindfulness exercise should be combined with daily breathing meditation practice.
About the book’s author: Ven. Bhante Henelopa Gunaratana, born on December 7, 1927, ordained at 20, spent significant years in India and Malaysia spreading Buddhism before moving to the US. There, he earned a PhD in philosophy from American University, becoming the first Bhikkhu to do so in the country. A prolific author, his book 8 Mindful Steps to Happiness gained global recognition.
Hi, I’m Gavril, the guy behind this blog. What you see here is the combination of my three favorite things: reading, writing, and mindfulness. While you’re here, subscribe to my blog updates and gain access to free mindfulness resources for stress relief.