New years are gifts from the gods, granted to harried mortals who’ve burned through the previous 12 months and are hungry for a do-over. The ceremonial turning of the calendar offers as close to that as any of us is likely to get.
It’s why the dawning of 2012, across a landscape that’s pocked with more battle scars and brewing despair than most of us can remember in our lifetime, could not be more welcome.
Best to exploit this next annual stretch by starting with a plan for renewal you might actually have a chance of achieving. In other words, rather than loading your January-stoked psyche with an ambitious schedule for transformation that your April-weary brain will consider too demanding, be realistic.
Enter the 60-second meditation.
Here, even in the midst of swirling economic chaos and unnerving global political turmoil (to say nothing of squalling children and impatient bosses), you insist upon a pocket of peace in your day.
Some ideas for seeing this modest — but extremely worthwhile — plan through:
• Drawing on the Zen Buddhist concept of “no-mind,” introduce a practice to your life of just being. For no more than a minute every day (or several times a day, if you can pull it off), stop everything. Shove the buzzing guilt and anxiety and worry that percolate in your brain into a vat and seal the lid for 60 seconds. Fill your head with nothing. Experience your surroundings, but don’t engage with them. Breathe. Observe. Repeat. It’s amazing the wonders a small dose of engineered silence can have on an overworked brain.
• An American doctor who writes about spirituality and health has developed a series of short videos designed to remind people of what really counts in life. Fresh off the publication of her new book, What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying, Dr. Karen Wyatt offers brief bursts of spiritual wisdom that people anxious for a new perspective can fold into their frenzied lives. She has released two “videobooks” at this point, and has plans to release another each month with eight in total. “Suffering” deals with the presence of misery in our everyday existence and posits that anguish is actually part of the path to transformation, and should therefore be embraced. The videos are each between one and two minutes in length. “While genuine spiritual growth can take a lifetime to accomplish,” Wyatt says, “transformation actually occurs in an instant.” Check out: http://www.karenwyattmd.com/videobook.htm.
• One-Minute Mindfulness: 50 Simple Ways to Find Peace, Clarity and New Possibilities in a Stressed-Out World is a new book by American psychotherapist Donald Altman. Alarmed by the overwhelming and ever-encroaching presence of technology in our lives and the way it keeps us from focusing on the present, Altman offers a prescription for quick-hit meditative escapes. His tome — part guidebook and part workbook — offers practical advice to help people learn how to build and sustain the essential awareness that will help them cope with the challenges of everyday life. Check out: http://www.chapters.indigo.ca/books/One-Minute-Mindfulness-Simple-Ways-Donald-Altman