Minute Meditations: Zen Out, American Style

When you imagine someone meditating, you may envision a long-haired New Age-r chanting OM or a robed guru floating above the ground, third eye glowing.

Regardless of what first comes to mind, for a lot of people, it’s not themselves. I’ve heard people say they don’t meditate because it’s not their religion. Or because they can’t sit still for that  long. Or they don’t know how to do it.

But, meditation is for everybody. It’s spending quiet time in the only place you can truly be undisturbed: your own mind.

And meditation is really good for you. The benefits of mental peace-n-quiet have been touted for decades now (in the U.S. public sphere).

But the reality is, 99% of people recognize the benefits of doing some form of meditation and will never do it.

It’s hard to have a consistent practice of “doing nothing” for 20 minutes a day, especially with the way most Americans have been conditioned. High-paced, GO GO GO, “I play as hard as I work” doesn’t bode well with meditation.

It also doesn’t bode well for health. Why do you think heart disease, cancer, and obesity are such problems in the US?

We, as a society, are out of touch with ourselves. And meditation, however you do it or whatever you call it, can do a lot for you.

Lower heart rate. Better digestion. Law of Attraction. Astral projection.

There is one main benefit of meditation that isn’t astral projection, psychic powers, or unforeseen riches:


Meditation is how to rise above the maze, rather than being lost in it. It’s seeing yourself for where you are, getting in touch with how you feel, and silencing the neverending chatter we face during regular hours. And it’s practice for the real world. It’s learning how to stop and re-center when things feel chaotic.

Meditation isn’t a complicated thing. It’s merely turning off and tuning out for a little bit. So, why not break it down and apply some of our beloved fast-food mentality to it?

Instead of one, long meditation session… try a bunch of short ruminations, AKA “minute meditations.”

Here are a few opportunities for Minute Meditations:

Elevator Rides:

You don’t have anything better to do! When those doors slide shut, take a deep breath. Tune into what you feel. Are you anxious? Do you want to look at your phone? Why? Is the Queen of England going to call at any moment? Plus, there’s never service in elevators! How is your body responding to your feeling? I’m a buttcheek clencher. And a jaw clencher. And a back molars grinder. How chill can you get before you get to your floor?

Any time you’re waiting.

The grocery store checkout. The subway platform. The hostess stand at a restaurant. The freeway during rush hour. Wherever you find yourself waiting and feeling rushed, take some deep breaths. Ask yourself where you feel being in a rush. In your stomach? In your chest? Your face? Don’t judge it. Just feel it.

Dawn’s early light.

When you first wake up, take three deep breaths, count them. And really fill your body with your breath. Do the deep breathing where your stomach poofs out. Feel where you are in that very moment. Listen to the birds chirp. Hear the white noise. Feel how the day begins, and how you are part of it.

“OMG, I’m an alien.”

No, not the kind that will get you booted out of the country… Imagine that you’re an alien and were just transported into your body. Real Twilight Zone, X Files stuff. You have to start with a completely blank slate and be totally cool while you do it so as not to rouse suspicion. “Who am I?” “Where am I?” “Who are these people around me?” Figure it out.

Doing Chores.

Performing household tasks is a great opportunity to be in the moment. Don’t daydream or worry about anything outside of what you’re doing. Put your focus into whichever task you’re doing. Really try to do a good job washing each dish, getting even vacuum lines, getting crisp fold lines in the clothes. Relish in putting yourself into every moment and BEING quality.

Give It Up.

Spend sixty seconds completely dedicating your day to whatever higher power you want to believe in (The Force, God, the Tao, Xenu, spaghetti monster). Give them control over you, so tat they can do their work through you. Hand over the reins during those sixty seconds and be dedicated to your spiritual mission. You are just the vehicle.

Give It Up Again.

Make a mental list of all the people in your life you are grateful for. Picture their faces. Imagine love coming out of your body & going to them. Added challenge: do the same for people you’re not too crazy about.

Go Opposite.

Tense every muscle in your body for 5 seconds. Tense everything as much as you can. Then relax. Do it again. And again. And again.

Count On It.

Count to sixty. Actually do it. For a full minute. Concentrate only on getting to sixty. Say the words in your head. See the shapes of the numbers in your mind. Give your full attention to each one.

These all work and are just as valid as the 6 hour meditations any Tibetan guru is doing in his cave.

You have a minute to spare. Unless you’re a bomb diffuser on the job, you have sixty seconds to take a mental time-out. Those Facebook likes and Instagram hearts will be there when you’re done. That spreadsheet won’t change on its own. Your email inbox and voicemails can wait. Besides, don’t you want to handle everything once you’ve come back to yourself a little more?

These are small opportunities to re-charge and re-focus. It will allow you to put your best into each moment. Make time for yourself.

Try out these Minute Meditations. Let me know if you come across any other good ones.