Long, arduous, leg numbing meditation sessions are not the only way to meditate. Today, we present three one minute meditations from three different Masters, including accomplished Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh, Tibetan Buddhist Lama Anam Thubten Rinpoche, and health guru Andrew Weil, M.D. All recommend a practice including short meditations that are available to those even on the busiest schedule.
Anam Thubten Rinpoche recommends a meditation practice that anyone can do, anytime. Simply pause, relax, just become aware of your breath, and allow yourself to fully experience the present moment. After all, the present moment is the only time anyone can really experience happiness. This practice is centering. It brings a greater sense of peace, perspective, improved focus and renewed energy. And it’s available wherever and whenever you want. This so called ‘Pause Meditation’ is also very similar to the following meditations offered by Thich Nhat Hanh and Andrew Weil, M.D.
Thich Nhat Hanh offers the following short meditation, “I would like to offer one short poem you can recite from time to time, while breathing and smiling.
“Breathing in I calm my body.
Breathing out I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.”
“Breathing in, I calm my body.“ This line is like drinking a glass of ice water- you feel the cold, the freshness, permeate your body. When I breathe in and recite this line, I actually feel the breathing calming my body, calming my mind.
“Breathing out, I smile.” You know the effect of a smile. A smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your face, and relax your nervous system. A smile makes you master of yourself. That is why Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are always smiling. When you smile you realize the wonder of the smile.
“Dwelling in the present moment.” While I sit here, I don’t think of somewhere else, or of the future or the past. I sit here, and I know where I am. This is very important. We tend to be alive in the future, not now. We say, “Wait until ‘i finish school and get my Ph.D degree, and then I will be really alive.” When we have it, and it’s not easy to get, we say to ourselves, “I have to wait until I have a job in order to really live.” And then after the job, a car. After the car, a house. We are not capable of being alive in the present moment. We tend to postpone being alive to the future, the distant future, we don’t know when. Now is not the moment to be alive. We may never be alive at all in our entire life. Therefore, the technique, if we have to speak of a technique, is to be in the present moment, to be aware that we are here and now, and the only moment to be alive is the present moment.
“I know this is a wonderful moment.“ This is the only moment that is real. To be here and now, and enjoy the present moment is our most important task. “Calming, Smiling, Present moment, Beautiful moment.” I hope you will try it.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Being Peace
Though breathing is partially controlled by the autonomic nervous system, a degree of control of the breath is clearly helpful in influencing our emotional state. “Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor,” writes Thich Nhat Hanh. Of course, breath is something available to everyone virtually all the time. Andrew Weil, MD offers the following breathing meditation which fights disease, oxygenates the blood, and brings feelings of peace.
The 4-7-8 (Relaxing Breath)
“This is utterly simple, takes almost no time, requires no equipment and can be done anywhere. Although you can do the exercise in any position, sit with your back straight while learning the exercise.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound.
- Close your mouth and inhale quietly through your nose to a mental count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- Exhale completely through your mouth, making a whoosh sound to a count of eight.
- This is one breath. Now inhale again and repeat the cycle three more times for a total of four breaths.
Note that you always inhale quietly through your nose and exhale audibly through your mouth. The tip of your tongue stays in position the whole time. Exhalation takes twice as long as inhalation. The absolute time you spend on each phase is not important; the ratio of 4:7:8 is important. If you have trouble holding your breath, speed the exercise up but keep to the ratio of 4:7:8 for the three phases. With practice you can slow it all down and get used to inhaling and exhaling more and more deeply.
This exercise is a natural tranquilizer for the nervous system. Unlike tranquilizing drugs, which are often effective when you first take them but then lose their power over time, this exercise is subtle when you first try it but gains in power with repetition and practice. Do it at least twice a day. You cannot do it too frequently. Do not do more than four breaths at one time for the first month of practice. Later, if you wish, you can extend it to eight breaths. If you feel a little lightheaded when you first breathe this way, do not be concerned; it will pass.
Once you develop this technique by practicing it every day, it will be a very useful tool that you will always have with you. Use it whenever anything upsetting happens – before you react. Use it whenever you are aware of internal tension. Use it to help you fall asleep. This exercise cannot be recommended too highly. Everyone can benefit from it.”