One of the best things I ever did for myself was to make my minimum daily practice just one minute.
In my twenties I’d been to a number of meditation, yoga and QiGong workshops and courses - and out of each one i was really fired up to do the practice the teachers prescribed, be it half an hour, 40 minutes or whatever.
I’d start off keen and keep it up for a couple of weeks, and then I’d miss a couple of mornings, I’d judge myself for missing them, it’d start to feel like a burden, and before you knew it I was doing it sporadically and feeling guilty about not doing the practice everyday.
This went on for a good 8 years or so.
I was making a fine collection of practices that I judged myself for not keeping up.
In my mid-late twenties i was reading a book on habits (i don’t remember the title) - and it said that if you can do something everyday for one cycle of the moon (28 days) it becomes a habit.
This started me thinking that perhaps i had it all the wrong way around. What if, rather than focussing on how much practice i did or getting a whole form done, i just focussed on whether i practiced or not?
So I decided to make my minimum requirement for myself one minute per day - it would be about whether i did it, not what i did. As a consequence I’ve done my practice every day since (that’s over 15 years or so now and counting).
In that time, i’ve often had periods where i’ve been practicing and training up to 3 hours a day - but the great thing is that my only obligation was done in just one minute - which meant that everything else was just because i wanted to.
This simple change in paradigm changed everything.
It made it easy to connect with a sense of joy and achievement very quickly.
I’ve also had days where it’s been hard to get that one minute in, and I’ve just sat and meditated on a train or on the toilet or just before I went to bed - just a few deep conscious breaths or a quick inner smile - and usually once I’ve done one minute, I feel like taking another.
The great thing about this approach is that it turns practice into something I’m doing because I want to rather than something I have to do, and rather than at the end of a practice feeling like I’ve only done the minimum requirement, I can easily feel a sense of empowerment.
It’s been a key tool in turning my practice from being imbued with obligation into one imbued with joyfulness.
It gives my inner judge very little room to mess with me, which has aided me in creating a new paradigm around the effort I put into evolving my awareness.
And it applies not just to spiritual practice, but to any art that requires time and effort to be invested.
So give it a go, dedicate yourself to just one minute and then see what blooms...
(this is a re-edit of an article I wrote some time ago, and worth revisiting).