Mca blog

Feeling Time Poor?

Not enough hours in your day?

There’s a Tibetan saying that if you take care of the minutes, the years will take care of themselves.

Most of us feel time-poor. But if you slow down and become the observer of your life you may notice that each minute of the day is a full 60 seconds.

Sound obvious?

When I was 17, I spent a year overseas in an international work-study program that included 2 weeks of training in the Israeli army. Although we were volunteers the same work ethic was expected in our training as was expected for potential Israeli soldiers. Amongst other things this meant rising at 5am in the middle of a cold winter and being ready for role-call by 5:15.

By the third day the sergeant assigned to us got tired of the excuses of why we teenagers coming from privileged countries couldn’t get our act together in 15 mins. So she made us stand outside in the snow in our cotton army clothes, no jackets, for 1 full minute.

We stood in silence feeling discomfort in each second’s passing. At the end of 60 seconds she said to us “You see how long a minute is? You can do a lot in that time”.

Try this yourself. Sit in a chair or stand somewhere and with your eyes either open or closed turn your attention to your breathing and count 60 breaths. If your breathing is quick this may be less than a minute, if it’s slow it may be more.

It doesn’t matter. What does matter is noticing. Notice the quality of each breath, the sensation of breathing in and breathing out, the temperature of each breath. Notice where your attention prefers to rest: the breathing sensation in the nostrils or throat, or the rising and falling of the chest or abdomen? Just rest your attention on your breath for 60 seconds.

Note how you feel when you finish. You may find that your head feels clearer and your body calmer. This is because you’re slowing down the production of stress hormones in your body. If you do this regularly you will also improve the neural connections in your brain, giving you a greater sense of clarity. You can do this as often as you like throughout the day to help you relieve stress and stay focused.

Of course you can sit for longer if you like. When you get used to doing this exercise, stop counting and continue to observe your breath for 3 mins. Or 5. Or more. The regularity of this exercise is more important than the length of time you do it.

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