Ten is better than One, One is better than None

I meditate whenever I come into the office, usually for 25-30 mins. 

But there wasn’t time today, due to a last min urgent meeting, which was happening 15 mins after I came in. 

Initially I thought of skipping my meditation. But then I reminded myself, even if it’s just one breath today, that’s also okay.

After all, ten is better than one, and one is better than none. This is the case for number of breaths or minutes.  

And so I sat, with my noise cancellation ear buds and eye shades, for a nice 10 mins. It wasn’t super deep, but nonetheless was pleasant enough to enjoy moments and breaths where the thoughts disappeared. 

Then the alarm rang. Back to work, but refreshed and mentally clearer than 10 mins before. 

[Thanks for reading and wishing you well. :)]

On letting be

When I meditated today, my mind was not settled. After setting the mental “guardkeeper”, my mind went on a journey of fantasies, jumping from the present into the past and leaping into the future. Over time, it gradually settled on the meditation object of the breath.

Out of the blue, it went from settled, to a thought about work. And it stayed there for a good few minutes, as it also went along, generating even more thoughts.

My mind then abruptly came to a halt, noted “those were thoughts, and not the object to focus on”, and the mind very naturally came back to the breath.

The interesting thing is that this was done automatically, without any force. How did that happen?

As my teacher often says, if one acts like a dictator to one’s own mind, the mind will tend to rebel. But if one is kind and gentle to one’s own mind, and lets the mind naturally experience the gentle pleasure of meditation, over time it is very easy to gently re-direct the mind back to the meditation object.

Why? Because the mind has tasted the pleasure of stillness and letting go. Then there’s no need to force, just like there’s no need to force a hungry cat to eat cat food. 🙂

On really being here

I’ve started a mindfulness course at work (which I’ve titled “Mindfulness@Work”), which I’ve used to download what I’ve learnt over the years as a meditator, and to share best practices.

An interesting thing happened on Wednesday, when we did the “mindful listening exercise” (which I took from Chade Meng’s Search Inside Yourself, which is incidentally a very good book which I highly recommend for beginners & working professionals). For those who’ve not done this, the mindful listening exercise involves 3 mins of just listening, with acknowledgement & nodding, without any interruptions whatsoever.

After the class, I asked if there were any comments/feedback. The first comment that came about was from a young man, who said, “It feels unnatural. It’s like, when you hear someone say something, you naturally want to ask a question but you’re not allowed to.”

Me: OK. So when you’re thinking of a question, are you listening?

Young Man: Yes, yes, I’m able to do both at the same time… but I can’t ask the question. Can I?

Me: No, you can’t. But let me ask, can you really do both things at the same time?

Young man: Yes!

Me: Actually, there are studies that show that you can’t really multitask, but instead your mind is just switching very quickly between tasks. (In fact, even just #2secondglance could make a huge difference when driving, as per the latest driving safety campaign video.)

So, when you say you’re both thinking the question and also listening, let me ask: are you listening to what’s being said, or listening to the question in your head?

I think that got through to him, because he then went “Hmm”.

So, are you really listening, or are you listening to the voice in your head?

One breath is enough

In my life, I’ve heard enough comments about “meditation is great but I have no time”. 

In truth, there is always time to meditate. 

Because the best time to meditate is now. And it can be as short as a single breath: just being mindful and aware of every single part of your breath. 

It’s ok if the breath doesn’t lead to perfect stillness. And it’s ok if everything isn’t ok. 

Just breathe for that single breath, and let your mind rest on that for those moments. 

And if you have time, repeat, until you have to do what you have to do. 

Hello, and welcome here

Hi, thanks for visiting this blog.

A bit of background
I’m a 35 year old public servant in Singapore. A practicing Buddhist who’s been meditating on-and-off for 15 years (but only seriously in the last 5, about the same time I gave up alcohol).

I’d previously written a blog (on and off) about meditation & mindfulness here, which I forgot to update since 2014. This was partially due to my posting in India: the internet connectivity in India was non-existent where I stayed (I basically relied on my ~1mbps mobile internet connection at home for the greater part of 3 years!)

The most significant event that led to my serious meditation is recounted here in my old blog.

Why another blog on meditation?
Well, I wouldn’t see this as another blog but more of a continuation & refresh of the previous one.

For one, I’ve started a mindfulness course at work, titled (imaginatively) “Mindfulness@Work”. The intent is to marry mindfulness practices (which I’ve adopted from Buddhist practices) with the needs of the modern workplace, with some ideas adapted from Tan Chade-Meng’s “Search Inside Yourself”. The first class happened last week, so it remains to be seen how this will impact my organization.

Who’s the intended audience?
I’m writing this for working professionals who are seeking to better understand mindfulness practices, and also seeking to see how these practices could be better applied to their professional lives.

Is this blog/practice Buddhist?
Well, I am, and mindfulness came from Buddhism. There are a few concepts that will be borrowed from Buddhism (e.g. the idea of loving kindness). However, my intention is to keep this secular (in the sense that you wouldn’t need to give up your religious & spiritual beliefs in order to do any of the exercises here). This is especially since the intent is to write about stuff that is applicable to the workplace.

For my spiritual beliefs, I have another blog Withdrawn Diligent Ardent Resolute, which would be more explicitly about Dhamma-related practice.

Thanks again for visiting. 🙂