15 Minutes

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Revisiting Nothing

Some musings and insights on spending 15 minutes a day on nothing but stillness, a practice I started a few weeks ago. So what have I noticed about myself and my mind since I began this practice?

First, is that it’s not easy to think about nothing. As I grab my timer and sit down, I tend to start thinking about what I was just doing or what I’m going to do next. It takes conscious effort to arrest my attention away from conscious thought (if that makes any sense). Some tricks I use: If there is a lot of background noise, rather than allow the noise to distract you, focus on either your sense of touch or sight (while your eyes are closed).

Second, I can’t always achieve my dream state. The first time I did this, I entered into a semi-lucid waking dream state; I was still conscious, but in an REM-like trance. Over the last few weeks, there were several times when I’ve been unable to reach that state (mostly from thinking too much). When I do get there, it feels like having a two hour nap compressed into a few minutes. So I’ve been trying to schedule my stillness time in the middle of the day, about the time people have a siesta. After all, many cultures traditionally have two sleep periods each day. Maybe I’ll be able to get away with sleeping less during the night.

Third, is that I’ve been remembering my dreams more when I sleep at night. Through most of my life, I rarely have been able to remember my dreams. It seems like I’ve been waking up from dreams more often than normal. This could be coincidence but it’s something I am curious about.

I’m not sure if it’s desirable either. When I wake from a dream, I tend to wake more tired than when I don’t remember my dreams. For example, last night I remember dreaming about myself and two other people searching some kind of underground amphitheater/cavern for a murderer. We kept getting separated, and there were conveyor belts and secret doors and we spent more time looking for each other than for clues or the murderer. The point is, I was tired when I woke up, because it felt like I was busy all night reenacting a Scooby-Doo episode.

Last thing, I’ve been re-reading Grow Rich While You Sleep by Ben Sweetland. It’s about harnessing the creative power of your subconscious mind while you sleep. I’d like to be able to tap my creative mind for new ideas while I meditate. This might be antithetical to the purpose of spending a portion of your day in stillness… Or maybe not, I’d like to be able to shut off my conscious mind at will and tap ideas from the creative mind or universal consciousness if I can. More updates to follow.

What are your thoughts or experiences? Do you think that time in quiet meditation is beneficial?

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15 Minutes of Nothing

A few weeks ago I read Michael Hyatt’s blog on the subject of stillness. He was practicing beginning his day with 15 minutes of quiet meditation, clearing the mind, not thinking or praying or problem solving. Essentially 15 minutes of concentrated on nothing.

I am all about 15 minutes a day to learn or try new things. But, I was opposed to trying out this idea at first, for a couple of reasons. First, is that I just wrote a book on the subject of using your spare 15 minute blocks of time on some kind of “productive” activity; and this seemed like the opposite of that.

Second, I figured this would be a great practice for busy executive-type people that really need to relax, but I didn’t think that “I” needed it (extend the “I” out for a full second when it’s in quotes like that to show my pomposity).

My upbringing was a form of secular Quasi-Buddhist philosophy; And I already had a belief in the power of meditation and relaxation. If you take a look at all of my art projects from University of Hawaii, you will see a definite Zen influence in my work. When I became a Christian, I worried about stuff even less. I’ve had a relatively stress-free life, because I don’t worry about stuff (especially stuff like stress). So “I” (hold it) of course don’t need to practice stillness.

But then I was reading about how pride is the main thing that holds people back from self-improvement. I also just finished re-reading The Magic of Thinking Big, and there was a large section in Chapter 11 about historical figures using the power of relaxation to awaken their creative subconscious minds. So, I thought I’d give it a try.

Day 1: I set my timer for 15 minutes and just sat with my eyes closed trying not to focus on anything or think about anything. Listen inward. One thing I noticed was that it seemed like much longer than 15 minutes. Second was that it felt like I entered REM sleep for a while. I was in a dream-like state but still aware that I was sitting on the couch. Also, just like my actual dreams, I’m very aware in the present moment, but I remember very little once I wake. When the alarm went off it was a jolt to my senses (mental note: use quieter ring tone), like being roused from a dream but at the same time I was instantly alert, unlike waking from sleep.

I will be exploring this practice for the next month and see how it goes. Spending 15 minutes a day in quiet meditation is much more time-effective than golfing every weekend to relax. Also, I hate golf. More updates to follow.

Question: How do you relax when there’s no time to relax?