Moments with Handles On

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Just before Christmas, a friend showed me this video entitled 'One-Moment Meditation'. Its basic premise was that meditative techniques don’t necessarily require a special time and place and commitment, but can be integrated into our daily lives and still have a positive impact.

In addition to its primary message, it set off two related trains of thought.

The first was its relationship with my 5-minute practice project last summer. It’s one thing to know that micro-meditations can improve your state of mind if sprinkled throughout the day, but quite another to actually form the habit of doing the sprinkling. Indeed, of the many of us who approved of this video when we saw it sloshing round Facebook, I wonder how many have actually changed their daily habits. (Confession: the only time I have done anything about it has been interspersed with writing this post.)

So, that’s a slightly disheartening thought. The other one was more useful:

The video gave a method to learn momentary meditation via learning to meditate for a whole minute at a time. This was because, in its most memorable phrase: ‘a minute is like a moment with handles on’. Moments are fleeting and hard to grasp, but slow them down and you have a chance to figure out the process you are intending to learn.

This is a beautiful way of encapsulating that process of deep focus that leads to myelination. The handles of stretched time give you confidence, they stop you losing your balance and slipping off the neural pathway you are trying to develop while it gets safely wrapped in its cocoon of grey matter. They stabilise the process until it is properly embedded. A minim is a semiquaver with training wheels.

This is, of course, why it takes a considerable degree of will-power to invest enough minutes that your moments become effective. A minute spent developing a new skill or mental habit takes a lot more personal commitment than a minute spent in the kind of directionless faffing it is intended to replace.

But the handle imagery is an effective motivator to invest this personal commitment. It encourages us, in Alexander Technique terms, to shift our focus from gaining the end to paying attention to the means whereby we gain it. It instils patience by offering us help.

Hi, Liz,
Related to the "minute" meditation is a break through I had with meditation with the visual idea of "clearing the table." Clearing the mind was too abstract an image for me but imagining a clear table helped.

In choral music, a "clearing the table," or a "blank canvas" moment before we paint a new musical picture may be helpful in the moment before we begin the next piece.


Hi Susan,

Thanks for that - I do like a concrete image!

And as you say, this makes it much more serviceable as a technique for an ensemble.


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