Flip the Switch: 40 Anytime, Anywhere Meditations in 5 Minutes or Less

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9781569754160: Flip the Switch: 40 Anytime, Anywhere Meditations in 5 Minutes or Less
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In this hurried world, when is there a chance to stop everything and meditate? Flip the Switch offers 50 surprisingly easy answers.

It's not necessary to be in a special quiet room or twisted pretzel-like into the lotus position to meditate - countless opportunities for quick meditations abound. Flip the Switch points out the time gaps that come throughout the day (idling at a red light, waiting for a computer to restart, standing in line at the grocery store) and teaches specially designed meditations that fit each of these situations.

As healthy as they are convenient, the book's "spot meditations" achieve many of the same positive changes as one long meditation session and can actually offer even greater overall benefits since the healthy transformations occur over and over throughout the day. The book offers quick, easy answers for reducing stress, improving health, clarifying thoughts, releasing creativity, deepening emotions, and boosting sensory pleasures.

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Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Household Meditations

Taking a Shower
I did my first ten-day retreat in 1975, and I had an epiphany on the third day: I had a shower. I went into the shabby cubicle at the old Catholic retreat center in Auckland, New Zealand, and had such a shower as I’d never had before in my life. The meditation made my mind so still and clear that time slowed down, and every sense was heightened. When the water hit me, it was an explosion of delight―color, texture, sound. I felt my skin sing. At that moment, I realized that pleasure comes from the inside. I’d had showers before, but they’d never felt so wonderful. I realized that if my mind was clear, even the simplest things could be ecstatic. (And I didn’t need to be fabulously rich in order to buy happiness.)
So nowadays, I similarly focus on the pure sensations of having a shower: the smell of soap, the sounds and texture of water, the warmth and skin response, the pleasurable bodily movements. Of course, I don’t meditate on showering every time I shower, but it is an option I take up two or three times a week. I always notice how lovely it feels and consciously appreciate it. It confirms the basic formula: if you want to be relaxed, be more sensual.
Showering naturally leads into another meditation: getting dressed (and getting ready to go out). If you think I’m inventing this as an easy option for Westerners, you’ve got it wrong.
I’ll let you in on a secret. The Buddha, in fact, was a bit of a fuss-pot, and he insisted that his monks always look neat and tidy when they went out. If they were sloppy in their dress and behavior, he said, it would reflect badly on him and his reputation. He was rather like a boarding-school headmaster who wanted his boys to have their shirt-tails tucked in and their hair combed when they went to town. The Buddha was an inveterate rule-maker and inventor of meditation practices, so he asked his monks to meditate on getting dressed. After monks are sitting for a while, their robes, which are just pieces of cloth wrapped around their bodies, get somewhat slack. When they stand up, they are required to spend quite some time making sure their robes hang properly and look nice. You’ll notice Buddhist monks being slow and deliberate about this even now, in the twenty-first century. It’s in their rules of monkly etiquette.
If your partner, therefore, is annoyed about the time you take in front of your make-up mirror, just tell them you’re practicing an ancient Buddhist meditation. If he goes off in a huff, you can accuse him of religious insensitivity!

Tidying Up
After an hour or two of computer work or study, I like to take a break. I could have a drink or go for a walk, but once or twice a day I simply potter around for five or ten minutes, tidying up. There are always bits of paper or clothing where they shouldn’t be, a few unwashed dishes or food that needs to be put away. I like the way something will catch my eye and lead me from one room to the next, where something else will take me on another tangent.
If I resolved to spend an hour putting the whole house in order, it would feel like a chore. Five or ten minutes of tidying up, however, are a pleasant distraction from the sedentary nature of head work. I enjoy the fact that my body is moving and breathing more easily―it’s a relief to get out of the chair. I like the bending, touching, lifting, and placing. I enjoy glimpses at the garden beyond the windows.

Household meditations
Spend a few seconds relaxing your body and breathing.
Start any activity that has a clear start and finish.
Be sensual. Be present. Enjoy the sensations.
If it helps, ‘name’ the activity as you breathe out.
Occasionally check: ‘Where am I?’
Go for sensory detail. Get into the rhythm of the activity.
Check your body and your breath periodically to make sure you are relaxing.
If you find you are distracted, sigh and return.

Going to the Toilet
It’s quite relaxing to go to the toilet. At least one sphincter has to relax completely or it’s not worth going there at all. When you let one muscle go, others can relax in sympathy. Furthermore, the toilet
may be the only place where no one will disturb you. You can always grab a few extra seconds there and no one will complain.
The Buddha was the first person to recommend urinating as a meditation object. This is a practice that is at least 2,500 years old. A psychologist friend reminded me of this recently. He says he goes to the toilet in the five minutes between clients, and lets everything go along with the urine. He gets so relaxed in those few seconds he says he can barely hold his balance.
In Western literature, it is surprising how often the toiled is regarded as a suitable place for deep thought. You sit down and settle into your body. You relax and wait, and randomly survey the state of the nation. Not surprisingly, bright ideas can arise and you feel relaxed for minutes afterwards. An excellent meditation!
Going to the toilet
AAAAAAs you approach the toilet, sigh in anticipation.
Get out of your head and into your body. Feel the pressure in your bladder.
As you urinate, close your eyes and sigh deeply.
Feel all the muscles of your body loosening in sympathy.
Don’t hurry to finish. No one will disturb you.
After the last drop, stay motionless for a few seconds more. Enjoy that space with nothing to do.
Walk away with a smile on your face.

In the Car
Meditating at Red Lights
I took many radio interviews when the original edition of this book came out in 1993. The interviewers were fascinated by the idea that you could meditate in the forty-five seconds you were stuck at a red light. In fact, a television team invited me to fly across Australia to Melbourne so I could demonstrate this.
A team of eight people with a back-up truck met me at the airport. The car had a camera mounted to the ceiling, pointing to the driver’s seat. It was a grey winter’s day, so the technicians had put bright lights within the car itself, shining up on my face. I drove off into rush-hour traffic, late on a dismal Friday afternoon, to demonstrate the red light meditation. It wasn’t easy.
This exercise works best if you are running late and the traffic lights turn red as you approach.
Red Light Meditation
You have been given a whole minute to stop and do nothing. Relax. Shake yourself loose and settle back into the seat.
Take three or four deep breaths and sigh.
Scan your body for tension. How are you holding the steering wheel? Are your face and neck muscles tighter than necessary?
Let your belly soften. Keep breathing.
Be present. Look around you slowly. Notice the scenery, the traffic, the sky.
The exercise finishes when the lights turn green. Now devote all your attention to the task at hand: drive safely, and look forward to the next red light.
When the Car is Parked
I often run seminars or workshops in the city. I cannot take parking for granted, so I allow myself an extra five minutes or so to find a space. As a result, I’m usually in the parking building a few minutes before I need to get out of the car.
Often my mind is restless with anticipation, so I deliberately meditate to slow it down. I hear the engine die away as I switch off the ignition. I put my head against the headrest, and wait for the vibrations of the road to leave my body. I scan my body over seven deep breaths (by doing countdown exercise...), or scan more slowly, three or four breaths in each region, if I’ve got the time. Within that short space, I try to go as close to the sleep zone as possible.
It’s good to have events or places as starting cues for a meditation. Nearly every time I’m in a parking building, I’ll meditate before I get out and start moving. It’s a wonderful point of hiatus. It’s where I briefly stop the world and get off, and no one notices. One of my best students told

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"Meditate while walking, eating, dressing, lying down, and going to the toilet." ― Buddha

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