3-minute brain hack
Practice does not make perfect.
Practice makes permanent.
This practice slowly transforms its practitioners into a more grateful, compassionate, and forgiving person—the three most powerful traits on the planet.
This practice is one I’ve done daily for over a year. I do it at the end of my morning meditation, which ranges from 15 to 40 minutes. Even after 9 years of meditation practice, I’ve found this practice has allowed me to turn the lessons from meditation into an actionable state of being. Meditating before helps, but it’s not a prerequisite.
The practice also comes in handy during the day, when all too often I’ve lost track of these three guiding stars.
In total, it takes 3 minutes.
Close your eyes. (Not now, during the practice)
1 minute of Gratitude
Gratitude is a cure-all. Did you know gratitude and anger cannot exist at the same time? This means when you are truly grateful, you can’t be angry. Without anger, love can flow more freely. You can flow more freely.
I start by becoming aware of a spot deep in my gut, just above the groin. Is there a feeling of gratitude deep in my core? (Hint: there is always is, but you have to pay attention.) I let that feeling expand throughout my body as I think of the small things I’m grateful for. The floor I’m sitting on. The roof and walls keeping me warm and dry. The vegan biscuits and gravy I ate yesterday. The ability to smile. My arms and legs and eyes. I think of the people I’m grateful for. The times we’re living in. The opportunity to be alive.
Start with small, quote-unquote mundane things. Your hair. Your lungs. Owning a pillow. Joy. The closer an object or idea is to you, the more your body can cling to this abstract notion of gratitude. Then, work outward to bigger ideas and things.
By now, the feeling of gratitude is filling my body. It’s alive, much like a vibration.
I say feeling because this practice is a feeling-based practice, not an intellectual practice. We can start with thinking, but our mind-bodies only change when we integrate the feelings into our bodies.
“Knowledge is only a rumor until it’s in the body.” When I heard this New Guinean proverb some years ago, it gave shape to this idea of intellectual knowledge versus embodied knowledge.
1 Minute of Compassion
Allow the gratitude to shift into compassion.
Compassion is simply wishing that one is safe and free from suffering.
Pro tip: If you have trouble generating compassion early on, think of a small child you know. A friend’s newborn, a niece or nephew, or perhaps your own young one. As you imagine them, generate a feeling from deep inside you that wishes them to be safe, free from suffering, and so full of joy and contentment.
Compassion comes from a pure, unconditional love.
Once I am feeling compassion resonating in my body, I first turn it inward to myself. We often wish others to be safe and full of joy, but how little we give that wish to ourselves. This act did not come easy to me, so I let myself bathe in this feeling of pure, non-judgemental love.
Then I turn the feeling of compassion outward towards others. Often times this can feel like its seeping out of my skin. If I’m feeling really lovey, I can shoot compassion out of my body like invisible beams of light in all directions. That’s pretty fun.
I imagine people closest to me, giving them compassion freely: “May you be safe and free of suffering.”
I imagine people I don’t know, often a President or other public figures that ruffle my feathers, and send them compassion. This practice helps me re-see them as people. If there’s one thing that fucks up the world faster than anything else, it’s when we forget to see other people as people.
1 Minute of Forgiveness
Now, generate the feeling of forgiveness.
Start with forgiving yourself. Allow the feeling to turn inward, emanate throughout your body.
Forgive yourself for anything you’ve deemed “wrong.” An action, a characteristic, a judgement you made.
Allow the forgiveness to be 100%, even if only in the moment.
When I give myself this gift, I often shed a small, healing tear.
Practicing forgiving myself has been huge for me. Early in the year, while working with a coach, I discovered the fear and doubt I feel is a product of how I treat myself. Early in my life I’d verbally or physically punish myself for failing or doing something stupid. Now, the outward violence is gone, but I subtly and often subconsciously punish myself emotionally. So, the fear and doubt I feel before doing anything is my mind-body predicting the future pain it expects to receive when I don’t succeed, or do something perfectly. Ouch.
Once I realized that I should start this 1-minute forgiveness practice with myself it’s become a critical period of healing a lifelong internal battle.
After generating forgiveness for yourself, turn the forgiveness outward. Start with anyone close to you. When I imagine the person, an action they did or something they said they will usually arise with it. I let my feeling of forgiveness wash over them. I feel the notion: “If you’ve done anything to harm me, I completely forgive you.”
I generate the feeling of forgiveness wider. Maybe a stranger did something yesterday that irked me. I’ll let that come up and feel: “If you’ve done anything to harm me, I completely forgive you.”
Why all this forgiveness when these people haven’t actually hurt me? Some part of our bodies harbors hurt, whether real or perceived. Forgiveness is an opportunity to start shedding that hurt. What I’ve realized is that I now feel hurt in the moment far less than I did in the past.
Now, let the forgiveness transition to humility. Feel: “To anyone I have harmed, I am sorry. Please forgive.”
Let this feeling of humble apology fill your body.
Take a small moment to sense your body before opening your eyes.
I see you,
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