Book Review: One-Minute Mindfulness

“One-Minute Mindfulness: 50 Simple Ways to Find Peace, Clarity, and New Possibilities in a Stressed-Out World” by Donald Altman, New World Library, ISBN 978-1-60868-030-6

“Live the next sixty seconds as if your whole life depended on them,” advises Donald Altman in his introduction to One Minute Mindfulness. Altman shares examples, anecdotes and observations from his experience as a psychotherapist and former Buddhist monk. He’s also on the board of The Center for Mindful Eating and offers healthy tips on that subject.

Each chapter contains a practice for building awareness “to help you touch this moment.” The journaling prompts and practices, highlighted at the end of each chapter, take much longer than a minute but each offers guidance to make the present moment count.

Part 1 of the book, “Home and Play,” shows one-minute mindfulness to bring more awareness to your home life. Part 2, “Work and Creativity,” encourages optimism, gratitude and a one-minute intention, like a loving-kindness meditation, for making the transition from work to home. Creativity can be unleashed by asking the simple question, “What if?”

Who would have thought you could heal a relationship sixty seconds at a time? In Part 3, Altman gives a poignant example of a woman who begins to rebuild her relationship with her husband by practising “non-verbal sixty-second greeting rituals such as a smile, as kiss, a hug, or a light touch on her husband’s shoulder.” She used verbal greetings too and all of it was done respectfully with the intention of sharing their feelings with one another once again.

Part 4, “Health and Well-Being” focuses on bringing deep awareness to self-care. I appreciated the “Be the Pebble” meditation for stilling the “raging river” of an anxious mind.

Part 5, “Nature, Spirituality, and Contemplation,” helps one to learn from the natural world by recapturing a childlike curiosity. “Pray for What You Already Have” contains a “one-minute mindfulness inventory” of “what is missing” with a focus on “what is present and available.” It’s an uplifting approach to recognizing our gifts and reconnecting to the wishes that may have already come to fruition in our lives. This was my favourite chapter which ends with sending “messages of peace” from several different traditions. Each is a mindful way to connect to the larger community with a tolerance leading to acceptance of others.

I found the cover of the book to be rather jarring however its contents are anything but as each chapter offers knowledgeable and inspiring wisdom for recovering those precious and mindful moments when we believe anything is possible.

Mary Ann Moore is a poet, writer and creator of Writing Home: A Whole Life Practice.