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The Zen Minute

This morning began with a typo. Ten minutes to write, I began, but somehow it came out Zen minutes.
It seemed to my Puritan work ethic a little cheap to stop there. Maybe I should have, but the spectre of ancestors frowning, kept me going. What, I asked myself, are Zen minutes?
Meditation seemed an obvious answer; too obvious. Focus, perhaps? Centering? Maybe. Essential to the day, that is for sure. A Zen minute, I finally concluded, is a Ritual.
Choreographer Twyla Tharp writes that Ritual is one of the essential ingredients of what she calls the Creative Habit, and I am here to second the motion.
For Tharp, her morning routine is all about Ritual – down to the taxi she takes to the studio at five in the morning to do her daily workout. Her creative workday does not begin until after that taxi and that workout, they open her up to the possibilities of the day. If on occasion, this ritual is not possible, she feels disoriented.
We all have these little patterns that we take up almost without thinking, the mug we chose for morning coffee, the order in which we put on our clothes, our need for seven sharp pencils and a yellow pad to begin, the first thing we do coming into the office, the route we take to get there.
Sometimes patterns like these are just habits, and as such, you may want to shake them up once in a while – turn right instead of left, pick another mug – you never know what you may discover. But when you test them like this, you may discover they have turned into something that helps you begin your day or your next project.
Zen minutes are a key. They open doors; they start engines. They help you over the threshold, to shift out of neutral. Sure, you can sit down and do the job without them, but without them, beginning is harder. So look around your life for a minute and pick out the Zen minutes that are yours. Give them honor and enjoy the gifts they give you. If insisting that the pencils be sharp and the pads be yellow will get your project launched forward, so be it. That’s not weird; it‘s probably kind of Zen.

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