A Few Seconds a Day

Practice: A Few Seconds a Day

By Bo Lozoff in 2012

Here’s an almost effortless practice that will definitely change your life for the better if you are willing to commit just 10-20 seconds a day to it.

The moment we realize we are awake – I don’t mean after getting up and going to the bathroom, or after lying there thinking all sorts of things; I mean the first moment we realize “I’m awake” – the brain is in a very raw and open state and can imprint things very deeply. So in those first few seconds of “awakeness” every day, say a prayer or state an intention that reflects your spiritual path. Something like, “Lord, may I be more compassionate today than I was yesterday – may I be more forgiving.”

It takes fewer than five seconds to say the thought above. And then you lay there for another 10 seconds or so to let it sink in. The brain very powerfully imprints this thought as your first identity of every day. All through the day it will come back to you and challenge you and remind you of your spiritual intentions. Before you are busy being a man or woman, convict or citizen, young or old…, you have imprinted a profound spiritual thought into your brain. Believe me, it will make a difference in your life.

And it only takes a few seconds. There is no one, anywhere, who does not have the time to do this practice. Every one of us wakes up every day and stays in bed a few seconds as we realize we are awake. It doesn’t take long to train ourselves to do this practice; it’ll come automatically after the first week or two. That’s how the brain will imprint these intentions and prayers most deeply.

The prayer or intentions should be simple, fewer than 20-25 words, something a child can understand. And it should be the same words every day for at least a few months at a time in order for the brain to imprint it deeply. Don’t lie in bed and start thinking of what to say; that gets the mind too involved and active. Choose the words in advance and stick with the same ones for a few months or longer, until you are guided to change or alter them.

You can also end your day with the same sort of practice: Lying on your pillow waiting to go to sleep, you just check out the same way you checked in: “Lord, may I be more compassionate tomorrow than I was today; may I be more forgiving.” [If I feel angry today, may I control my response and act kindly.]

And although it is simple and almost effortless, beginning and ending each day, seven days a week, can change your life. Give it a try!

Portrait of Bo drawn by Shane Echols in Marion Correctional Institution