One Mindful Breath: Minimum Viable Commitment

Sometimes the most you can muster is a single mindful breath.
And sometimes that's all the meditation you need.

One set of crunches.
One line on your manuscript.
One walk around the block.

We often overestimate what we can accomplish in one day, while we underestimate what we can accomplish in five years if we were to start taking small steps now.

Set an intention to take a small meaningful step today.

What's your minimum viable commitment? What's the thing you can start doing each day, or each week, that you're sure to accomplish and can help you get the momentum going in the direction you want?

I built a meditation practice from a one breath commitment, and a martial arts practice from five minutes per day. These are both activities that have transformed my mind and body in the years that I have been doing them.

What I marvel at most is how difficult even a small commitment can feel.

When we take away all of the excuses of time, then we're faced with our real blocks. In facing them we get to do our real work.

For me I encounter my perfectionist and the part of me that always asks if I'm really doing enough. The part of me that doesn't allow me to celebrate or take pride in the small steps. It's that journey, the journey of being gentle with myself, that I am exploring through martial arts and meditation and the discipline that surrounds their practice.

My practice is a reflection on being enough, doing enough, and allowing my journey to be my own. Not a comparison to others or an artificial standard.

The more I confront and unravel that the more joy I take in the doing.

And I've never changed from that small commitment, though my discipline has expanded greatly. I might practice for four hours or meditate three times. What I'm capable of has greatly expanded. But on some days five minutes and one breath is still enough.

Minimum viable commitment. Because the difference between something and nothing is infinite.


Devon Boorman is the Co-Founder and Director of Academie Duello Centre for Swordplay, which has been active in Vancouver, Canada since 2004. Devon’s expertise centres on the Italian swordplay tradition including the arts of the Renaissance Italian rapier, sidesword, and longsword, as well as knife and unarmed techniques.
Read more from Devon Boorman.