The Mindful Minute: 6 Steps to Clear Your Mental Palette

The Mindful Minute: 6 Steps to Clear Your Mental Palette

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When you had started your day, your mind was clear.

Like a painter’s palette before the first brush stroke, it was clean with everything in its place and nicely segmented. Unfortunately, as the military adage goes ‘nothing ever survives the first contact’. In other words, no matter how well you have planned things out in your mind, or how often you have war-gamed possible outcomes, your plans, even for the simplest of things, rarely survive that first interaction.

So when you arrive at the office, how many of your best-laid plans have gone array and what has been the impact on your emotions, thought processes and physiological state? More than likely your palette is no longer the clean image you had in your mind this morning. In fact, as your day progresses you are more likely to have an ever increasing number of factors cluttering your mind, from fatigue; emotions; ‘to do’ lists; relationship dynamics; observations; etc. The consequences of this on you is quite apparent: you are more reactive to perceived slights; your attention span is significantly reduced; you experience increasing difficulty in thinking ‘outside the box’, and you become more risk averse.

A simple, quick and easy tool to help you alleviate some of this outcomes and clean your palette is the Mindful Minute. It is a very effective meditation practice that lasts a mere 60 seconds, so regardless of how busy you are it can be used anytime and anyplace.

When you do this practice for the first time you need four ingredients: A chair, a timer (smartphone), 2 minutes, and YOU. Nothing more, nothing less. The practice requires you to count each breath – unlike watching each breath as is customary in the mindfulness of breathing. Your breath remains the same requiring no change, all you have to do is count out each breath over the duration of 1 minute.


  1. Sit in the chair, in a relaxed, upright and dignified posture with your feet planted on the ground.
  2. Then closing your eyes, bring your focus to the breath. Continue to breathe normally in and out and do this for a few breaths.
  3. Once you feel comfortable that you have a sense of your breath, begin the 1 minute with your timer.
  4. Mentally count out each breath. Breathe in, breathe out, count 1. Breathe in, breathe out, count 2, etc.
  5. Once the timer sounds, take note of the number of breaths you have taken over the span of that 60 seconds. Everyone has a differing number as we all breathe differently so don’t worry about comparing with others.
  6. You now have your reference point for that Mindful Minute, the number of breaths you recorded.

So there you have it, that one simple minute can help you clean your palette anytime you want. I use it on multiple occasions throughout the day. It can be used before you do a presentation, or before you start a meeting. It cleans the mind, brings you into the NOW and enables you to focus on something new.

Take a minute, give it a shot!!

Ready for more strategies and activities to progress your career as a Mindful Leader? Watch our Positive Leadership Workshop and attend upcoming sessions.

Declan Noone
About the Author
Declan Noone

Declan Noone is a passionate advocate for the continuous development and evolution of leaders within organisations. He is a co-founder of Serrano 99 Management Consulting, an innovative consulting company that brings positive psychology, behavioural fitness and mindfulness to businesses in order to help them perform, grow and improve. View their publication here.

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