The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, November 27, 2005

The Golden Hour

Hi <$firstname$>,

During a conversation earlier today, a formerly svelt young lady said that she had given up on the idea of exercise, because to have a body worth the trouble, it would take three or four hours a day.

Novice writers complain that in order to build their careers, it would take six or seven hours a day…so what is the point!

And more times than I could count, stressed-out acquaintances have said that they would love to meditate, but “don’t have the time.”

It is time we explode these falsehoods. The truth is that misconceptions like the above can completely steal your chances for health, happiness and success.

The truth is that you can get started on a fantastic fitness regimen in only an hour a week. Further, a focused writer can create a novel in a year in only an hour a day. And gigantic strides can be made toward stress relief in only five minutes a day. THAT is the playing field: give yourself five minutes, and you can cut your stress in half. Give yourself an hour a week, and you can have health and fitness. An hour a day can jump-start a career.

1) Five Minutes a day. Five times a day, for just sixty seconds, stop and breathe slowly and deeply from your belly. Go to a local yoga or Tai Chi school and ask to learn a relaxation breathing technique. If you can’t find one, then slow down, get quiet, and feel your heartbeat for sixty seconds. Do this every three hours for sixty seconds, and you will halve your stress levels.

2) An hour a week. Three times a week, perform twenty minutes of the right body-weight or weight exercises. Hindu Squats and Hindu Pushups are wonderful whole-body exercises. Do a Google search for them, and you’ll find multiple sites on the Internet selling or giving away the information for free. For faster results, use “Kettlebell” style whole-body weight exercises. These exercise tools look like little cannon-balls with handles, and they are used in a variety of swinging and yoga-like moves that are unbelievably efficient for developing strength, endurance, flexibility, power and athleticism, all at the same time. You can even use an ordinary dumbbell in the beginning. Again, do a Google search, and you’ll find the information, often for free!

3) An Hour a day. This is what I call the “Golden Hour.” You need to accept the idea that one hour out of every day belongs to you. Not your job, not your husband or wife, or your kids—it belongs to you. During this time, if you plan it properly, you can exercise, practice your art, meditate, read—whatever. If you are a writer, I’d suggest that Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you “flow”—just create rough draft, with no attempt to edit it. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday you do your editing, polishing the work you did the previous day. If you learn to focus properly, there is no reason in the world you can’t learn to produce 1000 words of rough draft in an hour. That’s enough to produce a novel a year, in just an hour a day.

The “Golden Hour” is a goal, one that might take you a year or two to work toward. But if you will just start with five minutes a day, and a commitment to an hour a week…working TOWARD an hour a day, you have placed your feet on the road toward peace of mind, a healthy body, and a happy heart: a tiny investment for a gigantic reward.

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