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Un-alarming timers for meditation and the (10+2)*5 hack

If you're a beginning meditator, you may share my distraction of sometimes wondering "How long have I been doing this?" It's easy (and desirable) to lose track of time, but it can be worrisome if you need to be someplace later and are nervous about falling sleep or the like.

Commentor Ruth recently pointed us to Zencast, a site that does podcasts on Meditation, including an introduction to meditation series. Haven't listened to any of these yet, but I was pleased to notice that their first three shows of the podcast are just "timers" for meditating.

Each is an MP3 of 10, 20, or 30 minutes in length, and they each consist of a "Music for Airports"-like wash of ambient music at the beginning and end of the session and just silence in-between. The 20- and 30-minute versions also feature unobtrusive tones at 10 and 15 minutes respectively. Handy way to get time off your mind (a meditation hack?).

In a similar vein, don't miss Hernick's alarm-free MP3 for running the (10+2)*5 hack. As he says over on the board:

But syncing myself to a alarm? Urgh. Painful stuff. I hate buzzers.

So I invoked the power of Open Source: I fired up Hydrogen, a drum machine.

I laid down 12 minutes of beats; the beats synchronise you to the hack.

Both the mediation timers and the Dash tune are clever ways of having alarms without actually having alarms.

Matt's picture

I use an iTunes smart...

I use an iTunes smart playlist to get a block of time for focused work without having an alarm. This requires a task where the music won't distract you, but you still need to notice when the music stops (or not really care if you just keep working in silence).

To set up an iTunes playlist that randomly selects one hour of music to play:

  1. Create a new smart playlist (select File>New Smart Playlist...)
  2. Uncheck "Match the following rule"
  3. Check "Limit to" and make the rest say "60" "minutes" selected by "random"
  4. Select "Match only checked songs" or "Live updating," if desired.
  5. Click OK

Now you have 60 minutes of music ready to go any time you need an hour of focus. To update the list, simply delete what you've already heard and new songs will fill in to round out the hour.

If you have genre maintained properly throughout your music library, you can specify that you only hear, say, "Ambient" music during the hour by checking on "Match the following rule" and selecting "Genre" "contains" "Ambient".

I saved mine as "60 minutes" and keep it loaded with music I can work to whenever I need it.




An Oblique Strategy:
Honor thy error as a hidden intention


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