Every so often, you experience a radical change in your life—a sudden reversal of the way things are going—and it happens in just a moment. This is what we're going to look at today: the potential for just one moment to change everything.
Unlike the minute, which is a rather structured and predictable thing, the moment seems to have an innate ability to surprise you. In just a moment, something can happen—unexpected and out of your control—that has a profound impact on your life.
In some such moments—falling in love at first sight, winning the lottery, having a car accident—you know instantly that your life has changed. In others, you might have no idea of their significance until years later, but when you look back, you realize that some small decision—to go to that party, to make that phone call, to read that book—set in motion a whole series of events that turned out to be hugely significant.
Life-changing moments are not, of course, always happy. We can revise our opinion of them as time goes by. What seemed like a devastating moment at the time can, years later, seem like a gift...and vice versa. For example, many people have told me that a car accident (even a serious one) was one of the best things that ever happened to them. Looking back, they conclude their lives had been going in the wrong direction, and the car accident forced them to stop, think and set a new course.
In other words, life-changing moments teach you that not everything in life moves along a predictable path. No matter what you believe about the future, or where you are heading consciously, the universe may have other plans. Whether you believe this has to do with fate, destiny, chance, karma or the will of God, the point is that great change is possible, and it can happen with no advance warning.
If you want to develop a sense of reverence or if you just want to take yourself less seriously, the quickest thing you can do is reflect on the power of a moment to change everything. (Try doing this instead of just focusing on how nothing ever changes.) Use a real example from your life, and don't worry about whether the moment was positive or negative. Just reflect on how powerful and unexpected it was. I believe that if you do this sincerely, there is really only one conclusion you can reach: Wow.
As you reflect on that moment, also consider that perhaps there is another life-changing moment waiting for you right now. You actually have no idea what will happen in the next moment...and no one else does either. Also consider that this moment, right now, could be life-changing.
If you understand this nature of a moment to surprise us—its radical possibility and constant reinvention—then you know things are actually always changing. The universe—sometimes with a big push, sometimes with a small invitation—is always offering you a new perspective on your old problems.
No matter how many times you have tried to quit smoking, find a new job, go on a diet or commit to meditation—in this moment, right now, you have a brand-new opportunity. This moment has never happened before.
The only thing stopping you from experiencing this moment as an extraordinary opportunity is the mindset you are bringing to it. If you can learn to clear your mind, moment by moment, you can treat each moment as the fresh opportunity that it is. In other words, the more open you are to the moment, the more you'll be able to respond to its offer.
Today, before your meditation, bring into your awareness the memory of a time—a moment—that your life changed suddenly and unexpectedly. Don't focus on whether this was a positive or negative experience. Just let this memory remind you of how powerful and unpredictable a moment can be. Then do your meditation.
Martin Boroson is a playful, practical new voice in the next wave of meditation teachers. Author of One-Moment Meditation: Stillness for People on the Go, he lectures on the benefits of a meditative mind for decision-making and leadership. Marty studied philosophy at Yale, earned an MBA from the Yale School of Management and is a formal student of Zen. Visit his website for One-Moment Meditation® help and resources, tweet him at @takeamoment or find him on Facebook.
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What mindset do you bring to each moment? Are you trying to shift that? Let us know—leave your comments and questions below!
Published on April 16, 2010