Many people think meditation requires at least "twenty minutes, twice a day" to start...and a lifetime to master. Today, however, you'll learn that it really is possible to meditate in a moment—and why it's so helpful to think of meditation in this momentary way.
The experience of enlightenment, which for so many traditions is the goal of meditation, can happen suddenly. Yes, it's true that sudden enlightenment seems to come to those who wait—or at least those who have been working hard for it by meditating, fasting, praying or doing various other forms of self-denial and self-mastery.
The actual experience, however, happens in a flash. And it can happen to people who have done no conscious preparation for it at all—people who didn't even know anything about enlightenment. It can happen in near-death experiences. It can happen to an addict when he hits bottom. It can happen to a mother when she gives birth. It can happen simply by looking at a piece of art in a certain way.
In these situations of sudden, unexpected enlightenment, there is a particular sense of grace because you are aware it was indeed a gift. You didn't work for it. You couldn't have worked for it. You didn't even do anything to earn it. And you can't take credit for it. Enlightenment, experienced in this way, is truly humbling.
Because enlightenment can happen suddenly, and even to those who are not looking for it and have not worked for it, this means (in theory) it can happen to you, right now. Although hard work over time might prepare the ground...well, you just never know.
Those who have experienced the deepest enlightenment also remind us, repeatedly, that the deepest peace is always available right here, right now—even if it took them a long time to realize it. Indeed, it is only available here and now because it comes from being fully present in this moment, not from thinking about that moment. In this moment, you are not distracted by the past, the future or anything to do with time.
Unfortunately, we seem to overlook this teaching immediately, and instead we conclude that we also have to spend a lot of time to realize it. In our desire to be in the moment, we run away from the moment. In other words, as soon as you start thinking about how long it takes to become peaceful or how long you should meditate, you miss the point—the point being that a moment doesn't take time. My belief is that we might as well get right to it. And do it now.
You began this course with a timed minute (The Basic Minute). Then you learned how to do that minute without the timer (The Portable Minute). Then you began to reduce the length of that minute on a step-by-step basis, learning how to do it in less and less time, and getting closer to the moment...one step at a time.
Now I have to tell you that the next step is not a step—it's more of a leap. As you reduce your breath count, heading toward a moment...well, I just can't say when you'll get there, because you are already there. Or rather, it is already here. In other words, timelessness just can't be scheduled, it's just right now. If you missed it, just then, then there is always now.
On most days, you will still find it useful to do a formal minute of meditation, or several of them. When you are feeling stressed by life, or pressed for time, it is helpful to use a whole minute to find a moment. You might also really enjoy the formality of it.
I suspect, however, that as your understanding of One-Moment Meditation deepens, you will begin to find that moments of peace just start occurring, all throughout the day, on a moment-by-moment basis. You will just realize that in this moment, you feel profoundly open, profoundly free, profoundly connected and profoundly okay. For a moment. And it doesn't matter whether you find it or it finds you.
In the following days, we will look at some particularly practical applications of One-Moment Meditation. For today, your instruction is just to relax about all this. Let moments of meditation happen to you. If you feel the need for a formal minute, by all means, do one. Do as many as you wish. Otherwise, just be open to the possibility that moments of meditation may simply happen to you spontaneously. You never know when you will simply find yourself—or lose yourself—in one.
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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Did you let moments of meditation happen to you today? What did you experience? Let us know—leave your comments and questions below!
Published on April 20, 2010