Since writing One-Moment Meditation, I have met many people who were, at first, incredulous at my proposition that you can meditate in just a moment.
Many people assume that meditation takes a lot of time. Others think of meditation as an endurance test–the longer you can sit still, at peace, the more spiritual you are. Many people believe that the amount of time you spend in meditation has to “add up” before you “get it.”
The unfortunate consequence of all this is that many people try to meditate and give up, or just don’t try at all.
But time and time again, in seminars and workshops, I have taught people that it really is possible to make a make a meaningful change in their state of mind quickly–i.e. to meditate in a minute or less. Once they realize this, meditation suddenly becomes accessible. They realize that they can meditate for a moment whenever they need to, whether they are in waiting rooms, in traffic, in board rooms, or in between bites. They stop postponing peacefulness.
We sure do have a tendency to project our ideal of peacefulness onto some other time or place, when the conditions will be “perfect.” We imagine being peaceful sometime in the future–when we get home from work, after the kids grow up, when we retire. We imagine being peaceful when we find the perfect place–deep in the forest, on that private beach, on top of a mountain, or maybe only in the afterlife.
The belief that meditation takes a long time in order to be effective can become an excuse just like these–it lets us off the hook of being a bit more peaceful right now. For the moment in which we most need to be peaceful is the very moment in which it is not so easy to be peaceful. And the most important time to meditate is the very moment when we think, “I don’t have time to meditate.”
It is true that meditation practice was developed primarily by monks, nuns, and ascetics–people who considered it necessary to spend many years in silent retreat, far away from the hubbub of life. But in general, what all these great teachers learned from their lengthy, faraway training is the importance of being present in this moment, right now. So, I figure: if meditation ultimately teaches us to be present right here and now, then why don’t we start meditating right here, now? Why not start with this moment?
There is, however, a deeper reason why it is possible to meditate in just a moment …
In the wonderfully succinct words of the Krishnamurti, “It’s now or never.”
This doesn’t mean that if you aren’t peaceful now, you will never be peaceful. It means that, because the past and future are not really real, any thought of them is a distraction–a separation, a splitting. And it is this separation that is the cause of stress.
Putting that another way: it is really only possible to be peaceful in the present tense. Or maybe I should say: it is really only possible to be peaceful in the present, which is not tense. The reason why you don’t need a long time to be peaceful is that it actually doesn’t take any time to be peaceful. Being peaceful only takes a moment–an extraordinary, transient, timeless moment. And that moment is now.
So not only is it possible to meditate in a moment, you can’t really meditate any other way.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not against longer forms of meditation. They have considerable benefits and pleasures, and I do practice them. Nor do I dismiss the value of discipline and commitment and regularity of practice. But even when you do longer meditation, you still have to take it one moment at a time.
So, the main point of One-Moment Meditation is just to get right to the point. You don’t really have to go on a meditation retreat, or quit your job, or find “twenty minutes, twice a day” in order to experience peace. Deep peace is always available. It is offering itself to you now, now, and now again. And if you missed it then, don’t worry. It is still here now.