Meditation expert Martin Boroson came up with the idea for his One Moment Meditation technique out of necessity. When Boroson arrived at a corporate law firm in Dublin to teach a meditation session in 2002, he found that instead of a few hours in a quiet, relaxed location as he had expected, the session was going to take place in a boardroom during lunch hour, with sandwiches lining the conference table.
Boroson decided to teach the roomful of lawyers in suits a short meditation exercise instead of the longer one he had planned. "To my surprise, something happened and it really worked. You could feel the change in the room," he said.
After that experience Boroson realized that, for many people, meditating for a minute could be more valuable and more realistic than meditating for a longer session.
The One Moment Meditation technique starts with what Boroson calls a "basic minute." Boroson starts and stops the minute by ringing a bell and tells people to focus on their breathing. If the mind wanders, he suggests gently bringing the focus back to the breath.
He chose a minute because it is an easily identifiable unit of time and because everybody, no matter how busy they are, can spare a minute. Although people have a tendency to want to try a longer session after they realize that they can do a minute, Boroson cautions against that.
"If you were to do that exercise for longer than a minute, it would become something else; you wouldn’t realize how much you can do in just a minute," he said.
Boroson, 50, advises people to eventually reduce the amount of time to less than a minute so that it can be used anytime, anywhere. Once you are comfortable with meditating for a minute, and learn how do-able and effective it is, then you learn how to reduce the length of that, step by step, until "it only takes a moment," said Boroson. "You can meditate while waiting for something to download or on the subway or while standing in line."
Boroson himself tries to meditate for 30 minutes every morning but doesn’t always get to it. He does two longer meditation retreats every year and uses his One Moment Meditation method "constantly" throughout the day.
Born and raised in New York, Boroson studied philosophy at Yale, got an MBA and then trained as a psychotherapist. He recently wrote a book about his meditation technique titled One Moment Meditation: Stillness for People on the Go, and he teaches One Moment Meditation through online courses, one-on-one sessions and workplace training.
Although the book is influenced by his personal practice of Zen Buddhism, the technique is not in any one tradition. According to Boroson, the method of One Moment Meditation is most useful for two distinct groups of people: those who have tried to mediate and failed and people who had a concentrated meditation experience but have struggled to integrate it into their daily life.
"Most people get that meditation is good for you. They know they should go to the gym, meditate, save for retirement and floss," Boroson said. "But all these things we ‘should’ do become stressful. Even the thought of meditation can become stressful." This escalating cycle of stress is what Boroson calls "stresscalation."
April 16 is National Stress Awareness Day and Boroson is hoping that people will observe the day by taking a vow not to pass stress on to others.
"It helps turn down the volume of stress. Being peaceful spreads peace and stops the stresscalation," said Boroson. "As soon as you notice that you are stressed is the time to take a moment to meditate."
Boroson wants to use meditation as a tool to help create happy work environments, and his technique has been used in some unlikely places where a little calm is needed.
For example, Boroson heard about a woman who trains midwives to coach pregnant women in One Moment Meditation so that they could use it during contractions.
Another time, Boroson taught 150 physicians at Kaiser Medical Center during rounds so that they could use meditation to quickly collect a bit of calm before entering the examining room.
"We are so in the habit of thinking that great change takes time, but it can just take a moment," Boroson said. "A mental shift can happen in no time. You can change your mind in an instant."
For more information, including a demonstration of One Moment Meditation