by Karey Pohn, AHBI Board Member
Edited and posted by Alysson Troffer, The Inner Door Editor, InnerDoor (at) ahbi.org
My colleague and fellow AHBI board member Martin Boroson wrote a book entitled The One Moment Meditation. I saw the book in January 2011 and because it was about meditation—something that I don’t particularly love—and it had an unassuming white cover, I never even picked it up. What a huge mistake! Then, in September 2011, after Marty facilitated our amazing Open Space event during the birthday celebrations for Stan and Christina Grof in Joshua Tree, California, I decided to check it out, and a whole new world opened up for me.
Marty’s book turned out to be one of the most important and impactful books I have ever read, and it helped me in many ways. As president of the AHBI Board, Marty was reticent about me doing a book review, but I wanted to share my experience of this profound book, and being the Community Support Chair as well as overseeing The Inner Door, I prevailed upon him and he agreed.
First of all, before reading the book, I considered myself to be a failed meditator because, for me, meditation took too much time, which I did not have enough of in the first place because I was too busy, and it didn’t feel good. My back would always hurt, and it was too boring—you know, all the standard excuses.
This book shows us the enormous power of a moment, which like the power of an atom is small but packed with potential and energy that we can dip into without all of the fuss and muss of nuclear fission. Marty reveals that “moment” in Latin means: “a particle sufficient to turn the scales.” And that is just what this book and the “One Moment Meditation” did for me. It changed my life, how I relate to and perceive time, and is full of wisdom and interesting ideas.
The idea of a One Moment Meditation appealed to me because it doesn’t really take any time, and I couldn’t use that excuse. Marty outlines the simple and easy technique, starting with what he calls the Basic Minute, which is the training ground for the One Moment Meditation. You begin practicing the Basic Minute—which true to its name is only one minute long, and you time yourself. As you get used to the technique, you then reduce the time down to a moment; how cool and easy is that? And for me, it was important because there are no excuses for not doing it, nowhere to run to baby, nowhere to hide!
Although Marty recommends reading the book slowly as you work through it, I got really excited and read the whole thing in a day, and it changed my relationship to time. Now, I am going back and actually learning his techniques step by step, and also savoring the richness and wisdom that the book contains.
Marty then introduces a variety of different Minutes, variations on the theme, so to speak: the Portable Minute, which you can do anywhere; the Emergency Minute for crisis situations; the Surprise Minute for when you discover you don’t have anything else to do and want to take a Minute; and the Bonus Minute, a Minute you take as a reward for finishing other things early as a gift to yourself.
For me, the Emergency Minute is the most valuable because it helps you “hit the pause button on your life” and is very helpful when you feel panicked, angry, pressured, confused, or shocked. I use it most often when I am overwhelmed, which is my personal bête noire. Practicing this very short meditation helps me respond to situations instead of impulsively react to them.
After getting comfortable with the Minute, we then proceed to the Moment. Marty helps us get to really know and understand the Moment, and more importantly, teaches us how to actually learn how to be in the moment, with step-by-step instructions.
Moments are momentous, or they can be, and Marty proves it. For me, a person who read Ram Dass's Be Here Now really fast so I could finish it (essentially missing the whole point), this was huge. Marty explains the importance of being versus becoming peaceful, and how the One Moment Meditation helps us do just this, allowing us to tap into the peacefulness that is always there, like the cosmic background radiation. This is how we master the moment and this, he feels, is the key to success in life.
Healing, inspiration, joy, and fantastic new and unexpected ideas happen in a moment. Breakthroughs, too, happen suddenly in a moment. Marty gives a fascinating history and philosophy of time, which for me was very eye-opening and transformative in itself. Time, it turns out, is not a fixed thing at all and, in fact, is quite malleable and flexible when you get right down to it.
But, getting back to the Moment, Marty identifies many different moments: Eureka moments, moments of grace and enlightenment, and Hitting Bottom to name a few. Rebirth is one of these moments.
Psychiatrist Stan Grof has identified four typical stages of the rebirth process, echoing actual childbirth. We begin in a state of innocence (the womb), experience a crisis (the onset of labor), struggle through a difficult and dangerous transition (the birth canal), and then suddenly find ourselves in a new world (birth), a world that we couldn’t have possibly anticipated. Emerging into the light we feel released from old patterns of behavior and from the enormous tension we felt just a moment before.
After referring to Stan’s work about the rebirth process, Marty explains:
The moment of rebirth is directly preceded by an experience of psychological death, when our old patterns of behavior reach an unbearable climax. This is a moment of enormous challenge and but also of extraordinary opportunity, for if we can realize the inner psychological challenge demanded of us, then in just a moment, everything can change. (p. 100)
The One Moment Meditation has given me a place to go to take a break from my inner critic. It’s the pause that refreshes. It literally takes only a moment to do, less than a minute, so it can be done anytime, anywhere and boy does that come in handy. You can just say to someone, “give me a moment,” or “just a second,” in the middle of a conversation or phone call, and call upon the Moment, and give yourself a break, a chance to regroup, recharge, and renew. You can tap into this eternal spaciousness at will, and for someone who has in the past had huge issues with time and space, this was transformative.
But most important for me was in realizing how the One Moment Meditation can work with the perinatal matrices of Stan’s cartography of the psyche. This was really exciting because I am creating a monopoly-style board game based on the perinatal matrices. In the game, people will be given tips and strategies for how to better navigate these different archetypal landscapes, which show up not only in Holotropic Breathwork sessions but in all of life.
While preparing for the Grof Celebration and Open Space event, I took a break from my board game and was still holding the question of what exactly are some of these tips and strategies. Well, the Universe answered my question during the Insight and Opening Retreat that followed these events. (What a sense of humor the Universe has because that is when I got Marty's book.)
After reading the book, I thought, wow, wouldn’t it be great if the book cover had an hourglass with a kind of BPM 2 and BPM 3 feeling of impending doom and time looming large, and getting nowhere fast with a person on a hamster wheel, and stuckness and time slipping away, and being stuck in a whirlpool. Then, at the middle of the hourglass is the book, and at the bottom of the hourglass is a beach scene where the same person is relaxing on a lounge chair, reading a book and a new idea is striking him or her (BPM 1 and 4).
So I made a mandala of the book to convey this vision, and for future editions of the book, hopefully something like it will be on the cover so that people can see in an instant what this book offers.
The One Moment Meditation is a great way to take a break from the Saturnian stuckness of BPM 2, or the Plutonic pressure of BPM 3, or even the unpredictable Uranian upheaval of BPM 4 or the Neptunian nebulousness of BPM 1—because all of the perinatal places have their shadow sides as well as their gifts and strengths.
For me initially, the One Moment Meditation was a great way to get out of the totally intense places of BPM 2 and 3. It is thus like a Get Out of Jail Free card. Then, it dawned on me that we can get stuck in illusion and confusion, as well as become frazzled from the disruption and dizzying speed of the pace of change, just as easily as being in those other places. So it is really a great, all-purpose navigational strategy for all areas of your life.
Who would have thought that in giving a birthday party for Stan and Christina, I could have got such an amazing gift, that I will now, through my board game, be able to share with others in a really wonderful way.
Karey Pohn, J.D., Ph.D., is an AHBI Board Member and chair of the Community Support committee. She also serves on the Membership, Publicity, and Executive committees.
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