I was over at my friend Dave’s house when I noticed he had a book called 8-Minute Meditation. I had to take look at it. Since I think meditation can be experienced instantly and this fellow says you can do it in eight minutes, I was curious to see what he’s up to.

In a nutshell, he was offering your basic Buddhist meditation instruction while leaving out most of the Buddhist theory. That’s reasonable enough.

The book also, however, has a basic philosophical point, one contained in the following instruction:

Accept anything that is happening.

Hearing that, most of us can easily recall times when we were able to be accepting of whatever was happening, right along with situations when we were less accepting and not enjoying things so much as a result.

It would seem to be obvious that the reason we were happy in one instance and not the other was our acceptance of what was going on. So, if meditation is one way to practice being accepting, we do some simple math and find:

To meditate is to practice acceptance of whatever is happening… this gives you the ability to accept anything happening in your life moment to moment… which will then make you happy all the time! WOO HOO!

Unfortunately, there's one problem with this plan.

No one has ever accepted what is happening.


No one.

Here’s the reason:

It takes a measurable amount of time for anything we experience to come into our consciousness, including our own thoughts. To see examples of this in action, tune in to Time Warp, a show on TV in which they record different actions and play them back in very, very slow motion. Frequently, they calculate the time between when something is actually experienced - something like getting your legs waxed, for example - and a person’s response to the experience. The minimum difference between event and reaction? Approximately one tenth of second. More common? Approximately half of a second.

Over the last forty years, research has demonstrated it takes maybe 0.4 to 0.5 of a second before we consciously feel any kind of sensation. Recorded observations show that it takes about half of a second for us to notice that our brains are having a particular thought.

Explanations for why we don't feel this big gap in timing and how we are able to catch a baseball and not get hit in the face despite this gap are still being researched. One theory is that something called "consciousness" links those separate events to make it seem they are all happening in the current moment.

Whatever the reason, what's important is that:

There is no way to accept anything that "is happening" because whatever it is we think needs acceptance in the moment has HAPPENED ALREADY. All we ever experience is what’s previously "happened," not what’s currently "happening."

Give it a try: toss some kind of thought into your mind, as if you are tossing a stone into the lake. Maybe something like "a blue boat." When you toss in that thought, observe that, as you notice the blue boat you are thinking about, it is as if you are a little late to the party. First the thought started, then you arrived. Perhaps you feel the thought already shifting or leaving or changing by the time you start to be aware of the thought.

There is no way to "Be here now" because we’re actually "always there then."

Whaddaya discover?

Author's Bio: 

Steven Sashen began meditation when he was eight years old, was one of the first biofeedback pioneers, and researched cognition and perception at Duke University. In addition to a successful career as an entrepreneur and entertainer, Steven has taught transformational techniques around the world and developed the Instant Advanced Meditation Course, which Dr. Gay Hendricks calls, "Perhaps the fastest and easiest way to relax, expand awareness, and find deep inner-peace."

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Steven Sashen, the Official Guide To Meditation