Got a Sec? Mindfulness as Simple as 1-2-3.


Delivering the keynote speech at an academic conference on meditation, Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche Ph.D. told attendees people could transform their lives by using the Three Moment Method™ to anchor their minds in the present and avoid constant distractions.

“How much better would our lives be if we could gain control of our minds, if our minds were not enslaved by all of the information and distractions,” Rinpoche said during a nearly hour-long address given to more than 200 people April 11 at Virginia Tech University’s “Contemplative Practices in a Technological Society.”

“With the very small technique that I’m going to introduce to you…we can change our running-away mind to be controlled, from anguished to undisturbed,” he said.

Rinpoche—spiritual head of Dharmakaya, a non-profit organization, and the first realized Buddhist master to earn a doctoral degree from Harvard University—led the bill of featured speakers at the VTU gathering, which focused on how contemplative techniques can help people cope with technology-driven overload.

Rinpoche set the tone for the conference, describing how modern life is a blur of technology-driven advertising, breaking news and instant messages. Add to that demands to multi-task, and people are thinking about something other than what they’re doing almost 50% of the time.

“Our mind is bombarded with all of this information,” he said. “Not only that, to make the matter worse, we’re in the world of speed. We don’t even have time to think. We just have to do. And then we lose our creativity.”

Multi-tasking adds to the problem, he added, citing one study that found people’s minds wander from their immediate activity nearly 50% of the time.

Rinpoche proposed a remedy he called the Three Moment Method™ which distills centuries of Buddhist epistemology about perception, mental constructs, grasping and how to unwind all these through meditation.

• First Moment: Sensing.
“Things happen but your mind doesn’t know it yet. Only your sensory organs do…. You turn your head, see something but you don’t know what’s there.”

• Second Moment: Arising.
“An emotion comes up.” He added the moment could be split even finer, into thought leading to emotion.

• Third Moment™: Watching.
“You look into that feeling that has just arisen in yourself. You have to focus on that feeling, that emotion. No rationalizing, no reasoning. Not even prayer…. Anything other than looking at the moment is useless and a distraction. Reasoning can happen later on.”

And then what?

“You don’t have to do anything…. The essence of the mind is clarity. It’s clear. There is no boundary. It is free from all these negative feelings. And that emotion just deflates, or disappears by itself.”

Rinpoche said the technique can be employed anywhere, not just sitting on a meditation cushion, but relies largely on when we experience strong emotions as we go about our lives.

“When you have anger, that’s the best time to practice patience,” he added.

Other speakers and panelists at the three-day conference included Rich Fernandez, Senior People Development Lead, Google; Dr. Charles Lief, President, Naropa University; and business coach Michael Carroll, author of “Awake at Work” and “The Wisdom of Achieving Nothing: The Secret Sauce for Succeeding in the 21st Century.”

Conference workshops covered a range of topics, including mindfulness for entrepreneurs, the effects of tai chi chuan on sleep, and the benefits of yoga for children with autism.

The morning after his keynote address Rinpoche led a guided meditation for 50 conference participants.

For the video of a related Q & A with Rinpoche, click here.