Time to Practice

by meditative - December 13th, 2015

Time is a measure of human doings. Moments unfold for human beings…

How long should one regularly practice meditation in a session… allowing one the time to settle into stillness- the time for sustained attending from moment to moment- the time to experience at least tastes of deepening relaxation, calm, and ease- as well as the time to potentially engage our more challenging mind states? Many formal meditation teachers suggest at least 45 minutes of regular, and daily, if possible, practice to cultivate the aforementioned.

What’s important to know about meditation is that it has little to do with clock time. A formal practice of 5 minutes can be as profound or more so than 45 minutes. The sincerity of our effort matters far more than elapsed time since we are talking about stepping out of minutes and hours and into moments, which are truly dimensionless and therefore ‘timeless’.

So if we have some motivation to practice even a little that’s what is important. Mindfulness needs to be kindled and nurtured as well as protected from the scattered energies of a busy life, or the frequent ‘chatter’ of a restless and tormented mind. Whether our early experiences are 5 minutes, or even 1 minute of mindfulness at first, this purposeful intent means we have remembered the value of stopping- of shifting even momentarily from doing… tosimply being.

If we think about it for a moment, few of us, no matter what we do, or what situation we find ourselves in would be unable to free up 1 or 2 fifteen minute blocks of time out of 24-hours, and if not 15, then 10 or 5. Recall that in a line 6 inches long there are an infinite number of points, and in a line 1 inch long there are just as many. Well then, how many moments are there in 15 minutes- or 5- or 10- or 45?  It turns out that we have plenty of time if we are willing to hold any moments at all in our awareness. Forming the intention to practice, and then seizing a moment- any moment- and encouraging it fully in your inward and outward posture lies at the core of mindfulness.

Try sitting for varying lengths of clock time. See how it affects your practice. Does your concentration lapse as you sit longer? Do you get caught up in how much longer you have to be present? Does impatience come up at some point? Does the mind get reactive or obsessive? Is there restlessness, anxiety, boredom, time pressure, sleepiness, or dullness? If you are new to meditation, are you finding yourself saying?- “This is stupid”– or “Am I doing it right”– or “Is this all I am supposed to be feeling?” Do these feelings start right away or do they only come up after awhile?

If we can simply observe these mind states attentively, purposefully, and non-judgmentally, we may learn a lot about what is strong and unwavering in ourselves, and what is strong in us may become even stronger as we nourish inner stability and calmness with a concerted regimen of mindfulness meditation.