daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby no mike » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:24 pm

Hi, friends;

Assuming daily practice of morality, precepts, mindfulness, Dhamma study, etc... If there was a choice of one or the other, which scenario might have better momentum for the development of deeper states of concentration: daily one-hour meditation, or weekends (consecutive) dedicated to all-day scheduling of walking/sitting?

Thanks :)
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:37 pm

If you have the time and willingness to do long sessions on the weekend, I don't see why you couldn't do the daily practice as well, even if it's for less than an hour. But I don't know your situation so please forgive me.
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby no mike » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:40 pm

Mkoll wrote:If you have the time and willingness to do long sessions on the weekend, I don't see why you couldn't do the daily practice as well, even if it's for less than an hour. But I don't know your situation so please forgive me.


Ah, both, haha. Can you pick which one you think would have more value, in theory?

Thanks!
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby Mkoll » Tue Jun 03, 2014 11:42 pm

no mike wrote:
Mkoll wrote:If you have the time and willingness to do long sessions on the weekend, I don't see why you couldn't do the daily practice as well, even if it's for less than an hour. But I don't know your situation so please forgive me.


Ah, both, haha. Can you pick which one you think would have more value, in theory?

Thanks!

Sorry, I can't say for sure.

May your practice be fruitful either way. :smile:
Peace,
James
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby Virgo » Wed Jun 04, 2014 12:00 am

no mike wrote:Ah, both, haha. Can you pick which one you think would have more value, in theory?

Thanks!

Daily, I think.

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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby SarathW » Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:07 am

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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby walkart » Wed Jun 04, 2014 6:06 am

Daily 100%.

Searches shows that it's much more efficace to learn/train something 15 min every day, rather 3h once a week. Also in some sutta in AN Buddha teach us about importance of repetition.
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby no mike » Wed Jun 04, 2014 9:59 am

SarathW wrote:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3oEk_3dKttQ


Momentum to the end. Another analogy that comes to mind is the kettle on the stove, to which I was referred on this forum some time ago. Short periods of full heat will not lead to a boil, unless left there long enough.

That is the problem I see as a lay person; the daily one hour thing helps with cultivating insight and mindfulness. But I think it is the longer day-and-night in solitude that will let the "concentration" go deeper.

I understand both schedules together, and I get the value of the daily sitting; my post is based on wondering about the need for more than an hour a day to achieve deeper states of concentration.
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby bananaporridge » Wed Jun 04, 2014 10:57 am

24/7 all the best!
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby Coyote » Wed Jun 04, 2014 11:24 am

I think this is something that can only be answered personally, or with close association with a teacher. Are the short sessions becoming an obstacle for deeper concentration? Unless this is so, I would concentrate on daily sessions, even if they are short. It can become a daily island of peace, quite motivating even when you don't have the time to go deeper. In terms of your analogy it is better to keep the kettle on the heat so that when you have the time you can bring it to the boil. Of course, this might not matter if you have a powerful stove.
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby Sokehi » Wed Jun 04, 2014 2:45 pm

A motivational and interesting short talk by Ajahn Thiradhammo he gave just recently at Aruna Ratanagiri:
"Who's up for the challenge?"
http://ratanagiri.org.uk/talks/luang-po ... challenge/
Get the wanting out of waiting

What does womanhood matter at all, when the mind is concentrated well, when knowledge flows on steadily as one sees correctly into Dhamma. One to whom it might occur, ‘I am a woman’ or ‘I am a man’ or ‘I’m anything at all’ is fit for Mara to address. – SN 5.2

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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby no mike » Sat Jun 07, 2014 12:43 pm

Mkoll wrote:
no mike wrote:
Mkoll wrote:If you have the time and willingness to do long sessions on the weekend, I don't see why you couldn't do the daily practice as well, even if it's for less than an hour. But I don't know your situation so please forgive me.


Ah, both, haha. Can you pick which one you think would have more value, in theory?

Thanks!

Sorry, I can't say for sure.

May your practice be fruitful either way. :smile:


Thank you :)

I believe I am making progress on the path, particularly towards the insight side of meditative practice. Deeper "absorption" meditation, however, may require some changes. As a busy dad, and living in a busy region, it is not easy to find empty huts, caves, and roots of trees without passersby or things that will eat me, at least in terms of longer duration and consistent scheduled practice, for example, a full day of seated and walking meditation each weekend. That is why I posted my question. Can I be expected to make progress with deep concentration (not just mindfulness) with one hour of seated meditation per day?

My current thoughts about modern technology and US culture, is that I can access instruction on paper or pdf, and look for friends on e-sangha, but there are limitations. The Dhamma mentions "Approaching" someone who can teach me the skills and ways of practice I need, if there is something my personality and practice is lacking.

It would be nice if lay followers could practice as bhikkhus regularly on the weekends. But this is not an option that I can see in the US, so I live in solitude with my laptop and books. The solitude is fine but the Buddha also recommends Good Friends. There is a "serene reflection meditation" center within a day-drive from here, but I am not sure if they practice toward jhana meditation, etc. That is why I posted my question, to consider the importance or even necessity for routines of longer days without distractions, dedicated to deeper meditation.
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby Ron-The-Elder » Sat Jun 07, 2014 12:59 pm

:coffee: Mike, if you have a set of outside bulkhead doors, which allow access to your basement or lower levels of your house, you may want to consider, vacuuming it out, and installing some old, soft carpet on the steps. You can close the outside doors, and the inside door and sit in the dark for hours on end. *Warning: This is not a good idea for those of us who have venomous creatures (spiders, snakes, lizards) in our neighborhoods as they like the dark cool regions much as we meditators do. :tongue:

As for which duration of meditation is better, my experience has been that both are useful. We have an ecumenical group which meets weekly on Tuesday nights, which allows us to sit at length, and I try to meditate opportunistically, whenever there is a lull in activities, which is far a few between during the last few weeks, like yourself, only instead of kids and a job, we have remodeling and pets which require our attention.

Thanks for the thread and for sharing your experience.

_/\_Ron :smile:
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby Anagarika » Sat Jun 07, 2014 1:42 pm

Mike, your posts are really very good, and point out some of the challenges that we face in the west when trying to do the practice as the Buddha taught it, with jhana being a big part of that. Even living near a big city in the US, as I do, it's hard to find practice centers, teachers, and a sangha that feels comfortable. Zen centers are somewhat plentiful, but my experience has been mixed when I have sought out zendos in order to have a sangha to sit with. Some cities have Thai wats for example, but these often serve the Thai and Lao community, and instruction in English is not always available.

Personally, I have traveled to my home Wat in Thailand, and even a few days there my meditation is peaceful, deep, and beyond the level of calm that I can cultivate in my home city environs. It may be that one answer to your first question is that periods of retreat, supplemented by daily meditation, are a good path. I feel that the ability to get away, to divorce oneself form the day to day grind and interruptions of western life, and to immerse oneself into meditation is the most welcoming approach to the practice. These longer practice periods allow me to establish calming and insight territory that I can then return to in shorter, daily practice.

Because sangha can be difficult to find, I know that literally others within the Theravada tradition have started sitting and Sutta study groups, maybe using MeetUp as a means to draw a sangha to you...some days there might be just yourself meditating in your borrowed space (UU church or yoga center), and others a few more people. I feel that without a Theravada sangha nearby, in the west we need to step outside our own comfort zones, and start our own small sanghas. The Buddha placed high value on the association with kalyana mitta. Perhaps reach out to https://www.facebook.com/spartanburgbuddhist2012 or http://carolinabuddhist.net/ and see if you can make some good connections there.
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby no mike » Sun Jun 08, 2014 12:50 am

Ron-The-Elder wrote::coffee: Mike, if you have a set of outside bulkhead doors, which allow access to your basement or lower levels of your house, you may want to consider, vacuuming it out, and installing some old, soft carpet on the steps. You can close the outside doors, and the inside door and sit in the dark for hours on end. *Warning: This is not a good idea for those of us who have venomous creatures (spiders, snakes, lizards) in our neighborhoods as they like the dark cool regions much as we meditators do. :tongue:

As for which duration of meditation is better, my experience has been that both are useful. We have an ecumenical group which meets weekly on Tuesday nights, which allows us to sit at length, and I try to meditate opportunistically, whenever there is a lull in activities, which is far a few between during the last few weeks, like yourself, only instead of kids and a job, we have remodeling and pets which require our attention.

Thanks for the thread and for sharing your experience.

_/\_Ron :smile:


No basement around here, plus I am in a 2 bedroom condo. It's wonderful when I know the kids won't be home, say for one hour or so. But the longer multiple-hour thing, they somehow find their way back here no matter how far I drop them off :D

As for day-to-day meditations, walking meditation, and various mindfulness activities, it has not been a problem in regards to finding opportunities.

Thank you :)
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby no mike » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:22 am

Anagarika wrote:Mike, your posts are really very good, and point out some of the challenges that we face in the west when trying to do the practice as the Buddha taught it, with jhana being a big part of that. Even living near a big city in the US, as I do, it's hard to find practice centers, teachers, and a sangha that feels comfortable. Zen centers are somewhat plentiful, but my experience has been mixed when I have sought out zendos in order to have a sangha to sit with. Some cities have Thai wats for example, but these often serve the Thai and Lao community, and instruction in English is not always available.


There is a Thai "forest temple," about 1.5-2 hours from here. I will contact them to see if they have anything available by way of visiting/staying short periods, or meditation instruction. Their website only mentions special day observances and services, etc.

What I liked very much that I saw in Thailand, was that lay people could be monks for a weekend (how awesome is that?), a week, a month, or indefinitely. Here, lay people are lay people, and access to brief stays at temples seems much more limited. There are opportunities for registering with groups of others for various scheduled retreats, but they are usually infrequent and kind of far away. Don't get me wrong, the retreats look very beneficial, but such opportunities for me are limited by being away from my kids for too long.

I tried making my own little place like a temple. I don't listen to music or watch tv, I don't drink, eat meat, and I even tried some no-meals-after 12 recently. Thank goodness nobody here to enforce that last one on an ongoing basis :) (it was however, very much worth investigating).

Next on my agenda is to seek some inspiration and tips from historical or fellow laypeople. I know there are biographies like that out there, I could rotate material like that into my Dhamma reading.

Thanks again, for posting feedback :)
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Wat Metta

Postby no mike » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:07 pm

http://www.watmetta.org/index.html

The Metta Forest Monastery may be the best example of what I am looking for in the US, only something closer to where I live, or at least a day's drive.

"There are no scheduled retreats at the Monastery as there are at most meditation retreat centers. Rather, the Monastery is always in “retreat” mode, and visitors drop into and out of the routine according to their own schedules. All visitors are asked to observe the Eight Precepts and to participate fully in the daily schedule of the Monastery."

I will continue to make my own home my own little refuge, and I am about to order Pure and Simple, Upasika Kee Nanayon/Thanissaro. Looking to accomplished laypeople as role models for inspiration and practical solutions.

I think I am finding a lot of what I need by making a place and livelihood as wholesome and free from distractions as possible, but a good meditation teacher I can visit on occasion might be critical. Perhaps I will stick with my multiple-hour walks in nature as my long version of meditation. Can't seem to find a place to sit out there before the occasional tourist finds me, but maybe I need to search a little harder, wear a bug net, and not sit on any fire-ant mounds.

*
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby Spiny Norman » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:31 pm

no mike wrote:Assuming daily practice of morality, precepts, mindfulness, Dhamma study, etc... If there was a choice of one or the other, which scenario might have better momentum for the development of deeper states of concentration: daily one-hour meditation, or weekends (consecutive) dedicated to all-day scheduling of walking/sitting?


Meditating all day is going to be more beneficial than meditating for an hour, but regularity is also important. Can you not do both?
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby no mike » Sun Jun 08, 2014 6:37 pm

Spiny Norman wrote:
no mike wrote:Assuming daily practice of morality, precepts, mindfulness, Dhamma study, etc... If there was a choice of one or the other, which scenario might have better momentum for the development of deeper states of concentration: daily one-hour meditation, or weekends (consecutive) dedicated to all-day scheduling of walking/sitting?


Meditating all day is going to be more beneficial than meditating for an hour, but regularity is also important. Can you not do both?


I could do both, but I need to consider changes.

The longer schedule for the weekends would be tricky but I could try to put forth the effort, make arrangements, etc. It may require a whole change in Buddhist schools.
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Re: daily short meditations vs weekly long sessions

Postby manas » Sun Jun 08, 2014 7:16 pm

Hi mike

I find that the mind responds well to being calmed daily. It kind of gets used to it, and once it becomes a habit, it seems to 'ask' for it even, in that if you miss a session, for the rest of that day you feel like something is 'missing', your mind actually reminds you that you have not meditated as yet that day! That's been my experience, anyway.

:anjali:
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