duration of meditation

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

duration of meditation

Postby orangemod » Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:10 am

Ok, a question.
I began practicing meditation about a month ago, 2 times a day for 15 minutes each.
So far I have been meditating for 15 minute increments.
I think I am having good luck or progress because thoughts (other than the sensations related to my breathing) are few & far between.

Maybe only 2 or 3 passing thoughts that I note and let pass by trying to see them in a different way than I used to before I began practicing.
Here is my question:
Am I okay to increase my time to 30 minutes or do I need to stay with a shorter time and do more practice. I hope the question makes sense. I just dont want to rush things and make a mistake by believing I am ready for something I am not.
Thanks in advance.
Metta

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Re: duration of meditation

Postby bodom » Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:37 am

If you want too increase your sitting time I suggest increasing five minute's each time. If your sitting for 15 minutes now try sitting for 20. When your comfortable sitting for 20 after a few days increase to 25. Keep increasing until you can sit for atleast 45-60 minutes straight. This may take some time and experimentation on your part but theres no need to rush it. Sitting regularly everyday is more important than the length your sitting for. Try to establish a firm minimum sitting time.

From Ajahn Chah:

Sitting for hours on end is not necessary. Some people think that the longer you can sit, the wiser you must be. I have seen chickens sit on their nests for days on end! Wisdom comes from being mindful in all postures. Your practice should begin as you awaken in the morning. It should continue until you fail asleep. Don't be concerned about how long you can sit. What is important is only that you keep watchful whether you are working or sitting.or going to the bathroom.
Last edited by bodom on Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:44 am, edited 2 times in total.
The heart of the path is SO simple. No need for long explanations. Give up clinging to love and hate, just rest with things as they are. That is all I do in my own practice. Do not try to become anything. Do not make yourself into anything. Do not be a meditator. Do not become enlightened. When you sit, let it be. When you walk, let it be. Grasp at nothing. Resist nothing. Of course, there are dozens of meditation techniques to develop samadhi and many kinds of vipassana. But it all comes back to this - just let it all be. Step over here where it is cool, out of the battle. - Ajahn Chah
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Re: duration of meditation

Postby zavk » Tue Jan 12, 2010 3:40 am

Hi orangemod

You'll find that there is no fixed answer to your question. But generally speaking, if you feel that you are becoming more confident in your practice then by all means sit for longer periods of time. 30-45 minutes is a good duration. But do it incrementally.

I think most people here would agree that it is a good idea to push your 'comfort zone'. If you are doing 15 minutes comfortably, then it might be a good idea to sit a little longer. Chances are you'll begin to experience feelings of discomfort, impatience, sleepiness, or whatever. But these are precisely the things that we have to investigate in meditation. The more we sit and investigate these feelings/thoughts (with mindfulness, that is) the more we awaken.

I would also suggest that you attend a retreat if you can find the time--if not a longish retreat (7-10 days) then at least a short one (3 days or so). A retreat would really give your practice a boost in momentum. Or if you can't attend a retreat then perhaps try to attend a group meditation session every now and then. If these things aren't available to you, well, feel free to raise questions here.

All the best.
With metta,
zavk
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Re: duration of meditation

Postby orangemod » Tue Jan 12, 2010 4:11 am

Thank you both for the good advise.

I will do just that.
Funny you mention a retreat. I have been investigating a 3 day retreat to help me learn & understand. I have begun to save up so I can properly donate and provide dana to the kind people who operate the retreat...or should I say dana to the retreat to help it to help others in the future.
I know this should not be my ONLY consideration, but giving is a two way street. If I feel I have done all that I can to help, I believe my stay will be very fruitful.
20 minutes starts just as soon as I leave here tonight :)
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Re: duration of meditation

Postby orangemod » Tue Jan 12, 2010 7:32 am

I have just experienced something in my 20 minutes that is new to me.
I used to have "peace of mind" I used to call it. That is the feeling that all is well. For the last 3-1/2 years I have had a lot of personal turmoil and peace of mind has been impossible to attain.
About 15 minutes into concentration meditation I came so very close to that old and much desired feeling without trying to attain anything except breath concentration. It really made me feel better than I have felt in a long time. I know I don't want to get attached to this state while doing future practice, but I feel like I have learned something even if I am not sure what it is. Maybe I am making some kinda progress, maybe just my mind playing tricks on me, but it certainly was very pleasant.
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Re: duration of meditation

Postby Lampang » Tue Jan 12, 2010 8:20 am

I've just re-started meditation (I started to mediate about 18 months ago but I'm building a house and that kind of got in the way) so I'm starting off with 20 minute sits. I use a timer on my mobile (I don't trust myself not to cheat appallingly) and I'm increasing the length of the session by 1 minute at the start of the week and 1 minute in the middle of the week. I figure that these tiny incremental extensions will be easily manageable and with luck I should be able to get up to 45 minutes without too much difficulty. Of course, whether it's 45 minutes wondering what to have for supper or 45 minutes concentrating on the breath is a different matter...
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Re: duration of meditation

Postby Cittasanto » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:01 pm

try just being mindful for one full breath!

don't set a timer, don't do anything but take your posture and aim for being mindful of the breath you are watching (same goes for all mindful practices), the length of time you meditate will increase by itself.
This offering maybe right, or wrong, but it is one, the other, both, or neither!
Blog, - Some Suttas Translated, Ajahn Chah.
"Others will misconstrue reality due to their personal perspectives, doggedly holding onto and not easily discarding them; We shall not misconstrue reality due to our own personal perspectives, nor doggedly holding onto them, but will discard them easily. This effacement shall be done."
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Re: duration of meditation

Postby catmoon » Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:32 pm

Lately I have been sitting with a simple intention: a session should be not less than ten minutes. But usually it works out to something in the 20-40 minute range and sometimes stretches as long as a couple of hours. It's interesting that there is a natural tendency to develop attachment to long sessions and aversion to short ones.
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Re: duration of meditation

Postby Guy » Thu Jan 14, 2010 11:36 pm

Hi catmoon,

catmoon wrote:It's interesting that there is a natural tendency to develop attachment to long sessions and aversion to short ones.


I think the reason for this is because usually it takes a little while for the hindrances to calm down and for the mind to become peaceful. I rarely sit down with a mind free from the hindrances, usually there is all kinds of sensory desire, then when that's settled down I have restlessness or sloth and torpor. Then on those rare occassions that the mind has reached a peaceful state I notice the link between the peace and sitting for a long period. Maybe it's the same with you?

With Metta,

Guy
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1) Giving; expecting nothing back in return
2) Throwing things away
3) Contentment; wanting to be here, not wanting to be anywhere else
4) "Teflon Mind"; having a mind which doesn't accumulate things

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