Meditation and the perception of time

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

Meditation and the perception of time

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 1:04 pm

I thought I'd share an experience that I have just had.

I settled down to do my normal mindfulness meditation. When I meditate I usually experience a definite moment; a point in time before which my mind has the usual chatter and after which my mind is still enough that I can concentrate on my breathing without mental perturbation. It is after this moment that I have often felt 'physical' sensations of pleasure. All angst seems to drop away and it happens suddenly (all the while I try not to become fixated or attached to that mental state and continue focusing on my breathing). I usually meditate in 30 minute slots; I'm usually too busy to commit more time. I use a discreet alarm to inform me when the 30 minutes is up.

In my past experiences I have always felt as though that moment in time, described above, happens right near the end of the 30 minute sitting with perhaps 5 minutes or so to maintain the focus before the alarm sounds. Obviously I have no way of knowing how long for sure it would usually take. Today was no exception. I passed that moment in time and continued and, on reflection, it felt like 25 minutes or so had passed. Just then, my phone loudly and obnoxiously rang. I usually put it on silent mode but had forgotten. The sudden loud noise startled me. When I looked at the clock, just 15 minutes had passed since I started the sitting.

What this suggests to me is that the early period of my sitting seems to drag, feeling like it is taking far longer than it really is (perhaps twice as long), yet the latter period of my sitting flies by in what seems like just moments. Presumably I'm not breathing more slowly, and I'm still being mindful of the breathing (but without numerically counting the breaths at that stage). Certainly I do not fall asleep, yet the time in the latter part of my sitting seems to progress far quicker than the early part.

Had I not received the phone call, I'd not have found this out. There isn't really anything I can do with the information. It doesn't affect anything and I don't really need advice about it. I just thought I'd share.
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Re: Meditation and the perception of time

Postby daverupa » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:08 pm

I've noticed this also during walking meditation.

I consider the effect to reflect the fact that, when laid down with mindful alertness, any given timeline which is being recollected will be more heavily populated with memorable instances, and the experiential sense of this will be of it having taken place over a longer time compared to those unmindful periods where fewer memorable instances are recalled. I think this handily connects the two senses of sati found in the suttas.
    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting oneself one protects others? By the pursuit, development, and cultivation of the four establishments of mindfulness. It is in such a way that by protecting oneself one protects others.

    "And how is it, bhikkhus, that by protecting others one protects oneself? By patience, harmlessness, goodwill, and sympathy. It is in such a way that by protecting others one protects oneself.
- Sedaka Sutta [SN 47.19]
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Re: Meditation and the perception of time

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 2:17 pm

daverupa wrote:any given timeline which is being recollected will be more heavily populated with memorable instances, and the experiential sense of this will be of it having taken place over a longer time compared to those unmindful periods where fewer memorable instances are recalled.
Well this certainly makes sense (except to say that the mindful periods are those with less memory recall at the time, so feel shorter)
daverupa wrote:I think this handily connects the two senses of sati found in the suttas.
Ah, you've gone beyond my level of understanding know. I've just always translated sati as 'mindfulness' and not been aware of two different senses of the word. This warrants further investigation :) thanks daverupa
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Re: Meditation and the perception of time

Postby Goofaholix » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:40 pm

Mawkish1983 wrote:Well this certainly makes sense (except to say that the mindful periods are those with less memory recall at the time, so feel shorter)


The mindful period was the beginning of your sit, when things seem to be going slowly it's because you're alert to moment to moment experience, if your meditation seems to have gone quickly it's probably because you haven't been fully aware much of the time.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Meditation and the perception of time

Postby Mawkish1983 » Sat Mar 02, 2013 6:50 pm

What was the second period?
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