Jechbi wrote:I used to have a schedule that allowed me to maintain a steady commitment of an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening. I did that pretty regularly (ever day) for a year or so. Then life intruded. You know, job, kid, business, the whole nine yards.
I didn't develop to the stage where I could reduce the hours of sleep to accommodate meditation time. Plus, I have to admit, sometimes I'm still afflicted with laziness. Lately there have been days when I don't formally sit at all, which is pretty shocking for me, because in my mind I'm seriously committed to practice.
In the approach that works best for me (Goenka), it's recommended to meditate for an hour in the morning, and hour in the evening, plus a short period before getting out of bed and before going to sleep, plus whenever you've got some extra time. When I found that I was unable to maintain this, I began asking an assistant teacher about it. In fact, I asked more than one, because I struggled with the issue for some time.
A got a couple of answers that I find useful. One assistant teacher encouraged me to meet these life circumstances with equanimity, recognizing that things are always changing. Another said that even a shorter period of meditation time can be effective.
One AT told me that the recommended length of time is intended to ensure that there are at least some moments of good concentration in there. He said that even just a few minutes of good concentration can suffice. (Not that that's an excuse to sit for shorter periods, of course.)
I have found that short periods of meditation can be very effective, but when I keep up a regular regimen of longer periods, it's much more beneficial. The balance, of course, is still finding time to fullfill my responsibilities to my family, employer, my clients, my friends, and myself. I can't just drop out (nor would I want to at this stage).
The question posed in this thread, "How many hours a week do you meditate?" strikes me in a very personal way, like a wake-up call. Thanks for asking.
I certainly know where you are coming from. Finding the time for the two one-hourly sits can be a real challenge, and it continues to be a challenge for me. In the past, I have set the alarm clock at 4am and 5am to get out of bed and meditate before my family got up and, again, late at night when everyone had gone to bed. I've found that trying to meet the challenge of maintaining daily practice did benefit me - regardless of the perceived quality of those sits. And I also found that when I made a sincere commitment to perfect my practice, it was like it suddenly became easier, or supported in some way.
As you know, part of the practice is to develop the paramitas, and you can develop the perfections by maintaining precepts and practice against the tide of one's conditionings and the dominant cultural distractions one is immersed in.
Recently while packing up a house and preparing to make an interstate move I just didn't get the opportunity to sit for a number of days. But I think I've come to a point in my practice that if, for one reason or another, if i don't make the evening or morning sit, I don't worry about it like I used to. I'm confident that my practice is firmly established in my life now.
So Jechbi, if your aspiration is to meditate two hours a day, I recommend that you see if you can juggle your various commitments and see if you can fit in the two one-hour sits at times when it won't adversely affect others, and if not, see if you can get out of bed an hour or so earlier than usual.