Meditation Duration

Michael Robert McDowell, modified 1 Year ago.

Meditation Duration

Post: 1 Join Date: 5/2/20 Recent Posts
I was under the impression that two hours a day would be sufficient (along with occasional retreats) for practising insight meditation.

However I have read here that one really needs between 5 and 15 hours daily sits to make any meaningful progress (at the higher levels?).

Given that this may well be the bitter truth of things, I'd be interested in some more experienced folks thoughts on what one can expect to achieve with a more typicial one hour mourning and one hour evening medatition session.

Thanx, Michael
shargrol, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Meditation Duration

Posts: 1578 Join Date: 2/8/16 Recent Posts
The people who make progress tend to be those people who notice how their mental habits prevent themselves from living a good life -- this very practical motivation is what allows them to make progress. These people notice how they are often defensive, worried, overly ambitious, selfish, avoidant and all of that psychological stuff is obscuring and fucking-up how simple and good life can be. 

These people use each sit to explore the resistances in their body and mind. They notice how it's nearly impossible to experience "just sitting, just as it is." Instead we have all sorts of plans and ambitions and worries and daydreams... And when these come up, they look at _why?_  Why am I unable to just sit here and breathe and enjoy the pleasure of seclusion? It's so simple, but why can't I do it?

These people know that EVERYONE that has made progress has had to go through these investigations into their own body and mind. They know that the theory is simple, but the practice involves hours looking at their own body, mind, and experiences...

These people notice that there are always positive, negative, and neutral feelings and sensations... but the mind/body quickly reacts with greed, aversion, and indifference. These people learn to distinguish between the positive feeling and sensation and the greed which follows, the negative feeling and sensation and the aversion which follows, and the neutral feelings and sensations and the indifference that follows. As a result they slowly weaken the reactive patterns that keep us trapped in always seeking the next positive sensation, always fearing the next negative sensations, and always getting bored when there are neutral sensations.

These people are then able to sit and LET experiences arise and pass. And they begin to notice how their broader attitudes or "worldviews" have a strong determination on what we experience. They notice that a lot of their philosophies and beliefs are actually very selfish and designed to protect our "self". They notice that thoughts about being independent being that needs to get and hoard all the good experiences in the world --- it reinforces samsara. Thoughts about being an interdependent being who's life depends on good relations with all beings --- it reinforces nirvana. They notice how the four attitudes of friendliness, appreciation, acceptance, and caring are the only attitudes that can serve as a foundation for basic sanity. 

These people might be those people that only practice for one or two hours a day. But these people don't just practice formally for one hour in the evening and one hour in the morning, but turn their entire life into practice. They notice that what they see on-cushion  also occurs off-cushion and they keep noticing greed, aversion, and indifference; noticing worldviews, noticing relationships with other beings...

These people also know that sometimes you just gotta chill out and eat a grilled cheese sandwhich and not worry so much about progress all the time. They go down to the park and watch the skateboarders wipe out. They notice the clouds in the sky. They search for the best green chili breakfast burrito in town... And then they get back on the cushion.

And those people are the ones that make progress.

If you turn your life into practice, you will easily be practicing 5 to 15 hours daily. Things will probably be more difficult living this way, but only because that's what it takes to live a good life.

Hope that helps someone in some way.
Tim Farrington, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Meditation Duration

Posts: 2470 Join Date: 6/13/11 Recent Posts
shargrol:
The people who make progress tend to be those people who notice how their mental habits prevent themselves from living a good life -- this very practical motivation is what allows them to make progress. These people notice how they are often defensive, worried, overly ambitious, selfish, avoidant and all of that psychological stuff is obscuring and fucking-up how simple and good life can be. 

These people use each sit to explore the resistances in their body and mind. They notice how it's nearly impossible to experience "just sitting, just as it is." Instead we have all sorts of plans and ambitions and worries and daydreams... And when these come up, they look at _why?_  Why am I unable to just sit here and breathe and enjoy the pleasure of seclusion? It's so simple, but why can't I do it?

These people know that EVERYONE that has made progress has had to go through these investigations into their own body and mind. They know that the theory is simple, but the practice involves hours looking at their own body, mind, and experiences...

These people notice that there are always positive, negative, and neutral feelings and sensations... but the mind/body quickly reacts with greed, aversion, and indifference. These people learn to distinguish between the positive feeling and sensation and the greed which follows, the negative feeling and sensation and the aversion which follows, and the neutral feelings and sensations and the indifference that follows. As a result they slowly weaken the reactive patterns that keep us trapped in always seeking the next positive sensation, always fearing the next negative sensations, and always getting bored when there are neutral sensations.

These people are then able to sit and LET experiences arise and pass. And they begin to notice how their broader attitudes or "worldviews" have a strong determination on what we experience. They notice that a lot of their philosophies and beliefs are actually very selfish and designed to protect our "self". They notice that thoughts about being independent being that needs to get and hoard all the good experiences in the world --- it reinforces samsara. Thoughts about being an interdependent being who's life depends on good relations with all beings --- it reinforces nirvana. They notice how the four attitudes of friendliness, appreciation, acceptance, and caring are the only attitudes that can serve as a foundation for basic sanity. 

These people might be those people that only practice for one or two hours a day. But these people don't just practice formally for one hour in the evening and one hour in the morning, but turn their entire life into practice. They notice that what they see on-cushion  also occurs off-cushion and they keep noticing greed, aversion, and indifference; noticing worldviews, noticing relationships with other beings...

These people also know that sometimes you just gotta chill out and eat a grilled cheese sandwhich and not worry so much about progress all the time. They go down to the park and watch the skateboarder wipe out. They notice the clouds in the sky. They search for the best green chili breakfast burrito in town... And then they get back on the cushion.

And those people are the ones that make progress.

If you turn your life into practice, you will easily be practicing 5 to 15 hours daily. Things will probably be more difficult living this way, but only because that's what it takes to live a good life.

Hope that helps someone in some way.

Hi Michael, 

Shargrol pretty much said it perfectly, but i've got two cents burning a hole in my pocket and wanted to say that my own standard for years now has been "as much as I can stand." I ritualize my formal sits, and add a second a day to each one when i hit the set time, on the theory that a can stand a few more seconds a day. Likewise, if i can't stand that much, i drop a second for the next sit.

The quantity doesn't matter. The how-much-time thing is like hatha yoga asanas: at any given point, whether you are someone with both legs tucked behind his head, or a guy who can't reach his shoelaces when he bends over, your particular "as much as you can stand" in any given asana can be located very precisely by the pain threshold. The place where you can feel the tension, but not--- quite--- the pain that just a bit more pushing will yield, is the best place to practice FOR YOU. It is objective, a bodily given. No one can tell you exactly what it is. You have to find it every time you do the asana.

And once you learn to find that point of max tension, just before pain, you begin to learn to breathe into the tension. Not psuhing, just holding. The loosening comes on its own, breath by breath, as you simply take the tension as your meditation object in the asana. No one can do this for you either.

So start very honestly and very precisely exactly where you are. 5 hours, today? 5:00:01, tomorrow. Or if you break it up into multiple sits, a second per sit one way or another, and today may be three steps up and four steps back and you start at 4:59:59. Or you nail all seven, because you're a fucking prodigy speed demon arahant wannabe gung ho meditation ace. tomorrow, 5:00:07. You'll be surprised how quickly your start to approach that critical mass that shargrol was talking about, especially if the sits are spread throughout the day in your own particular version of ongoing sesshin.

best of luck, (ha ha, let everyone weigh in now on "luck in Buddhism: bad practice of good Dharma?")
tim
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Brandon Dayton, modified 1 Year ago.

RE: Meditation Duration

Posts: 480 Join Date: 9/24/19 Recent Posts
However I have read here that one really needs between 5 and 15 hours daily sits to make any meaningful progress (at the higher levels?).

Just to be clear, in the link you reference Daniel is talking about 5-15 hours a day to get to the adept level of concentration specifically described by Culadasa in TMI. 

So it is just in reference to concentration (you are asking about insight, which is a different practice) and just in reference to reaching an extremely high skill level. If you want to reach the heights of what is possible with concentration, that's the amount of time you might have to spend, but I don't think it means that anything less will not produce results.

I did half an hour of concentration practice for many years and made progress (albeit slowly). I did two months of hour+ a day practice earlier this year and made much more rapid progress. I did not reach adept levels, but it was still very much worth it.

Bottom line, it takes high doses of practice to get a high skill level with concentration, but even a modest amount of practice will still produce results.

For progress with insight, I think what Shargol and Tim have to say is much more applicable. I personally don't practice more than an hour of formal insight practice everyday.