Length of meditation time

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Length of meditation time

Postby nirmal » Wed Dec 01, 2010 3:11 pm

In the beginning the length of time does not matter. Perhaps 20 minutes will do to help you to break through the pain barrier. Then the time should be lengthened slowly.I had friends who meditated with the greedy desire to reach Buddhahood within a few days.Perhaps they were thinking of the seven-day Great Perfection which is not meant for the neophyte.Then they give up saying that they tried but got nothing.We should practice slowly, increasing the length of time slowly and eventually we may reach even the highest goal

I make it a point to meditate for at least an hour per sitting and sometimes a little more.In the busiest of times I meditate for about twenty minutes. Consistency is very important to achieve success and to make meditation something to look forward to every day. How about you? Please share.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby Chaz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 4:28 pm

nirmal wrote:In the beginning the length of time does not matter. Perhaps 20 minutes will do to help you to break through the pain barrier. Then the time should be lengthened slowly.I had friends who meditated with the greedy desire to reach Buddhahood within a few days.Perhaps they were thinking of the seven-day Great Perfection which is not meant for the neophyte.Then they give up saying that they tried but got nothing.We should practice slowly, increasing the length of time slowly and eventually we may reach even the highest goal

I make it a point to meditate for at least an hour per sitting and sometimes a little more.In the busiest of times I meditate for about twenty minutes. Consistency is very important to achieve success and to make meditation something to look forward to every day. How about you? Please share.



I sit about twenty minutes. This is in addition to open/closing chants, a short Vajrasattva practice and a Chenrezik practice several times a week. So all together, about 45 minutes.

Weekends I sit longer - up to three hours punctuated with walking meditation/stretching every 40 minutes or so.

Pain? If start to experience pain or my legs start falling asleep, I change position. If the pain persists I consult my doctor. At my age to try and practice through the pain is about as dumb as the day is long. I see no benefit or merit in self-abuse.

I never sit in full lotus. I don't possess the inclination and don't have the time to train my lower body to do that. It's not necessary to sit that way and why bother with things that aren't necessary?

I have two different cushions, a bench and this really cool, old footstool to sit on at varying times for varying reasons. I use a 4" memory foam mat for a zabuton. In intensive situations like retreat I'll use a chair as as my lower back and hips start to give out after 3-4 days.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby nirmal » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:19 pm

Hi Chaz,

I too do not sit in the full lotus position as it's just too painful for me. I sit in the semi lotus position which allows me to have a peace of mind which is vital for meditation. I have made my own seat which I believe helps me to sit upright without experiencing any pain.It could be this self designed seat that could be helping me in my meditation.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby Chaz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:42 pm

nirmal wrote:Hi Chaz,

I too do not sit in the full lotus position as it's just too painful for me. I sit in the semi lotus position which allows me to have a peace of mind which is vital for meditation. I have made my own seat which I believe helps me to sit upright without experiencing any pain.It could be this self designed seat that could be helping me in my meditation.



SWEET!

I've thought about a cushion like that, but noone I know makes one.

Made that yourself? Instructions?

It's been my experience that an inclined surface is generally more comfortable and free of discomfort that the traditional Zabuton-flat-on-the-floor system we usually use.
Somebody over on FreeSangha uses a board that is inclined using a 2x4 and no zafu or gomden. That, too sound like a real winner.

Using that cushion, how long does it take before your legs start going numb if at all?
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby nirmal » Wed Dec 01, 2010 6:12 pm

Yes, I made it out of plywood and a few pieces of wood.I took another photo to show you the bottom side of the seat and it would give you a fairly good idea of how it's done.The maximum height is 6 inches inclining down to 4 inches and the flat area is 2 inches in height.You could vary the height for your comfort.There is a half an inch thick rubber mat on the seat and it is finally wrapped up neatly.I usually put a woolen piece of cloth on it before I sit.Hope this helps.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby nirmal » Wed Dec 01, 2010 7:16 pm

Using that cushion, how long does it take before your legs start going numb if at all?

I forgot about this part.
I chant for about 20 minutes. Then I stretch out my legs while still sitting on my seat.This makes meditation more comfortable.Then I meditate for about 45 minutes to well over an hour.When I get up I feel a slight numbness in my legs at times only.All this differs from person to person perhaps but the seat is a great help.You must also remember that I have been meditating for 18 years and can sit up to two and a half hours.

Then again, we all have this problem at the beginning or even after a few years.It is the pain barrier that we have to break through.I went through hell too in the beginning. You see, our darker side will always keep telling us to get up, not to waste time sitting there like a fool or even to better leave the seat and go out for a beer with our friends. We have to defeat this bad seed within us which will always haunt our minds to make us fail and give up. Fight and defeat it brother.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby spiritnoname » Wed Dec 01, 2010 9:53 pm

The amount of time really doesn't matter, even little kids with the most basic instructions can sit in excess of 9 hours easy.

Yeah,.. waiting until you break the pain barrier is important I think.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby Chaz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:06 pm

spiritnoname wrote:The amount of time really doesn't matter, even little kids with the most basic instructions can sit in excess of 9 hours easy.


9 hours? No way.

Yeah,.. waiting until you break the pain barrier is important I think.


yes, and waiting to get past this so-called pain barrier could land you firmly in the lap of your friendly neighborhood chiropractor or MD.

This isn't professional football. We don't have to "play with the pain".
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby Chaz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:09 pm

Nirmal, that sitting platform(?) is totally kick-butt. Great Idea and nicely done!

One thing I've figured out lately is that my legs fall asleep dependant on how much pressure I have on my lower legs while sitting. If I over-use my lower legs/ankle to provide balance, I can last about 20 minutes before having to shift position to get the circulation back. This, of course, was using a gomden or zafu on a level platform.

Not far from my old office there was a patch of slopped lawn with maybe a 1" drop per foot. I found I could sit there without any sort of cushion for far longer that the "usual" way - like an hour or more. I've thought about trying a platform like that fellow on Free Sangha uses which is sorta close to your platform. Get a 24 x 30 inch platform and work with the height in the back - raising and lowering the angle with shims until I find a "sweet spot".

I'm not looking to set any records for how long I can sit, but it would be nice if I could manage more than 1/2 hour without moving. Two hours would be great. Every meditation teacher I've ever worked with discourages periods of sitting meditation longer that 2 hrs, so if I could get to 2 hours that would be HUGE.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby spiritnoname » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:41 pm

This isn't really unusual,.. with just a little instruction and example, little kids easily out sit adults.

You should never presume the meditation or spiritual power of people because of age, Buddha Shakyamuni actually mentioned this in a talk on 4 little things to be cautious of. Little monks, little princes, little fires and little defilements.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Wed Dec 01, 2010 10:48 pm

Nirmal, that's awesome! My regular old gomden got me through a lot of long sits but yours looks fantastic :)

Best,
Laura
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby Karma Dondrup Tashi » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:03 pm

I can't rival nirmal but if you want to sit cross legged for a long while - but have a bad back like me - this works.

http://www.nadachair.com/
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby Chaz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:18 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:I can't rival nirmal but if you want to sit cross legged for a long while - but have a bad back like me - this works.

http://www.nadachair.com/



Those are great.

My wife uses one for long periods of work at her desk.

The Director of Practice at Nalandabodhi Boulder uses one, too.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby Chaz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:26 pm

Something else happens to me. On extended practice intensives, as in retreat, I find that after a few days my hips start giving out, especially when I'm using my Zafu.

A nun on retreat with me at Vajra Vidya recommend using a bolster under my upper legs to relieve the pressure on my hips. I found that works really well.

I also found that havng a hot spring spa new the retreat center made for an excellent post-retreat experience as well as excellent joint/back pain therapy. So, when you go on retreat for anything over three days make sure there's a hot spring and road home. You will not be sorry.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby Chaz » Wed Dec 01, 2010 11:27 pm

Question to all:

anyone use a japanese style tatami mat?
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby spiritnoname » Thu Dec 02, 2010 1:55 am

Yes, I use japanese tatami mat, I have them all throughout my house because they are inexpensive, good for hay fever, and easy to clean,.. :roll:

No,.. but non sarcastically,.. it's sort of a traditionally ideal to use a mat of kusha grass. I sleep on the floor and every day I fold up my blankets and put them away, it's very easy to use a blanket partially folded as the floor covering, then I use two bricks with another folded blanket over it as the meditation seat.

Obviously this wouldn't work for some accumulations where the seat is not to be moved until the accumulation is done,.. but it works for my general purposes.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby nirmal » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:16 pm

Nirmal, that sitting platform(?) is totally kick-butt. Great Idea and nicely done!
Chaz said
"One thing I've figured out lately is that my legs fall asleep dependant on how much pressure I have on my lower legs while sitting. If I over-use my lower legs/ankle to provide balance, I can last about 20 minutes before having to shift position to get the circulation back. This, of course, was using a gomden or zafu on a level platform.

Not far from my old office there was a patch of slopped lawn with maybe a 1" drop per foot. I found I could sit there without any sort of cushion for far longer that the "usual" way - like an hour or more. I've thought about trying a platform like that fellow on Free Sangha uses which is sorta close to your platform. Get a 24 x 30 inch platform and work with the height in the back - raising and lowering the angle with shims until I find a "sweet spot".

I'm not looking to set any records for how long I can sit, but it would be nice if I could manage more than 1/2 hour without moving. Two hours would be great. Every meditation teacher I've ever worked with discourages periods of sitting meditation longer that 2 hrs, so if I could get to 2 hours that would be HUGE."


When the legs fall asleep making meditation difficult, just place your palms on your seat and lift your body up a little.This will regulate the flow of blood to your legs and reduce the pain in your back.However don't lose your concentration when doing this

And yes , find that sweet spot when making your seat.When meditating on the patch of slopped lawn or any open area, we should visualize our protectors standing around us first before starting our meditation.It's like having policemen around us.Protectors are very very vital for progress in meditation.I always start meditatation by inviting protectors to stand in the four corners of my room. Though they are on my altar, they will never guard or protect me when I meditate.This is their nature my friend.We have to invite them or visualize them coming down from the altar to protect us.Then, feel the magic of meditation.

Start from the bottom, step by step and your two hour sitting will be there one day.When the other worlds open up to you, you will never want to miss a day of meditation.Build it up slowly by making your seat comfortable for you first.I have already started feeling happy for you.May you get enlightened before me.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby nirmal » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:26 pm

Ngawang Drolma wrote:Nirmal, that's awesome! My regular old gomden got me through a lot of long sits but yours looks fantastic :)

Best,
Laura



Thanks Laura.Just made it for my comfort.I just couldn't meditate without being comfortable.It really helps to keep my back straight without much effort.
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby Ngawang Drolma » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:39 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:I can't rival nirmal but if you want to sit cross legged for a long while - but have a bad back like me - this works.

http://www.nadachair.com/


I'll try it- I have a lot of back troubles.

Thanks :)

Best,
Laura
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Re: Length of meditation time

Postby nirmal » Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:56 pm

Karma Dondrup Tashi wrote:I can't rival nirmal but if you want to sit cross legged for a long while - but have a bad back like me - this works.

http://www.nadachair.com/



Nadachair is a good option for our friends with back problems.Basically we share and learn from one another and this positive attitude could take us very far bringing a deeper meaning to what Buddhism is really about.

Nada chair is your suggestion,
Like an amour for a soldier in position,
All merits grown, no demons hot,
It's diligence that makes the path short.
nirmal.
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