I believe one of the greatest challenges in establishing a fulfilling meditation practice is related to what appears to be the simplest ingredient. Time: finding the time or making the time to meditate. Let’s face it, in 21st century life there is a scarcity of time. Without having to state the obvious I think we are all familiar with just how many demands are made on the time we have available. A meditation practice itself is another one of those demands that requires dedicated time for it to be rewarding.
What I have found from my own meditation practice is that meditation teaches me to meditate. That is, like any skill, you develop that skill by practicing it. For example, how can you learn to drive a car without actually driving? Hence, if I don’t make the time to meditate I won’t be able to learn how to meditate.
For me, another factor that is essential in regard to making time for meditation is to look at how much I value the practice. When trying to fit meditation into my schedule, I have had to ask myself questions like; is it as valuable as reading fiction, watching TV, browsing the internet or interacting with social media, etc? If my answer is yes—which it is—then it’s not such a big deal for me to cut back on these activities and allow more time for meditation.
Now what’s the best time to meditate? I don’t think there’s a definitive answer to this question; it’s more about what suits you personally. So it’s good to do a little experimentation in this area in order to find what time of day works best for you. I love early morning for meditation—I have friends who prefer to meditate just before they go to bed, or around sunset. However what I have found to be very beneficial is to meditate close to the same time of day every time I sit for mediation. By doing this I kind of program my body and mind to be ready to meditate at that time, and when that time of day comes around I feel almost compelled to meditate.
The question that naturally follows is how long should I meditate for? If we get locked into the idea that we have to meditate for a specific length of time for it to be effective, and then find we don’t have that amount of time, then we are likely to just pass on it. I find that it’s more important for me to meditate on a regular basis, even if the session is relatively short, rather than meditating for an hour or two once a week or fortnight. A session of meditation can be as brief as ten, fifteen or twenty minutes—I find when I meditate every day, even for these short periods of time, the benefits of meditation keep increasing and my experience gets deeper and stronger. I do very much enjoy meditating for longer periods, however if I don’t have the time to do this, a shorter time will suffice.
Hmmm, all this talk on meditation...Time to meditate.