Week 1, Day 7: Looking Back and Ahead
This is the last day of the first week of meditating morning and evening for one hour each sit. I’ve had fairly regular meditation practice since I began in 2007, but the sit length usually ran between 30-45 minutes.
One hour is a commitment. Those 15-30 additional minutes make more of a difference than I knew to anticipate.
One way a full one hour makes an impact is in the depth of inquiry. I wrote about this Day 4. I’ll summarize here. Early in any sit, something usually arises in awareness. A thought about the day, some leftover emotion, an ache or pain. If the sit is short (20-30 minutes), mindful awareness of that something usually comprises the meditation. Extending to 45 minutes, there’s time to explore it further.
What is the content, pace, tone of the thoughts associated with this experience? What emotions arise? Where am I feeling this in my body?
Sitting for a full hour gives time to be aware of the changes in what’s arising. Noticing the space around it. Understanding the experience more fully the longer we spend together. That’s one difference in sitting for an hour twice daily.
Another difference is that longer sits make meditation a commitment. Previously, 30 minutes could be sacrificed to an important email—it was only 30 minutes after all. Or 30 minutes could be reduced to 15 in a pinch, if I’d overslept and the rest of life seemed more pressing, for example. Similarly, 45 minutes could be shortened to 30 or 20, and from there skipped altogether on occasion.
Before, I squeezed meditation time in, bookending my days with it in short, small ways. Now meditation holds a central place, reflective of its importance to me.
Because a full hour is clearly distinct. A block of its own, not to be broken. Short-cutting becomes apparent, and missing it altogether is an obvious choice. An hour in the morning invites me to wake up early so meditation can happen un-impinged upon by the morning’s upcoming events. Waking early requires intention around bedtime the night before.
An hour meditating, morning and evening, has made clear this commitment. The priority being placed on this act of self-care.
In the past several months, I’ve prioritized other passions. Moving them from the sidelines—where they may or may not have received time or effort—to center field. At the same time, I’ve removed non-nutritive activities or reduced the time they receive from me, making room for the true priorities I hold.
What is one passion that can use more of your time and resources?
What is one outdated habit you can exchange, to give its time and energy to your passion?