MEDITATING MORE THAN AN HOUR

In TRAINING by James Corrigan4 Comments

A lot of people ask me about my meditating for more than an hour each day, my target is 108 minutes. My short answer is: all the really interesting stuff happens after the first hour! If you are meditating to develop concentration and mindfulness then even a 30 second pause has important benefits; but if you are meditating to go beyond mindfulness, seeking insights, vipassana, then I recommend sitting for more than an hour because your mind needs time to let go, and then the really interesting things start.
Why do I sit for 108 minutes? I found myself always striving to do 20 minutes, 30 minutes, 45 minutes, 60 minutes, an hour-and-a-half, it suddenly dawned on me that I didn’t have to follow the clock geometry of how we tell time, so I picked 108 minutes as my daily target. It’s the number of beads on a Buddhist mala.

There have been two external changes that came while meditating like this for as long as I have that I’ll mention. One is a remarkable ability to be patient. Very little fazes you, and you have a seemingly limitless equanimity when dealing with difficult situations. This became very evident when I was caring at home for my wife at the end of her battle with breast cancer. The nurses, doctors, and hospital admins overseeing her care were constantly remarking that they had never seen anyone with the ability to gently care for someone in such a loving way and yet never fall into emotional turmoil myself. The head of the home hospice service from the hospital wrote in her report that she had never worked with anyone even close to my “stability” in the face of such a painful experience.

The other change was at first disconcerting, until someone independently remarked to me that if one meditates for sufficiently long periods of time each and every day, they will lose large amounts of memories—unimportant memories—like rain wearing down a mountain. Scientists have recently taken note of this phenomenon, saying that it appears that since meditation brings with it the ability to quiet the mental chatter that normally goes on, during which we constantly replay events in our lives that disturbed or delighted us, and thus strengthen them, many of these memories will slowly fade away. Only important memories remain, while our memory itself functions normally. We just don’t hold onto unimportant information anymore.
You may be wondering why I referred to these two changes as being of an external character when they both seem to be about internal changes that I have experienced. Well, the simple answer to that is all the really interesting things happen after the first hour. You’ll see. And when you do, my calling these external changes will make perfect sense to you!

About the Author

James Corrigan

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James is a writer, philosopher, contemplative practitioner and theorist, living in the Dordogne region of France, where he runs a Bed & Breakfast. He was formerly a software engineer in New York, as well as a university professor of philosophy where he taught Ethics, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Nature, and meditation. Other LEVEKUNST articles by the same author.


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  1. I never meditate for a predetermined time, because I find it hard to fully let go, knowing that there is an alarm going off soon. Or if one is constantly watching the clock to know when to stop the session, that’s even worse. But my sessions tend to be 50-70 mins.

    I have also noticed the change with memory. There’s a pleasure when you can say to someone that you don’t even remember, when they point out some occurrence, which from their perspective, is something that you should’ve taken personally (and thus remember).

    1. Author

      Thank you for adding this, John! It’s a real benefit to not be ruled by such experiences.

      I appreciate having the time to sit for a long time each day. It’s not a race, it’s a blessing, and that in many ways. My use of the number 108, which has many interesting appearances in esoteric and exoteric settings, was my way of breaking free of the clock time that rules our days because it doesn’t fit on any of the usual divisions we split our lives into, and our sits. That’s all it is, but even then, setting a timer serves the useful purpose of breaking me out of the trance state that I fall into, which is not to be confused with anything other than the quiescing of higher-brain functions (there’s a video on my FB page that shows how it looks on an eeg-type device.)

  2. “The other change was at first disconcerting, until someone independently remarked to me that if one meditates for sufficiently long periods of time each and every day, they will lose large amounts of memories—unimportant memories—like rain wearing down a mountain”

    I’m happy to read that – I thought I was losing my marbles!

  3. Vered

    Agree totally. I myself cannot yet sit for108 minutes daily…:). 30 -60 minutes meditatingis fine forme.
    Thanks for sharing.

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