Take a Seat

Last week, my teacher asked, How much meditation is ENOUGH?

I've this quote floating around on Pinterest that says you should meditate 20 minutes a day--unless you're too busy; then you should meditate for an hour. I remember when I learned that asana was a preparation for the seated practice. I was stunned: it was like a wall had fallen down in front of me that revealed a new city, or a mountain. It seemed to make more sense, all this moving and contorting that was my physical practice. I'm pretty sure I didn't learn it in a class, but instead read it in a book. Light on Yoga? The Heart of Yoga? I don't remember now, but I remember feeling like it was a big deal, like that one nugget of information was transformative.

I think the reason it felt so important was because it took yoga out of the exclusively physical context it'd been in and created a space where it had more meaning. It created an opportunity for me to explore some of the questions and feelings I'd been having in a way that went beyond strength, blood flow, contraction and extension.

I suppose the answer to his question, how much meditation is enough is: enough to see the difference in your life. If ten minutes a day doesn't keep you fro cursing at the bad drivers on the road, maybe you need to bump it up a bit. If you lie down at night and your mental voice can't get quiet, maybe you have to cultivate a little more quiet.

I myself get stuck around the 11-minute mark, somewhere between 11-13-minute range. I can't quite make it over the hurdle to that nice, tidy quarter-hour mark. It takes lots of tools for me to help in my seated practice, too. Without a nyasa, a specific place to rest my awareness, I'm toast.

Most days I use mantra. You know, writer-language-lover: it stands to reason mantra is my hook. Some days I need a visualization technique I can listen to or guide myself through. I try to hold one minute in every seated practice for silent awareness. 

It's the longest minute I've ever experienced. Every day.

My physical practice feels like it yields dividends (as icky as that makes me feel to even say it.) I sleep well, my digestion is regular, I can bend over to tie and untie my shoes without heaving a great sigh. I can carry groceries up three flights of stairs without having to stop to rest.

Still, that might be the easy stuff. I'm still pretty judgmental, and though I've gotten better at waiting for some things, I'm still pretty impatient. If my seated practice were really working, wouldn't I be one of those yogis who's never bothered by the struggle of life? Wouldn't I tolerate waiting or struggling with more detachment and equanimity?

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Maybe, like Lucy van Pelt says to Charlie Brown, the mere fact that I realize that I have a problem indicates that I am not too far gone. 

So clearly, 11 minutes is not enough to help me become a more compassionate, less reactive human being. I gotta go. If you need me, I'll be sitting.