Ok, so we have the two kinds of people: The ones who propagate meditation and the ones who hate it.
The problem is that all Meditators convey is “do it”, which does not explain at all why we should sit around and ‘wait’ for the end.
To a real down to earth person meditation must justified seem like a total stupid waste of time without any hard graspable effects.
First of all, Meditation is not a mere waiting in the sense of sitting out the moment in order to ‘kill’ time.
(If it would be possible to kill time, we wouldn’t get bored, would we?)
Meditation is the process of putting a temporal fence around your monkey-mind or a round pen around your internal wild horse to calm it down.
Many try to force their horse to sit still within that fence, but that makes meditation a killer.
My first meditation teacher was such a guy and I ended dropping it altogether.
Then a much more wise and gentle vietnamese Buddhist monk told me:
“Simply let your mind run out, until it is exhausted and calms down itself”.
By not putting oil into the flames of your constant flood of new ideas.
For example, if you are sitting in meditation and think: “I have to go shopping afterwards”, then pit that thought into your own virtual patient waiting room and simply say: I deal with it later – “next please!”.
I can give you an example how this doesn’t work, and then you know what not to do:
If you want to quiet your mind and I tell you “don’t think of a pink elephant!”, what does come into your mind? Of course a pink elephant. So don’t fight against specific issues, but let everything fade out naturally.
This, btw, is also the best way to deal with malevolent trolls: Don’t fight against them but as they say: “Don’t feed the trolls!”, (especially not the worst ones, which are the ones within your own mind.)
There is a huge resistance in you not wanting to face the moment and that tricks you into solving worldly important issues, such as “if I have to go shopping later, what will my shopping list be?”. This is how you put oil into the flame
A nice way is to remember your self-worth:
That you are just having a few “Me-only”-minutes and shouldn’t spoil them with your shopping list.
Remember: What is more important, the divine you or the shopping?
The shopping should serve you, and not you the shopping list.
Most people don’t treat themselves with the dignity they deserve, but do it for their lover. So simply remember: Would you treat someone you deeply love and only see for 15 minutes before flying of for the rest of the day with non-attention? And would you like to be treated this way? So give to your divine self what it deserves!
As a rule of thumb for the length: Consider when you first learned and practiced meditation. From that day on add a virtual second to each next day, meaning after a year you should be able to meditate 6 minutes, after two years 12 minutes and after a decade it could be possible for you to meditate for an entire hour (but you don’t have to – rather do 15 minutes than none).It is btw more effective to do every day 10 minutes than once a week 70 minutes, because your mind does not have to rest as your body does but needs daily vitamins of your medi.
(Of course you will have breaks in between, but this is a guidline, which time-length to get back to, once you stopped it for a while.)
But then there still is the dreadful time-length :-o
This is a bummer, because there is only so much patience, before your inner monkey gains consciousness again and starts rebelling.
Ways to train your animal-mind to become patient, is to feed it intermittently with little rewards by honouring its limits.
One reward is to know how much you did accomplish yet, so you can set yourself two timers: one for your fiery monkey, and one for your goal.
Let’s say you have 5 minutes patience but want to train yourself up to 20 minutes, so what you do is to set yourself a timer for 20 minutes and one for 5 minutes. And then start them both simultaneously at the begin of your mediation.
After 5 minutes the first alarm goes of and you may end your meditation then. And if you had a good day and were surprised about time flying by, then, sit a little bit longer, and as soon as you get impatient, quit and look at your second 20 minute timer to remember how many minutes you did manage to meditate altogether.
If you found it easy 3 times in a row to do 5 minutes, then increase that timer to 6 minutes and see how things go from there. You get the picture.
If you ask about what kind of meditation is best for you,The most important step in the beginning is only to put a foot into the door of spirituality.
simply choose the one you feel drawn to
(whether it is because it is fun or because you respect it most).
Over the years your approach will change automatically.
Another question is:
Am I allowed to look at the timer to see how much suffering I still have ahead of myself?
My recommendation is: Put that timer out of sight (like turning it around), because if it is in front of your eyes, as soon as you open them, you inevitably will have seen the remaining time, which you probably did not intent to.
Then when you really want to know the time, first estimate how many minutes you did sit already, or how many you estimate to be left.
This might take a while in itself but is a great exercise for your temporal intuition. Always estimate the time before looking at the clock, because this way you create your reality, else you get the feeling of leaving it up to fate.
Initially you want to check often how much time passed,
but there comes a time when you want to see it only as late as possible,
because you learned, that if you looked to early, you only got frustrated about having so much time left to meditate.
Another aspect is denial of this moment:
It is amazing how many ways we come up with to suddenly make our minds busy – from calculating things, over worrying up to excited plans of the future. But ultimately you will realise that all those issues are prosponable and actually best to be solved straight after meditation, because you did prepare your mind to focus.
So enjoy the time afterwards and simply hang around – it is usually the best time in which you get the most ideas and insights. And don’t let any non-meditator force you straight into immediate action, because you deserve your contemplation-time – just consider it to be a (most pleasant) part (and reward) of meditation.