In TRAINING by James Corrigan
12/15/20152 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!
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