For a beginner, increasing the duration of meditation is a challenge. Does the amount of time really matter? It does.
Depending on your experience and condition, it takes about 15-45 minutes for the physical sensation to settle and the mental wave to calm down toward evenness. The range varies widely from person to person. In a 60 minute-long meditation, the middle or last 15 minutes is the most important part. So your goal down the road is to be able to complete a 60-minute meditation.
To increase the duration of meditation, first, set a realistic time goal; second, build your stamina through practice; third, develop a sense of being. Predetermining the time limit is especially helpful for beginners. As your stamina grows, you will naturally be more comfortable with sitting and being.
Adapt gradually. You can build up your capacity slowly, steadily, and patiently. This principle always works. When you allow your body and mind to adjust to changes, they do. Trust yourself. If you get impatient and break this principle, you can still return to where you were and start over. That’s all right.
Two Types of Meditation
There are two types of meditation: spontaneous and ritual-like.
Spontaneous meditation simply means to sit or lie back and meditate without formality. You can do it for any length of time. You can do it literally anywhere: on a bus, waiting in line, walking in the park, or even in bed before sleep. What you need to do is to focus your mind on a single thought that is emotionally neutral but holds your attention. By doing so, you contain your mind in the present moment in a non-judgmental fashion.
For the ritual-like meditation, you can create a format you would like to explore and follow those steps. Here are 4 examples of ritual-like meditation.
Combine short-long-short sessions. If you have 10 minutes available, begin with a short 1-minute sitting meditation, then a 3-minute sitting meditation with music (or chanting) followed by 5-minute prone meditation. End with a 1-minute sitting meditation.
Alternate meditation types. If you have 15 minutes available, do a 3-minute sitting meditation, a 2-minute prone meditation, a 7-minute walking meditation, and end with a 3-minute sitting meditation. Or, alternate an easy week and a hard week: for example, in the first and third weeks of the month do multiple short meditations and in the second and the fourth try 1 or 2 long sessions to enhance your endurance.
Practice moving meditation. Sports and meditation have similarities in producing a flow experience in which the mind and body merge into one through the activity. Go out and play any sport or hobby you enjoy and totally immerse yourself.
Meditation Challenge. When you are ready, host your personal meditation challenge: Design a 60-minute meditation such as 5 minutes of sitting, 10 minutes of walking, 15 minutes of sitting, 5 minutes of walking, 5 minutes of music (or chanting), and 20 minutes of sitting meditation. This takes you close to your goal of 60-minute meditation.
Finally, when you feel ready, explore a complete 60-minute sitting meditation. Use every skill you have learned. Sink deep down in your body and be, watching what occurs in your mind.
If you don’t complete the 60-minute goal, take a break, and try again another day.
Every minute you put in your meditation effort counts, like currency saved in your “meditation bank.”