Many people know the benefits of meditation today as it is widely studied by science. Meditation is in the news, movies, TV and even music. People with all kinds of views, backgrounds and even religions know about and or practice meditation today.
This is nice, but why don't we see any lasting effects on the world? Like more compassion or even a little more patience? It seems we are even less impatient than ever. With smartphones and the internet and tablet computers as fast as ever and getting faster everyday, how could we be a more patient society? It is no surprise that though many more people are trying meditation, but most people try it for a while and quit, or simply don't keep up with a daily routine because they are 'too busy'.
Why are we so impatient? About 20 years ago there was only one way to research a topic for an essay, only one way to tell yourself about a subject that fancied your imagination; hours and hours of rummaging through books, encyclopedia's and dictionaries. Of course people were a little less impatient, simply because things generally took longer to do overall. In this post internet age we can find any information we need, or about 3,320,000,000 related results, within about 0.19 seconds.
The automobile and the airplane also changed the way we perceive time. For example; during the Buddha's time, travel for most people was by foot. It took a few days to get to the next town. Now we can travel across the world in less than a day. It's no surprise we get a conniption if we get stuck in traffic for ten or fifteen minutes. No wonder we are more impatient than ever.
Patience is a virtue. In fact, studies have shown that it takes about 10,000 hours for a person to master any subject. It takes much patience to persist practicing the same subject for 10,000 hours. Anyone can 'start' learning something, but it takes a special someone to master it. What usually happens in most cases, is that we pick up this or that hobby, make a few advances and then get stuck at this grinding point. It is at this grinding point where most people quit.
We all feel great after we first start meditating 5 minutes at a time. You feel so relaxed, and peaceful. You just want to do it again and again, but to get really peaceful and to get the various benefits that meditation has to offer, we need to expand that time. Once we get past a certain stretch of time (10 minutes for some, 1 hour for others) we reach the grinding point, where it is no fun at all to meditate. We sit with our eyebrows folded, our lips all pursed and our shoulders hunched. We try so hard to advance, we make our lives more miserable than before. We are impatient to become a meditation master who can sit for 13 days straight.
Mastering a skill takes at least 10,000 hours as I stated earlier. Which means that to become a novice you need at least a third of that time right? That's somewhere around 3,400 hours. That's no walk in the park, and expecting ability to come within a week or even a year of learning how to do something is quite ridiculous.
The answer to all that ails our impatient souls, I believe, is micro-meditation. We need to shift the focus of our practice to the shortest practical time frame possible.
- Set your mind to meditation
- Think of a goal you can meet within a very short time frame
- Tell yourself you will reach this goal without fail (such as, to meditate for 2 minutes or 10 breaths)
- Once you reach your goal bask for a moment in your accomplishment
- If time permits, immediately start your micro-meditation again from step 1
This is the trick to micro-meditation. You can get that instant gratification, whilst still grinding out those 10,000 hours. If you do it correctly, it is unlikely you will get upset or bored with your meditation. The fact is we crave gratification, so why not give it to yourself? And since you are not expecting unrealistic goals, you will actually meditate more often. 10 two-minute sessions equals 20 minutes. If you never could meditate for 20 minutes before it's because of your own mental block. Your wish for that instant gratification. Don't fight it, feed it, and watch it catapult you to the mastery you deserve. However, I have to sum up what the Buddha once said, try it and see for yourself. If it works for you, great, keep at it. If it doesn't work for you, move on to a better method more suited to your likes.