“With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
Several people asked me last week how long a person should sit and breathe when they’re just starting out. My answer to this is as long as you can stand it. In all honesty, most people start out with as little as 5 minutes of meditation at a time. The amount of time someone spends in quiet contemplation is often a factor of convenience, comfort, and desire. I typically sit for at least 15 minutes at a time. When I attend service at the Atlanta Soto Zen Center, we meditate for three 25 minute sessions with short 5 minute breaks in between. In my opinion, the thing that really matters is consistency. I often compare my meditation practice to my habit of brushing my teeth. When I don’t brush my teeth, I certainly know it and I’m pretty sure that those around me can tell as well. Sitting is like brushing my mind. When I haven’t sat I find that I’m more easily upset and frustrated. Meditation allows me to ground myself before venturing out into the world. So the next time you think your day is going to be tough, start it out by spending some time being quiet.