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In psychology, a habit is defined as a behaviour done automatically, requiring little conscious effort. I have meditated recently pretty much every second day, but I fail to see any automaticity; its incredibly effortful to sit and meditate for me still.

Does Buddhism have anything to say about forming such habits? Is there any knowledge -- whether in the scriptures or from personal experience -- suggesting the ideal frequency of meditation (to form a habit)? Here, I mean the frequency which would enable consistent and automatic sitting and meditation.

Also, does consistency relative to the hour of the day of meditation matter at all?

Any information is welcome, thank you.

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IMO, yes, it does. :) Many meditation programs and retreats are organized around this principle. It takes the average person somewhere between 20 and 30 days to form a solid habit. The more often and more regular the repetition, the more solid the habit. It is the same with sports, gym, eating, etc. The more you practice meditation, the more of an automatic habit it will become.

Just like with working out, set a specific time every day to meditate. Set a progressively longer series of sit times, so you start out light and work your way up to an hour at a time. You can also try maintaining mindfulness throughout the day, retreading the neural pathways as often as you can, even if just one minute each hour. Once mindfulness and samadhi become habitual, you are on your way.

And remember, it's only heavy if you pick it up. It's only hard if you don't want to be there. Observe your mind when you feel it hard to sit. Why is that? Are you craving snacks, sleep, or entertainment? Exhausted by pain or striving? Remember at those times why you are meditating, and remember to relax and take it easy. Make it fun and rewarding. Make it a game, how many breaths can you observe without mental interruption? Set a high score board of Stillness if it helps. ;)

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Does Buddhism have anything to say about forming such habits? Is there any knowledge -- whether in the scriptures or from personal experience -- suggesting the ideal frequency of meditation (to form a habit)?

I realize you are asking about forming habits, but sometimes the road to effortless habits goes through eliminating hindrances. If we're talking satipatthana, a big deal is actually investigating hindrances to overcome these obstacles, as it is also conducive towards further cultivation of your meditation regime.

Generally speaking (vitarka), the five hindrances are:

  1. Sensual Desire
  2. Ill-will
  3. Sloth and Torpor
  4. Restlessness and Remorse
  5. Doubt

Insights regarding hindrances are most likely not only beneficial for your meditation practice, but can likely be generalized to life as a whole.

More reading, and not least suggested antidotes to the hindrances:

https://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/nyanaponika/wheel026.html

Also, does consistency relative to the hour of the day of meditation matter at all?

You may benefit from looking at prolonging the time for meditation rather than increase the frequency or timing during the day. It will expose you to important observations for deepening dhyana.

I'd argue that the more overall time spent in dhyana the better.

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Start with one second. Do it every day for a week. Move up to 15 seconds. Do it everyday for a week. Keep adding 15 seconds until you hit two minutes, then start adding thirty seconds. Keep adding thirty seconds until you hit a half an hour. What you do after you hit 30 minutes is up to you. There are only two things you need to do - sit everyday and don't exceed the amount of time that you are supposed to sit. If a sit goes well, end it, and let those positive feelings kindle your desire to sit again the following day.

The only other recommendation I would make would be to find a group to sit with.. Having people to whom you are accountable makes it much easier to maintain a practice. If you do join a group, it's perfectly OK to sit more than your allocated time for the day. There is no magic formula to establish a habit. Right effort is karmimcally recursive - like a spiritual, centripetal engine. The initial excursion is hard, but once established, the amount of effort required to keep things going is greatly reduced.

But you first have to try.

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Firstly, you do not specify in your question how long you have been doing "every other day" meditation or how long your sessions are. Meditating for 5 min ever other day will NEVER develop "automaticity" nor can one expect that meditating for 90 min every other day will develop automaticity in a matter of weeks(if ever). Also of note- the momentum generated by SUSTAINED "informal" mindfulness/meditation during daily activities plays a big role in developing automaticity. In my experience, some genuine pervasive automaticity can be experienced by a couple months of daily sits of approx 1 hr, followed by a retreat of a week or so which has you primarily in sitting and walking meditation for 5+ hrs per day.

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