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I tend to write down when I meditate, and also note the length of the sessions. Observing my notes, I had the impression that when I sat for longer times (40m - 1h), I also was paradoxically more consistent.

Is such a thing ever mentioned in Buddhism? Usually, in habit formation psychology, it is the easiest habits that develop the most. Could lengthening meditation sessions also establish greater consistency?

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  • If you have already established a robust meditation practice, it would be far more advantageous for you to bring those meditative qualities into everyday living, rather than look to increase your time sat on a useless zafu cushion. Entertaining the longevity of meditation sessions are egocentric motivations - in other words: it's easier to not want to face the reality of the world and instead choose to firmly root yourself within the identity of a practicing Buddhist.
    – Max
    Jul 5 at 11:34
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In the suttas, the night is broken up into three watches that can be devoted to practice. For example:

AN8.20:1.4: “Sir, the night is getting late. It is the first watch of the night, and the Saṅgha has been sitting long.
AN8.20:1.5: Please, sir, may the Buddha recite the monastic code to the mendicants.”

From the above, one may infer that a watch is quite some time and that monks consistently meditated extensively. But it's not a Spartan marathon where one drops dead after gasping out the news of a victory. Indeed, in DN34, we have:

DN34:1.2.5: What one thing should be developed?
DN34:1.2.6: Mindfulness of the body that is full of pleasure.

So the monks meditated consistently and happily throughout the night, taking good breaks now and then. Personally, I tend to nod off at night, and therefore choose an earlier time to meditate mindfully.

AN7.61:2.1: “Are you nodding off, Moggallāna? Are you nodding off?”
AN7.61:2.2: “Yes, sir.”
AN7.61:2.3: “So, Moggallāna, don’t focus on or cultivate the perception that you were meditating on when you fell drowsy.

Meditating consistently at the proper time tends to favor longer meditations. If we are pressed for time, that can be difficult.

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Immediately the longer sitting is more difficult. Sitting for a second is generally easier than sitting for two.

However if one trains then one will enjoy sitting longer and his longer sittings will be easier than the earlier short sittings but is really not a fair comparison because the longer were sat up by the shorter.

If one master's meditation then the longer sitting is definitely easier and is infinitely more pleasant in the circumstance when one enters & remains in manifold attainments for up to 7 days & 7 nights percipient of pleasure.

Eventually dwelling in the world as not percepient of the world becomes the inclination of the mind and a person might at that point emerge only due to necessity as there is no passion associated with the perceptions of ideas, sounds, colors & etc.

That person will be equanimous upon emerging, pleasing to good people as his good qualities because those have been perfected in course of the attainment to those peaceful liberations.

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Can long sits be easier than short sits?

Sometimes yes, and other times no.

It's more about quality of mind than quantity. If you sit for 1 hour but are only mindful 10% of the time it's better to have a shorter and more "productive" session and do many of them daily.

Quality of mind is always above everything else. The time one is not mindful the defilements can really get their hooks in.

Also, very importantly, we're not trying to make the practice easier. It is what it is. If one sits in meditation and thinks the practice is difficult then that mindstate should be noted with mindfulness. If aversion towards the practice arises then that mindstate should be noted - and so forth.

In short; it's about quality over quantity and it's about being mindful of the present moment, i.e. what has arisen at this very moment. That is the practice and you don't have to sit on a cushion to do that - bring it into daily life. That's where the practice really lies (and the key to consistent practice).

Hope this helps.

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