HMC Day 9: Stick to your timer

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Even seasoned meditators sometimes think, “Am I almost done?”

It’s normal to wonder about how quickly time is passing, and experience the urge to check your watch — especially if you’re having trouble settling down during your meditation, or you’re encountering difficult emotions like boredom, sadness or anger.

I’m here to encourage you to refrain from checking the clock, and DEFINITELY refrain from quitting early.

In some ways, the idea of “stick to your timer” is an extension of yesterday’s post about the pause (click here if you missed it) It’s always useful in meditation to notice urges and choose to wait them out rather than act impulsively on them. Why? Because our true power lies in the space between the urge to do something and the corresponding action. We always have a choice. Meditation teaches us to notice this space more, to have more awareness of the distinction between thought and behavior.

Checking the clock or ending early are both urges that run counter to what you set out to do when you sat down to meditate and chose a duration. Don’t engage in a bunch of self-analysis during the meditation itself. Instead, redirect your attention to whatever you set out to focus on at the start of your session. Afterward, you might reflect on the desire you had to escape meditation, particularly if this urge constitutes a pattern for you.

Assignment:

Set a timer for twice as long as your average meditation time over the last week — for most of you this will be somewhere between 10-16 minutes. This uptick in duration will likely prompt some restlessness during your session. When you notice the desire to see how much time is left, label the thought (“I want to stop” or “I’m thinking about when I’ll be done”) and then redirect your focus to the narration, your breath, your mantra or whatever your focus is today. Journal for 5 minutes after your session is done — on a scrap of paper or in a note on your phone, whatever’s easiest. What emotions go along with thoughts of wanting to stop meditating? In what other circumstances/situations in your life do you notice an urgency to stop what you’re doing ahead of schedule?

**If you missed the introductory post, welcome to the Holiday Meditation Challenge! To receive a summary of each week’s assignments in e-mail form so you can go back to them anytime, click here.