I used to meditate an hour or more a day. Then for long stretches of time I stopped meditating at all. If I couldn’t really have an expanse of time, what was the use of meditating for ten minutes?
Stopping can be viewed many ways, a biochemical defect, a bad habit of quitting that got triggered in childhood. For me, stopping was always hard, stopping reading a good book, stopping in the middle of writing once I’d gotten over the incredible hump of starting, stopping some project. But really, it wasn’t the stopping that was hard, it was the starting. So stopping meditation was really more the result of not finding conditions suitable enough for starting.
But in the last few years, I’ve shifted, eased up on the whole notion of perfection. A good five or ten minutes is way better than no minutes at all. Same with writing or making art. I have a new relationship to meditation and taken it out of its mystical hiding place and holy aura. I give it importance, though perhaps no more so than making a cup of tea, which is a contemplative way to start the day. I know this may sound terribly mundane and not spiritual at all.
So now I sit, breathe deeply and meditate, moved by the pure desire just to do so. More often than not, my inner timer knows when to stop. I feel refreshed and get up. Meditation still frames my day. Knowing when to stop is a learned habit and it takes practice. Transcend time’s tyranny and try this:
Find a moment in the day that feels suitable for sitting in meditation without interruption. It doesn’t have to be to get over something (fatigue, dread, stress) or go somewhere else (anywhere but here). Allow your inner clock to start and stop your practice. How does it feel? How much time feels right? Apply this principle to another activity not rigidly bound by time, like writing, running, or making music. Do not apply it to a job interview, catching a train or theatre performance.