Sitting for hours in meditation is not necessary

Ajahn Chah

I’ve been enjoying the book “Voices of Insight” this week. The book is subtitled: “Teachers in the West Share Their Wisdom, Stories, and Experiences of Insight Meditation.”  Because my entry into the dharma was through insight meditation, it’s a book I treasure and return to often.

Since I’ve read the book. I’ve been jumping around, and this week, I’ve was especially struck by the chapter “Natural Freedom of the Heart: The Teachings of Ajahn Chah” by Jack Kornfield. Earlier today, I quoted a great passage from the chapter in this post:

“Can’t You Theravadans Ever Just Relax and Just Be?

Here’s another passage I found both helpful and moving. It highlights the humor, wisdom, and depth of this great Thai Forest teacher:

“Sitting for hours on end is not necessary. Some people think that the longer you sit, the wiser you must be. I’ve seen chickens sitting on their nests for days on end. Wisdom comes from being mindful in all postures. Your practice should begin as you awaken in the morning, and it should continue until you fall asleep. What’s important is only that you keep attentive, whether you are working or sitting or going to the bathroom.

Each person has their own natural pace. Some of your will die at age fifty, some at age sity, and some at age ninety—so, too, your practice will be different. Don’t think or worry about this. Try to be mindful and let things take their natural course.

Then your mind will become quieter and quieter in any surroundings; it will become like a clear forest pool. Then all kinds of wonderful and rare animals will come to drink at the pool. You’ll see clearly the nature of things in the world, see many wonderful and strange things come and go. But you will be still. This is the happiness of the Buddha.”


About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

5 Responses to “Sitting for hours in meditation is not necessary”

  1. I am saying about the stage of advance meditation. In our everyday life, it is very good to have only few minutes of sittng meditation. To be able to have a sitting meditation in about an hour, we need to have be in mindfulness for walking meditaion at the same period of time, an hour for walking and an hour for sitting meditation. There is the intensive meditation in Myanmar about Rising and Falling meditation.
    @ Steve, I am still dont know much about sitting meditation in this way when we have our sitting meditaion for an hour and at that time if we fall asleep, we are still in mindful or not. Some say that it is but some say that there is no more mindful if you fall asleep. I heard form one monk, he said that it is Pasathi (I am not so sure about real Dhamma Spelling).
    If you have some comment or any of your own experience, please share to me.
    Best Wishes,

  2. Dovetailing with the ideas of this post, one of the best pieces of advice I’ve received was to “sit for 10 minutes, but do it daily.” I used to practice sitting for up to an hour. When I decreased the time I spent sitting I responded with a little more urgency. Instead of an abundance of time (and boredom, I’ll admit) I suddenly had a scarcity. This change brought out a little more honesty in my sitting practice. Nowadays I take the 10 minute mindset with me when I sit for longer periods. Anyways, thanks as always. Muchos metta.

  3. just wondering if you know what the purple decidious trees are in the picture with the swans

  4. very nice. i really like ‘voices of insight;’ i read it about a year ago.

  5. Hi Steve, Thank you for your post. I do agree with you but from my own experience, I think that Sitting Meditation is necessary because this can help you to have a stronger mind to be mindful.
    My experience might be far behind you, it is only experience that I happen to me.
    If you can sit within hour with mindfulness, there is nothing wrong with that but make sure that during the meditation you won’t go to the wrong way. Mindfulness and Sahadhi must be equally.
    This is not an argument but I just share my point of view.

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