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Clock watching

nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

I have a problem. When I meditate, I find myself frequently wanting to check the clock. This happens even when I'm quite enjoying my session. As near as I can tell, this is a form of restlessness, one of the five hindrances. Ajahn Brahm suggests developing contentment, but I couldn't find specific directions.

Am I right about this being a form of restlessness? Is developing contentment the correct antidote? What practices can one perform to develop contentment?

Comments

  • TravellerTraveller East Midlands UK Veteran
    edited May 2015

    I do this, I've found setting an interval bell every five minutes on the insight timer app helps. Sorry I couldn't be more help, just wanted to let you know your not the only one.

    Buddhadragonmmo
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I actually have the low-tone sound of the Tibetan Bowl to begin my meditation, then I have a higher tone at minute intervals.My meditation ends with a double ring of the low-tone Tibetan Bowl again.
    I'm always surprised by it..... Finished already...?
    I think it's time to lengthen my meditation time......

    EarthninjaBuddhadragon
  • howhow Veteran
    edited May 2015

    @nakazcid

    Yes it's restlessness as you have diagnosed .

    One solution to clock watching is to just to put more attention on the observing of all the component pieces of that restlessness rather than identifying with and becoming subject to it.
    Some folks actually use the arrival of restlessness in formal meditation as a que that some lack of acceptance of something is really what is happening.

    One can consider restlessness in meditation to be ones identity/ego/selfish self/ squirming under our meditations magnifying glass, which at least gives some evidence of your participation in the meditative challenge, unlike complacency where one does only that which does not confront one's own ignorance.

    Travellerlobsternakazcidmmo
  • genkakugenkaku Northampton, Mass. U.S.A. Veteran

    In group settings, there are three bells to begin a Zen sit and one to end it... or anyway that's been my experience. I do think that sitting periods should be structured ... don't sit longer and don't sit shorter than 'x,' whatever 'x' may be.

    When alone, I used an incense stick as my timer. It usually lasted about 40 minutes and the shifting smell when the incense was burned up was a perfect period on the sentence.

    TravellerEarthninja
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    It's funny how 'time' dictates our lives...(We invent the time piece to serve us and we end up serving the time piece)

    I'm in a fortunate position to have plenty of time for meditation (the earliest I leave for work is 8.30am)...I don't use a timer as such, it would seem that the conscious mind knows when to stop and this normally occurs between 20 & 40 minutes... I think it must be something like a built-in time peace :) ...

    Earthninjammo
  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @nakazcid said:

    Am I right about this being a form of restlessness? Is developing contentment the correct antidote? What practices can one perform to develop contentment?

    You can practice clock watching. Recently using a timer meant having a big countdown app running on my shrine. Could be a watch or clock in front of one. Once the mind is assured it knows how long to go and that no discontent or contentment will change the sitting time it will eventually settle down.

    Developing contentment is adding as @how mentions. Watching a clock, an arising, the breath is just something to contend with ... or accept ...

  • EarthninjaEarthninja Wanderer West Australia Veteran
    Yeah I prefer a sounded alarm. It gives a piece of mind to just sit and not have to worry about time.
  • howhow Veteran

    I find that many meditation groups now seem to commonly ask folks to make sure all their devices are turned off before the sitting starts.

    The other day I finally pin pointed the source of an often vibrating phone in a meditation group as coming from the person presenting at a meditation group sit.

    When I asked her if that was her phone that kept vibrating during the sitting, she kind of sheepishly said that it was the only device she still had for telling the time to signal the starting and ending of the meditation.

    Why am I surprised at how humanities fear of being separated from existence
    has so easily morphed into the fear of not being continually in contact with an operating media device.

  • BuddhadragonBuddhadragon Carpe Diem Samsara Veteran

    @federica said:
    I actually have the low-tone sound of the Tibetan Bowl to begin my meditation, then I have a higher tone at minute intervals.My meditation ends with a double ring of the low-tone Tibetan Bowl again.

    I do something similar to Fede: different Tibetan bowl sounds from Insight Timer app to mark the beginning of the session (with a few seconds delay, to help me get correctly into posture), a different bell tone for the interval pause (just one, in the middle of my session) and three bells to mark the end.

    My impression is I can relax better into the session, knowing the timer is seen to, and I don't get unduly disturbed by the thought of wondering when the session will end.

    I really find the Insight Timer app a fantastic tool to meditate better.

    lobsterKennethmmo
  • misecmisc1misecmisc1 I am a Hindu India Veteran
    edited May 2015

    @nakazcid said:
    I have a problem. When I meditate, I find myself frequently wanting to check the clock.

    at least i heard of a problem, which i think i do not have in my sitting duration - or may be i have but i am not mindful of this problem - may be my ego is boasting that i do not have this problem - kind of a mean person i am.

    anyways @nakazcid don't worry about it, as this problem will go away - what i do is - when i get up in morning by the alarm clock and then when finally i have to sit, i see my mobile for what time is it, i know what time i have to leave the house to get the office bus and how much time i need after getting up from my sitting for getting dressed up and finally leaving the home for office bus, so i substract that time and an additional 5 minutes, and then i set the alarm for ending my sitting duration - so i know when i will get up at alarm clock from my mobile, then i will have sufficient time to leave the house for office. so i am not worried about what time it is while i am sitting, as my mobile's clock will take care of the alarm being sounded, provided the mobile's battery is sufficiently charged to not get the mobile getting switched off during the sit :) . then i sit and when my mobile's alarm rings, i get up. but during my sit, i am constantly facing bodily pains and i have not been able to get my correct sitting posture till now :( .

    i do not know whether the above will help you - but see if setting an alarm to end your meditation helps you to overcome your above problem.

  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    Thanks for the input, everybody. It's tough for me to meditate on a rigid schedule, or use an alarm sometimes. I meditate frequently at work on the weekends - the workload is very light, but at the same time I can't have an alarm going off at my desk. So I have to meditate in between calls, which can be a substantial block of time, or very short. On my off days, it's easier, but it's still tough to do it at the same time everyday. Nonetheless, I still get in about 25 minutes a day. I will try to observe my restlessness, accept it and let it go, instead of being swept away by it.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Moderator

    Our teacher uses an iphone for timing meditation during retreats. I use mine most of the time as well (my smart phone). Our sangha leader though has a fabulous pyramid meditation timer that I much prefer and might look into finding one more like that. My phone is a constant distraction for me. I make it a point to purposely leave my phone behind whenever I can. I am tied to a phone while my kids are at school but beyond that, I leave it whenever possible. Also, I am grateful to live on the very edge of our coverage area, so I don't have to go far before I have no service at all, which is quite a relief :)

  • gracklegrackle Veteran

    A simple solution is to not have any time devices to watch. As you become more proficient in allowing your mind to settle your meditation time will be consistent. I prefer an hour at a time.

  • JeffreyJeffrey Veteran

    I would just cover up or remove from view. Then if you think of the clock just return to the breath.

    Traveller
  • howhow Veteran

    When sitting by myself I use my watch timer that sounds an alarm after x amount of time has passed. When sitting with others, if I am responsible for the sounding of starting and finishing bells, I turn my watch towards my lap so that it's alarm is too muffled for anyone else to hear but me.

    But even without needing to look at anything, occasionally I will doubt that it's working, or wonder if I forgot to start it properly and will look.....to see that it about to go off in 20 seconds, or that I am obviously having a trying time because it's only half way through my sit time or that I did forget to start it properly and I've sat 15 minutes longer than I planned for.

    Sigh...

  • namarupanamarupa Veteran

    @nakazcid said:
    I have a problem. When I meditate, I find myself frequently wanting to check the clock. This happens even when I'm quite enjoying my session. As near as I can tell, this is a form of restlessness, one of the five hindrances. Ajahn Brahm suggests developing contentment, but I couldn't find specific directions.

    Am I right about this being a form of restlessness? Is developing contentment the correct antidote? What practices can one perform to develop contentment?

    I have done this as well. Try to be in a relaxed state before you start or try to find a more suitable time to meditate. Try it without timing at all for a while.

  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran
    @namarupa I've actually tried meditating that way a couple of times. I'd set my screensaver to go off at 10 minutes, and the display to go dark at 1 hour - without any audio cues. I think I made it to 45 minutes a few times that way. However, everyone seems to make a point of rigidly timed sessions, so I stopped trying that out.
  • thug4lyfethug4lyfe Explorer

    I don't look at no clock you hear me?!!!

  • lobsterlobster Veteran

    @thug4lyfe said:
    I don't look at no clock you hear me?!!!

    My preferred method, time independent meditation. Sit until finished.

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