Meditating for Ten Hours

Ajahn Achalo

Meditating for Ten Hours

Sitting ten hours of meditation for one day is not so difficult. Doing it for ten days, then another ten, and yet another ten back-to-back is more of a challenge.

It requires determination, stamina, patience, surrender, and a deep commitment to put forth energy even when you’re exhausted. At some point illness will be a part of the equation, too, and we must practice with and through it.

What does one actually do while meditating for ten hours, you might ask?

I mostly practise breath meditation, which Lord Buddha described as the ‘crown jewel’ of all meditations. I have found however that I also need to practise metta, loving-kindness meditation, for about a third of the time to keep my mind happy and content.

When my mind becomes peaceful with the awareness of the breath, I simply enjoy the peace. At times I can be aware of the extraordinary amount of noise and activity around me yet be completely unaffected. I’m aware yet detached and serene.

And when the metta practice really takes off, the heart can feel very expansive, and I make many beautiful wishes for others beings— family, friends, teachers, all humans, all devas, all beings in the universe, all beings in all universes!

Metta practice produces great merits that will be a support in the future as well; recollecting this can generate energy to keep meditating.

When my mind isn’t so peaceful or when there’s a lot of pain in the body, I try to investigate and sharpen the mindfulness. When there is not stable concentration, I can sometimes achieve a different kind of peacefulness by learning to detach from feelings, thoughts, and sensory impingements.

When mindful investigation is sustained with integrity, for hours at a time, it is possible to shift from a state of irritation and a sense of feeling oppressed to coolness, detachment, and then to experience a quality of emptiness (of self ). In giving interest to and placing the attention on awareness, or ‘that which knows’, consistently, the awareness itself becomes more pronounced.

One can rest with this awareness more and more until it becomes the actual object of meditation. Layers of habitual identification fall away from the mind. Once established, the peace that comes from letting go of liking and not liking can be very resilient.

When we know how to practise, there is always the potential for peace. Sometimes with the emphasis upon mindfulness, sometimes with the emphasis upon wisdom, and sometimes due to a quality of collectedness.

But regardless of the approach, the resulting peace is quite similar.

This reflection by Ajahn Achalo is from the book, 3,000 Hours of Meditation, Chapter Four: “Our Usual Days,” (pdf) pp. 46-47.