Firstly I bet you it is. May not in the way the amount or with the speed you want, but it will almost certainly be having a positive effect. So don’t worry.*
How long do you meditate a day? A week? How long each day are you NOT on your cushion? As Lama Zopa Rinpoche once said about our days, “30 minutes meditation and 23 and a half hours ego”. And unless you give up your job or go on a retreat this ratio is unlikely to alter much let’s be honest. So there are two options; 1) improve the quality of your meditation, which I am not skilled enough to write much on apart for the basics, which I already clumsily covered here or 2) Make your 23 and half hours become a support for your daily meditation.
Firstly, to be able to practice well it is necessary to have enough of life’s necessities not to have to worry about getting or having them. But also it is important not to have too much, or rather not to be too attached and involved with it all. To help concentration in meditation it is important to be content with life and possessions and not to have too much attachment to them. This will both lessen distraction in meditation and allow more time for it to happen.
Secondly, a busy life will lead to a busy mind and a lot of conceptual thought arising. Personally, my job and family life means my days are packed and in the evenings I am worn out. Therefore I have found that a routine of morning practice before I leave for work can help lessen all that mind traffic. Also I like to have had breakfast before I settle down so that i am not worrying about my stomach!
Buddhist teaching also mentions leading an ethical life aids meditation. this of course is harder to change quickly. But to reflect on the motivation behind actions and words during the day greatly helps meditation by lessening strong emotions. This is best left for another day, but Lama Zopa Rinpoche wrote wonderfully about this here if you want to read more about that.
Finally, I was lucky enough to hear Venerable Robina Courtin talk earlier this year. (She has an excellent website full of good stuff and links here ) I got the chance to ask her a question I said, “I had been meditating for years and felt I was getting nowhere.” She replied:
- If we notice bad things we are doing or saying or thinking, this is positive and is progress
- We all have deep seated attachment so if our mind is calmer or concentrating better or more compassionate or wiser we then think, “Why aren’t I doing even better?” we are never satisfied
- So don’t worry, we are doing okay 🙂
*But beware: Whereas many religious and spiritual traditions including Buddhism emphasise the importance of concentration, in Buddhism concentration is only a tool, not the end itself. Concentration on its own, without compassion and wisdom is just another reason to be reborn in Samsara.
The majority of the ideas for this were gained from Geshe Tashi Tsering’s excellent book “Emptiness” and especially chapter 2