Meditating every single day seems really daunting if you imagine it as 30 (or so) minutes of inflexible time. If that seems unmanageable in a given day, there can be an impulse to just throw up one’s hands and not sit at all.
But it’s easy to reframe the practice to get around that impulse. As Rav James said at the end of the retreat I just got back from, “you can always find five minutes.” I don’t think I’ve ever had a day so busy that I couldn’t squeeze any part of it by five minutes. For me, that′s the minimum amount of time it takes for sitting practice to feel like meditating and not merely relaxing, but it’s enough time to feel like I’ve “done it” today.
As someone who has tried to do something as epically long as Jewish daily prayer every day, I’m grateful for the flexibility of meditation practice. I also know from all that experience with ritual that the sense of having “done it” today — or not — is a discrete part of inculcating a spiritual practice, and it works whether I meditate for five minutes or 60 — as long as I kept stoking the fire of my practice today.
I still wonder whether this implicates the quality of my practice, though. Is “doing it” for five minutes as beneficial as “doing it” for 30? I think the only possible answer to that question is, “it doesn’t matter.” It matters whether one practices today or not, but not because of how many cushion-minutes one racks up. It’s not even that one more sit matters — it’s keeping on sitting that matters.