you do a long period of meditation without intensity, you're
habituating yourself to dullness. So frequent short periods
of cultivation are best.
Meditation means to familiarize with, get used to, make a habit.
You are seeking to regularize the practice so that it has a chance
to affect everyday behavior, and to accomplish this, short periods
of meditation are much better than long ones. The reason is that an
intensity of purpose can be retained throughout a short session. When
you do a long period of meditation without intensity, you're habituating
yourself to dullness. So frequent short periods of cultivation are
The only way compassion can become genuine and spontaneous is through
training—through getting used to it. Part of developing familiarity
is learning to realize as consciously as possible how the attitude
we are cultivating seems to disagree with the present drift of our
minds. If we merely placed a superficial overlay of thought on top
of our actual feelings, we would not transform them but would repress
them. Repression doesn't work. What we avoid comes out in some other
way. We have to face what we dislike. Often, however, we practice our
dislikes so strongly that we cannot set them aside even for a moment.
Reflect on this: do you practice your dislikes so
strongly that you cannot set them aside even for a moment?
Here's an example: many of us have a strained
relationship with our parents, but there was a time when
Mommy and Daddy were the greatest things in the whole
universe. What keeps us from remembering them like that
even for a few moments? The continual destructive thoughts
that we habitually direct toward them.
If this example doesn't work for you, find one that
So it's important to keep in mind that developing
compassion takes a tremendous amount of training of the mind with incremental
Although in meditation there are often sudden leaps to truly grand
feelings, they are temporary. What is important over the long run is
a steady progression.
Occasionally you might get stuck in a stupor and wonder, "What am
I doing here? What is it I was doing?" It might take time for you to
remember, "Oh, I was supposed to be cultivating compassion." Whenever
you find that your mind has wandered, bring it gently back to the topic.