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Sunday, July 14, 2013

How long was that?

Often after I lead a meditation session, students will ask me how long we sat. It's nearly always 24 minutes, which one of my teachers says is the amount of time it takes for the mind to settle down (and who am I to question her?). But their experience of it is different each time. Sometimes 24 minutes seems like hours; other times they say it feels like five.

Time flies when you're having fun.

A new study finds that meditation alters time perception.

Research has increasingly focused on the benefits of meditation in everyday life and performance. Mindfulness in particular improves attention, working memory capacity, and reading comprehension. Given its emphasis on moment-to-moment awareness, we hypothesised that mindfulness meditation would alter time perception.
In the experiment, participants carried out a task to determine their standards of "short" and "long." They then listened to an audiobook or meditation focused on breath in the body. Then they did the task again.

The control group showed no change after the listening task. However, meditation led to a relative overestimation of durations. Within an internal clock framework, a change in attentional resources can produce longer perceived durations. This meditative effect has wider implications for the use of mindfulness as an everyday practice and a basis for clinical treatment.
My own experience of meditation and time is that when I'm present in the moment, the passage of time seems irrelevant. This moment lasts for the fullness of this moment, then another.moment takes it place.