I was reading Uchiyama's "Opening the Hand of Thought" and in it he talks about sesshin at Antaiji. They sit zazen 14 hours a day. "Our legs hurt and we become filled with boredom, and there is nothing else to do but live out the reality of life, moment by moment...to get through the sesshin, you must transcend time...those who continue to sit sesshin no longer recall time...when you hear three gongs, you begin zazen. Two gongs means kinhin...No one thinks about whether it is a long time or a short time."
So I thought I would try that approach during my evening zazen session today. Although I was only sitting for one (30 minute) period, I went in with the attitude that I would live out each moment, and (critically, I think), let any thoughts about the passage of time pass right through me; time would not exist - I would sit until I heard the gongs (timer expire).
It was pretty amazing. I can't say it felt like it was no time before the timer expired, it was more like I had NO IDEA how long I had sat there when the timer went off. I really think the key for me was "there is no time. There is just sitting. When the timer expires, I will get up." Fleeting thoughts about the passage of time entered my mind, but I let them go immediately.
Will I be able to sit without noticing the passage of time every time I sit? I doubt it, but it was a unique experience to not be wondering, somewhere in the back of my mind, "how long have I sat here? How long do I have left?"
I wish I had read this book before I did sesshin in July :lol:
EDIT: One might infer from the title of this thread that I was condescending to new members/practitioners. Not at all - I meant this was a tip from a newbie, probably only worthwhile to other newbies. Sorry for any misunderstanding.