I sometimes wonder how many folks reading this have a regular meditation practice. Seems quite high.
My own practice has really morphed over the years. I had a pretty serious zazen practice in my late teens, 20s, and 30s -- grinding out the time on the cushion, since I somehow (mis)understood that time on cushion actually meant "progress" in meditation. The major problem was that virtually all of that time was spent just thinking, even if it was cross-legged and purposeful and quite effortful.
I've since changed it up quite a bit. I now believe that, at least for me, very short meditations throughout the day are far more beneficial than a single longer session, especially if the goal (to the extent that there is one) is to cease being distracted and to simply open oneself to whatever arises. I do sit for 10 minutes upon waking in the morning (with a timer), and I love starting the day this way, but I've to come to appreciate the much shorter ones that I take throughout the day. Some can be measured in seconds, not minutes.
I find that an excellent time to pause -- even if for a single second -- is upon starting some new thing. This might be opening a car door, turning a key at home or at the office, just before picking up the phone or checking email/texts, opening the fridge, putting toothpaste on the brush. There is this liminal period between things, and there are literally hundreds of opportunities throughout the day to notice them. Doing one simple breath at these times can punctuate these experiences and bring you fully into this moment, the only one we will ever have.
James Low, the fantastic Scottish meditation teacher in the Dzogchen (Tibetan Buddhist) tradition, has said, "The most important meditation is the one you do when you're not meditating."
The goal, really, is to blur the distinction between formal meditation and the other 99+% of the day.
My friend Michael Hofmann, the brilliant sumi painter (who did our jizo matcha party paintings several years back), once told his teacher that he thought three breaths was the perfect number to wake up to the present.
"Why three?" the teacher asked. "You only need one."
Of course, longer meditations can still be beneficial (and quite wonderful) -- do them if you can! But mini ones throughout the day are far more effective at blurring the line between formal practice and the rest of your day and evening.