Often, when I meditate, I do it for “a while.” I sit until I am uncomfortable. And then I stop.
Can I tell you something? I am not really accomplishing much.
Very close to every intense spiritual experience I have ever had, while engaged in spiritual exercises, happened after I wanted to be done for the day. The unfortunate truth is this: when I am uncomfortable is when growth happens.
When I decide to just pray for a while, or engage this contemplative activity for a bit, as soon as things begin to stir deeply within me, I find a reason to be done. This is good work. It is powerful work. It is not easy. There are lots of parts of me that want to run away from it.
Timers are incredibly helpful. Some, like the insight meditation timer integrate features like white noise, music, and data about how consistently we have been practicing. So my suggestion is that you decide how long would be comfortable. And then, add a little bit. Try to get yourself –just a little bit–into the uncomfortable range.