How Long to Meditate
How Often to Meditate
"How long to meditate?" and "How often to meditate?" are two of the most common asked questions about meditation.
Perhaps you’ve heard stories of Eastern mystics who meditate ceaselessly for weeks on end. Perhaps you have a friend who meditates for an hour every day. Or maybe you came across some sort of “instant meditation” program than promised you results at the touch of a button.
So what’s the truth? Will it take minutes, hours or days for you to experience the benefits of meditation? Sometimes it not so easy to find time to meditate, so will you be able to fit meditation into your schedule? When will you be ready for a longer meditation?
Let’s get right into the answers!
How long to meditate, and how often to meditate for beginners
Before I tell you how long to meditate for, I’m going to make an assumption. I’m going to assume that you are relatively new to meditation and that you would like to make swift progress in your ability to quiet your mind, and you’d like to experience enduring positive changes in your health, emotions and outlook on life.
If you fit into this category, then two sessions of 20 minutes per day is my first recommendation. Most of the time when I make this recommendation on how long to meditate, these two questions arise:
1. Will I still make progress if I meditate just once per day for 20 minutes?
2. Can I meditate once per day, but do it for 40 minutes...is that the same as two 20 minute sessions?
In answer to question 1. Yes, you can meditate once per day. I recommend twice per day because this is best if you would like to make swift progress and experience positive results as quickly as possible. You will still make good progress with one session of 20 minutes per day, so long as you are regular with your practice.
Meditating twice each day - morning and night, will really help to transform your experience of life in positive and permanent ways. You’ll start each morning with a more peaceful outlook, and you’ll wind down in the evening with a meditation that purges your body and mind of any stress that you may have collected during the day. Your evening meditation will help you to sleep more deeply and you’ll wake the next morning feeling rested, at which time you are ready to begin your morning meditation again. This ongoing cycle of meditation will constantly cleanse your mind and body of stress and negativity, and it will keep you feeling far more rested, peaceful and healthy than you’ve ever known.
In answer to question 2. You are free to try this if you wish, but 40 minutes is usually too much for beginners. As a beginner, you will probably find that after 20 minutes your meditation will not become much deeper, so there’s not too much point in pushing on. You may also find that you feel so relaxed after the first 20 minutes that you are ready to drift off to sleep. If this happens, then the second half of your meditation will probably be more of a drowsy daydream than a true meditation.
Your ability to meditate will develop gradually over time, and the duration of your meditation will increase concurrently. It’s much the same as developing physical fitness. If you go to the gym on a regular basis, you’ll make great progress, but if you go infrequently or if you do too much in one workout, then your progress will be slow or you’ll wear yourself out.
There are some things you can do to accelerate your progress and to deepen your meditation, like listening to specially designed meditation music, but even then, great results come with regular practice. There are no shortcuts in life!
Try these free meditation timers. They are a great tool for helping you to keep track of the duration of your meditation without keeping one eye on your clock, and they will help you to stick with your meditation to the end.
Moving forward into deeper states of meditation
Meditation is an ongoing process of self discovery in which you become more and more familiar with mental silence, and how to maintain your awareness of that silence without interruption. Small gaps in between your thoughts gradually bloom into longer periods of quiet mindedness, and then those periods of quietness start to lengthen and deepen until one day, you find that you are able to sink into prolonged states of profound, blissful stillness.
How to know when you’re ready for a longer meditation
If you’ve been practicing meditation for 20 minutes, twice each day for a period of 2 – 3 months, then you will probably be ready to increase the length of your meditation.
I should mention that it is not mandatory for you to meditate any longer than 20 minutes. For many people, two sessions of 20 minutes per day is all they ever do, because that’s all they ever need to feel peaceful and happy in life. But if you are really enjoying your meditation then I most certainly understand if you feel compelled to deepen it further still. This journey into stillness and serenity can be extremely exciting and rewarding.
With a few months of experience under your belt, you’ll know what a deep meditation feels like, and what a shallow, distracted meditation feels like. With this in mind, try extending the length of your meditation. Do you go deeper in this extra time? If so, then your mind is ready to meditate for a longer period. Gradually extend your meditation in 5 minute increments (spending at least a week or two at each increment before moving forward) until you feel that the extra length of your meditation no longer contributes any further depth. For some peeople, 30 minutes is long enough. Others may stretch out to 45 or 60 minutes.
Just remember that meditation should be a rewarding and fruitful experience for you, and it should be of a length that is practical for you to manage in the overall context of your life. How long you meditate is a choice, not a rule. With that in mind, it’s time we talked about...
Breaking all the rules!
Feeling stressed? Do you have just 5 minutes to spare? Meditate.
Got some free time this weekend. Feel like experimenting with some great new meditation music or trying an hour long meditation? Go for it.
A regular meditation practice is important if you'd really like to develop your ability to meditate, but meditation is also a fun exercise that you can use at any time, in any place, in any way you see fit.
Long, deep meditation
If your aim is to develop extraordinary powers of concentration or if you have spiritual aspirations that encourage you to deeply explore your silent inner nature, then longer sessions of meditation may be the right way to go.
But if you are someone who just wants to live life to the fullest, to be free from stress and to be healthy and vital, then you only need meditate as often and as much as is practical and fruitful for you. Regardless of how long you choose to meditate, you’ll find that regularity is the key to success. If you meditate every day for just 20 minutes, your overall sense of wellbeing and peace of mind will be far greater than if you were to meditate for an hour or two hour once per week.
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Find out how meditation music can help you to meditate
Try these free meditation timers - a great way to keep track of your meditation
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