It’s a scenario you’ve surely encountered at least once: you’re sitting and trying to focus, but your thoughts are drifting. You wonder, “How long should I meditate, anyway?” Whether it’s borne of boredom or genuine curiosity, knowing how much meditation per day you should be doing is essential to the practice of meditation (and figuring out how to do it successfully).
Learn more about the benefits of meditation, as well as some tips to help improve your technique, regardless of the type of meditation you do. Let this be your guide in your pursuit of calm and tranquility.
First, Some Useful Facts About Meditation
Figuring out how long you should meditate for is hinged on how well you understand meditation as a concept. In this section, get answers on what meditation is, as well as the effects of meditation on both your physical health and mental health.
What Is Meditation? What We Know About The Science of Meditation
Consider meditation a type of exercise for your mind or consciousness. Often correlated to mindfulness practice, it’s all about being present and aware of your thoughts and feelings in the moment (often in conjunction with breathing exercises). It’s taking a few minutes out of your daily life to observe where you’re at in the here and now psychologically and emotionally, while reserving judgment.1
For more spiritual forms of meditation, like those practiced in some Eastern religions, meditation practices are akin to prayer, used to gain a higher level of consciousness and connect to higher beings, nature, or the universe. This is called spiritual meditation.2
There are many other types of meditation: those that help in honing one of your senses through concentration (focused meditation); practices that involve repetitive words, calming movements, or visualization (mantra meditation, movement meditation, and visualization meditation); or even downloadable daily meditation apps or online meditation options that help you take a few minutes per day to just breathe and calm down.3
Regardless of what form of meditation you commit to trying, the scientific community has found there are numerous benefits to a consistent and regular practice. Read on for research-backed proof that a daily meditation practice does have measurable effects and an overall positive impact on your quality of life.
Potential Health Benefits of Meditation Or Mindfulness Practice
A consistent practice of meditation may positively affect your mind and body. Here are just some of the ways. Regular meditation may support:
Studies show that mindfulness meditation may help to support better sleep quality by helping meditators achieve longer and more beneficial sleeping patterns.4
Studies show that meditation may be good for the heart. Both transcendental meditation and non-transcendental forms may help to support healthy blood pressure levels already within a normal range.5
Perhaps the most popular benefit of the experience of meditation, a solid practice may help lower stress levels. Some studies have found that meditation has a positive impact on easing the physical effects of stress. A meditation practice might also help ease anxiety levels, as well as sharpening focus.6
Better Relationships With Self And Others
Loving-kindness meditation focuses on generating positive feelings of self-acceptance and forgiveness for both yourself and others. This type of mediation has been found to be beneficial in deepening people’s sense of empathy and kindness.7
So, How Often Should You Meditate?
All of these potential positive benefits mention the need for a consistent approach to meditation, ultimately begging the question: How long should you be meditating? As it turns out, it’s more than just the duration of your meditation sessions that matters.
First things first — there is no magic number of minutes of meditation you should be doing as part of your daily practice. You could meditate from 10 minutes to an hour, and feel the same (or no) effect. Most experts point out that the effectiveness of meditation lies not in the specific periods of time, but in doing it on a daily basis.8
Here are some meditation tips to help you achieve that goal.
Aim For Consistency Over Length Of Sessions
You may start meditating by just committing fully for five minutes, or you might be able to reach 20 — but what matters is you do so with intention and consistency. Meditation is a practice in patience and commitment, and you’ll need time to really get it. It’s okay to start with shorter sessions as you feel things out. Again, what’s important is you do it as often as you can.9
Find Your Sweet Spot So You Don’t Feel Pressured
Research says 20-minute meditations daily is a good goal. But there is a wide range of time frames you can explore as you find your so-called “sweet spot.” Some people might feel just as good with a short session or two scattered throughout the day; others might reap the rewards of a full hour or more. Feeling pressured to stay in the zone for specific time periods may undermine the essence of meditation. So, it’s important to note why you’re feeling bored, demotivated, or out of it halfway through, and work from there.10
Do You Need To Meditate For Years Before Experiencing The Benefits?
Not necessarily — again, it depends on your consistency, intention, and goals you have set for yourself. Of course, you’ll need more than a single session to truly feel any potential benefits. But on a physical level, studies show that after just eight weeks of a consistent meditation program, you may begin reaping the potential benefits — in the form of deeper relaxation, a reduction in stress levels, and more.11
Commit To Consistency
Beginner meditators often try to find ways to make meditation enjoyable or tolerable, and there are certainly a lot of strategies and tips to help get you on the right track. But ultimately, there’s not much else you need past finding a comfortable position, setting the right intention, and doing your best to commit to consistency.
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