How Long Should I Meditate?
Many experts recommend 30 minutes of meditation practice a day if it’s possible, but even 2 minutes of mindful breathing can be beneficial if it’s all you can find time for. Here how to find the perfect meditation time for you ….
While the thought of a regular meditation practice appeals to a lot of people, it’s only natural to want to know the finer details before you get stuck in. ‘How long should I meditate?’ is a common question and, like most of the questions surrounding this ancient practice, there is no clear cut answer.
The first thing to know about meditation is that it is accessible to almost everyone, and many of us may already meditate without realising. Even enjoying a morning coffee while watching the world go by can be seen as a form of meditation, yet the misconception is that meditation requires hours of your time every day – otherwise there isn’t any point.
Of course, the average person doesn’t have hours of spare time to meditate every day, or even just one hour of spare time! Yet it’s often said that those who don’t have time to meditate are the ones who need it the most, and there is certainly some truth in this.
Meditations for modern-day life are often short and simple, with the aim of instilling some calm into an otherwise hectic day.
Meditation sessions can be as long as an hour, or as short as just one or two minutes! We’re firm believers in quality over quantity, and forcing yourself through an hour of meditation before you tackle your endless to-do list is only going to be counterproductive.
A few minutes of focused breathing in between tasks however, will bring about huge benefits for most people.
How Often Should I Meditate?
When you’re starting out, consistency is key. Keep in mind that you’re trying to build a habit as well as a skill. Even a few minutes a day practised consistently will be hugely beneficial.
If you have time, a daily meditation practice is invaluable. For those just starting out with the practice, putting aside a small amount of time every day to meditate can help you form a habit.
For beginner meditators, little and often is better than long and infrequent sessions. The biggest hurdle many people find is staying focused for the set amount of time. Short but frequent sessions will help you build up strength and focus, as even 3 minutes can feel like a very long time for those new to meditation!
Studies show that the mental and physical health benefits of meditation can be seen from even just a few minutes of practise each day.
For new meditators, we recommend following a set practice designed for beginners. You should start to feel the benefits after just a few short sessions.
What Should I Think About While Meditating?
When we meditate, we’re practising how to manage our thoughts. If we had no thoughts, we’d have nothing to practice with.
There’s a common misconception that you should try to think of nothing at all. Not only is ‘thinking of nothing’ discouraging for those who struggle to switch off, it’s also borderline impossible in practice.
Often, your thoughts will head directly to what you’re trying to avoid thinking about!
Setting the right intention for your meditation will give you a good focal point, and this is why we recommend guided practices for beginners. The meditation teacher will encourage you to focus on a specific image, body part or mantra. As opposed to trying to ‘empty your mind’, you’ll be given something to focus on, and you can return to it whenever your mind starts to wander.
The focus of meditation can vary from practice to practice. Buddhist meditation is about enhancing Buddhist values. You’ll learn to practice non attachment, concentration and self love. Buddhist meditation practices will help you to develop qualities that can be brought into your everyday life, and drawn on when times get hard.
Hindu meditations often use a mantra as the focus. These aim to focus the mind and aid concentration, while the sound and feel of a mantra itself can be very peaceful. Hindu mantras are meaningless sounds, given by the teacher at the start of the session.
Unguided meditation practices may have a little less structure. If you have a few minutes spare, focusing on your senses can be extremely calming. Try to tune in to every little sound around you and immerse yourself fully in the present moment.
How Long Does It Take For Meditation To Work?
The answer to this depends on what is meant by ‘work’, and as you continue with your practice, you may find your outlook changes.
Many meditators experience some benefits immediately following the session, while others need a little longer.
After each meditation, you may feel calmer and, depending on the type of meditation, more aware of your mind and body. It may take a few weeks until you notice significant changes, but do not get discouraged.
Try to enjoy your time spent meditating for what it is – undisturbed and quiet time to yourself.
Just as you wouldn’t expect to see immediate changes to your body following a few days training in the gym, it can take a long time to train your mind. Improved concentration, focus and clarity are just a few of the mental benefits that come from a regular practice, but they may not come to light straight away.
Gradually, you may start to notice your mind feels clearer, or you are able to look at a situation in a different way. Physical health benefits can also slowly come to light. Funnily enough, you’ll know when meditation starts to ‘work’ because you’ll stop worrying about whether it’s working!
Meditation is a lifelong practice and, with time, you can learn to enjoy the time you spend meditating, without chasing the benefits.
How Many Hours Do Monks Meditate?
One of the reasons many people believe that meditation is only worth doing if it’s practiced for hours every day is because monks spend a lot of time meditating.
However, it is important to note that for monks, the practice is their life. Meditating for hours each day simply isn’t practical for most people, and while monks may meditate for up to 5 hours a day, some of us are lucky to get 5 minutes!
The benefits of meditation can be seen from even just a few minutes of practice. MindEasy has a range of beginner-friendly courses to help you begin your journey to spiritual development, mental optimisation and greater wellbeing.