Through the years, the question on how long you should meditate each day has been raised numerous times, by numerous people for numerous reasons.
There are those who wish to meditate for a long time but can’t find the time due to their busy schedule and there are those who have a lot of free time and have been trying to experiment with a number of time periods but have not really been able to establish the right time, just to name a few.
Beginners of the practice also desire to know how much time they should set aside for it so that they get to have a smooth flow throughout the sessions and be able to gain valuable benefits out of it.
And while people seek to know how much is enough for them, there is the worry of investing their time into meditation and failing to see progress or getting to achieve their goals they have set for themselves at the end of it all.
As human beings, we all have different body and brain chemistry and we react different to various things, including meditation. This means that there are people who are going to get good results by spending a long time and those who will also benefit from a short time meditation session.
A time period of about 30 to 40 minutes a day has worked for some and failed for others, just like a period of 5 to 10 minutes has.
So it is always essential that you find a time frame that works well for you based on what your mind and body can handle not to mention your daily schedule.
No One Size Fits All Approach in Meditation
When it comes to meditation, everyone is looking to get their own set of results which could be different from others.
Some people are looking to bring down stress and depression, others are fighting anxiety, others want to become more mindful while others look to generate more kindness and compassion within themselves.
The list on the benefits we are looking for in meditation is endless, just as there are various styles of meditation.
At the same time, our lives are also very different in terms of the activities we get involved in on a daily basis. Some have office jobs and businesses to run and have to wake up very early in the morning and come back home late at night.
There are those who are fortunate to have stay at home jobs that may not necessarily need them to wake up early. But they still have a lot on their plate from when they wake up to when they sleep.
In general, everyone is busy in their own different ways so the way we plan our day and spare time for meditation is definitely going to be different.
A good number of people can spare a few minutes in the morning, another pocket of people may be free around 10am, while others get their alone time during lunch hours, early evenings, when they leave work or even late night hours when almost everyone is asleep.
The time we are also able to spare to meditate differs and will mostly range from 5 minutes to an hour or more.
On the same breath, our cultures and personalities vary from one person to another. And this goes on to show how we should expect different results out of the practice based on all the differences.
There will be people who will be able to see results in a few days or weeks, or months or even years of being consistent with meditation.
What Really Matters in Meditation – The 2 Key Factors!
With all the differences, research and studies on meditation have revealed the 2 most important factors that we need to keep into consideration as far as meditation is concerned.
They are value of the session and the frequency of meditating.
While many people put most their concern on the duration of their meditation sessions, studies have shown that minding about the value you get out of every session you immerse yourself into as well as how often you meditate counts for more than the length of your sessions.
Andy Puddicombe, a meditation and mindfulness expert from Headspace says that meditating every day of the week for about 10 minutes per session may be more beneficial than doing it for only one day of the week for 70 minutes (1).
There is this notion that has been taken up by many people about meditation that stems from watching too many Buddhist monks movies or working with many of their other resources.
They think that meditating for hours in nature based environment like next to waterfalls or on top of the mountains is the best way to go about it.
Sure, the feeling of doing that could be pretty surreal going by the environment but there is more to it than meets the eye.
Many of the Buddhists monks are able to sit for long hours and still get the full value out of their sessions. This comes from years and years of training to still for long hours and having the deep connection with the practice from when they begin to the end.
They began with a few minutes a day and in good time they increased the length when they felt it was becoming too easy for them. A few years down the line, they had built the mental and physical stamina to meditate for hours.
The truth is, the concept of doing meditation for a manageable amount of time and doing it often is applied by all people and institutions that value the tradition of meditation, including the Buddhist meditation.
This practice not only helps us train ourselves over time to become more accustomed to long periods of meditation that we always benefit from, but also helps us make meditation part our lives and the benefits of it become more natural unlike those who meditate for hours once in a while and forget about it once their sessions are over.
Finding Your Meditation Zone
That being said, it is important that you find your own length of meditation in terms of time that you know will help you gain value throughout the session and make you look forward to the next session, naturally.
In the grand scheme of things, the main aim of meditation is to transform your life into a happier more peaceful experience.
It makes you do everything better.
And you get this by giving your all into the sessions in a way that you won’t sleep or feel sleepy or become bored and wish for the session to end sooner so that you can go do other things you know are waiting for you.
You want to find a sweet spot that makes the sessions interesting in a way that you get out of them feeling positively different.
This is why you need to find your own time that works well for you and doesn’t affect other areas of your life.
If you are a beginner, you should start with 5 minutes to 10 minutes, no matter the time of the day you are free. This will help you assess yourself.
If it feels like it is too much, you can drop that to 1 or 2 minutes.
Remember, the key things are quality and frequency.
After a while, when you feel too comfortable, you can step things up to the next level. If you can keep up with the next level, go ahead and work with that.
If you can’t go back to the previous time frame and get used to it completely.
The idea is not to stress yourself too much and weigh yourself out but then not to be too comfortable that you fail to make progress.
Your target should be getting the most value out of your sessions, no matter how long they are, and this take time and patience to make it work.
Think about a seed that a farmer sows into a field and hopes it becomes a plant that has healthy fruits. The seed has to take time to break the ground, when it is strong enough, so that it can send out shoots and roots.
After that, more time is needed before the leaves, the flowers and the fruits can come out.
The same case applies to meditation.
If you have been meditating on a regular basis for some time, you should feel free to try out various time frames around what you have been working with.
If your time is 20 to 30 minutes and you feel 30 minutes is a bit too challenging for you, yet 20 minutes is too comfortable for you, then your right spot is 25 minutes.
It is neither too easy nor too challenging.
However, if you want to go against the grain and shoot for long hours from the get go, you want to get guidance and help from qualified meditation teachers. This isn’t an easy thing and could really make your life difficult if you don’t know how to go about it wisely. You can also get into a meditation retreat with experts in the area to help you through.