Meditation has been practiced for thousands of years, but researchers have just recently been able to prove the effectiveness of meditation practice. This has made many people want to try it for themselves, but there are a lot of question marks when first starting out. Some of the biggest being, “How long should I meditate for?” and “How often should I meditate?”
It’s easy to be intimidated when we feel like we need to practice meditation for a certain amount of time, but it doesn’t have to be this way. Meditation practice is similar to most things in the way that the more you do it, the more you will benefit from it. But the truth is, even a few moments of mindful breathing can be an extremely beneficial meditation practice.
Is there a magic number for how long we should meditate for, or how often? The short answer is no. The longer answer is there are many, and it depends on many different factors like what it is you want to gain from the practice. Let’s look at some helpful information and suggestions we’ve gathered from our own practice and from the research and experience of others on how long we should meditate for and how often we should do it.
It’s important to recognize that meditation is an individual journey, and that there are no universal rules. There’s no right or wrong way to practice. It all depends on you. What we’ve found is that consistency is more important than time practiced. Knowing this, let’s ask ourselves an important question: How much time would we be able to practice every single day. It won’t do any good to commit to a meditation practice of an hour a day when there will be days you just won’t be able to do it. This will just leave you feeling discouraged and demoralized. The real benefits of meditation come when we can make it a part of our life, like brushing our teeth or drinking our morning coffee.
The length of your practice is not as important as the consistency of your practice.
When bringing any habit into your life, including meditation practice, it’s helpful to start small. Sure you may have big aspirations, that’s great! Keep them! But start where you are. If you feel 100% confident that you can sit and practice for 10 minutes a day, start there. If it’s 5 minutes, great! All that matters is your start.
“Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time” - Lyndon B Johnson
You may think, “5 minutes of meditation sounds doable, but I doubt that will do anything.” Well, many studies are beginning to show that just five minutes of meditation a day is enough to help calm the mind, improve mood and brain function, and reduce stress.
There are many benefits of starting small. It doesn’t take much to set 5 or 10 minutes aside and practice meditation, so it’s easy to make it a part of your daily life. As you do, not only will you begin to feel the benefits of consistent practice, but your confidence in yourself will also go up because you’re doing what you told yourself you’re going to do. As time progresses, meditation will become a part of your life, and you can begin to expand on your practice as you wish to.
So when starting a meditation practice, make a commitment to yourself and keep it. This could look like setting out 10 minutes every morning when you first wake up, or giving yourself 5 minutes of meditation before bed. Again there are no rules :) If you're feeling anxious, tired or unfocused, you could also do a sporadic meditation session. So in terms of how many times a day your should do it, it should definitely be at least once.
“Dream big. Start small. But most of all, start” - Simon Sinek
The most important thing when it comes to starting meditation, is that we start. There are many tools available for us to use and you can always develop your practice as you go. One thing is for sure, after making meditation a part of your life, you’ll sure be glad you did.
“Meditation is not what you do in the morning, that’s practice. Meditation is the daily result of that practice” - Harbhajan Singh Yogi